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The Green Carpet: Hollywood

Portlandia: Because We Can Laugh At Ourselves

IFC’s must-watch hit comedy returns for third season.


portlandia season 3

Every six months, TV writers gather in Los Angeles to preview new shows and interview the casts—one highly-anticipated panel was IFC’s half-hour social satire, Portlandia, starring and created by Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein.

Fred and Carrie met when her band Sleater-Kenny performed on Saturday Night Live—and creative sparks flew. What started as short videos about Fred and Carrie’s comedy take on Portland morphed into Portlandia, under the brilliant direction of their third partner, Jonathan Krisel.

So, why Portland? Besides being Carrie’s hometown, the city is a breeding ground for PC satire. “It’s the most sane city,” insists Krisel. “Everyone in the city has kind of collectively decided, ‘We’re going to have a great life. If we work or don’t work, we’re going to support our local restaurants and grocery stores and drink our local coffee.’ When you’re there, it’s like utopia.”

Carrie begs to differ. “I think [Portland] is totally insane. I think to live in a way that’s, like, meaningful and good, takes a lot of thinking and over thinking. It’s a beautiful center you can focus on, but on the periphery is a lot of craziness, for sure, which is what makes the city charming.”

That craziness translates to eccentric, bold, and funny sketch characters, like Portland’s openly reggae mayor, overly eco-conscious couple Peter and Nance, and Toni and Candice, uber-feminist proprietors of “Women and Women First” bookstore. “In this season, Peter and Nance open up a B&B,” says Carrie. “Peter and Nance are a very unctuous and cloying couple. They formed such an imperfect boundary with one another, and it’s so easy to create tension. It’s fun to play with this intense dynamic that can so easily be thwarted.”

Just about every city in America can point to a Portlandia-like bohemian/hippie contingent, you know, the folks who work a bit too hard at being spiritual, conscious, and politically correct. This allows the show to hilariously poke fun at these activists and hipsters—the crafty DIYers who sew, paint, and stencil birds on everything in a “Put a Bird on It” campaign; insanely overprotective dog parents at a dog park; people with obscure allergies bringing awareness to their ailments at the Allergy Pride Parade; overzealous eco-minded “sanitation” twins starring in a preachy PSA; and the generation we love to hate parodied in “Dream of the Nineties,” a music video lauding Portland as the place young people go to retire.

Portlandia’s not about to retire, with the newest season featuring guest stars like Roseanne Barr, Jeff Goldblum, Chloe Sevigny (playing a transplant from Seattle and Fred and Carrie’s new roommate), Patton Oswald, and Martina Navratilova. New season 3 episodes are on IFC, Fridays at 10 pm ET/PT.

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Tommi Lewis Tilden

Tommi Lewis Tilden

Tommi Lewis Tilden has worked as an editor for several notable media outlets including Disney Publishing, Teen magazine and TV Guide. The Los Angeles-based editor, journalist and book author is also actively involved in environmental efforts including Tree People and Heal the Bay.
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Tommi's eco awareness has long encompassed her work (e.g. while editor at TEEN she researched environmentally friendly printing), as well as her personal life (she's a proud Hybrid owner and her home sports solar panels).

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