Over the holiday, I discovered “Portlandia” on Netflix (It’s available for Instant View). Two things about the show stood out for me:
- It’s wickedly hilarious.
- It could just as easily be set in Bernal Heights, if you don’t mind having a few laughs at our own expense.
But what is “Portlandia?” There’s a nice writeup about the show in the current issue of the New Yorker:
“Portlandia” presents a heightened version of [Portland's] twee urbanity: a company sells artisanal light bulbs, a hotel offers a manual typewriter to every guest, and a big local event is the Allergy Pride Parade. The mayor, played by Kyle MacLachlan, becomes an object of scandal when he’s “outed” as the bass guitarist in a middle-of-the-road reggae band. (The real Portland’s mayor, Sam Adams, who is openly gay, plays MacLachlan’s assistant on the show.) Armisen and Brownstein, wearing anthropologically precise wigs and outfits, portray most of the main characters: bicycle-rights activists, dumpster divers, campaigners against any theoretical attempt to bring the Olympics to Portland, animal lovers so out of touch that they free a pet dog tied up outside a restaurant. (“Who puts their dog on a pole like a stripper?”) Many characters recur, and, because they often seem to know one another, their intersections from sketch to sketch give the show the feel of a grownup “Sesame Street.”