Thursday, January 05, 2012

Portlandia

I'm three episodes into watching Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen's parody series about life in Portland, now that it's out on Netflix.  So far, I've got mixed feelings.  One on hand, it's a good send up of several of the city's subcultures, whose members can often be pretty amusing to those of us on the outside.



Especially amusing when those ironically self-aware, self-criticizing individuals get un-ironically passionate or even wholly obsessed with the defining theme of their niche culture, be that vegan-ism, bicycle culture, the arts scene, etc. And while Portlandia largely ignores the vast bulk of middle- and working-class white Americans and East Asian and Latin American immigrants who make up the majority of metropolitan area's population, it occasionally does chronicle their interactions with the hipsters, egotistical artists, and bi-polar foodies who are Portlandia's focus. Generally middle America comes off better or at least slightly saner in these exchanges.



The other-hand downside of the show is that the whiny obnoxiousness of some of the characters is heavy handed at times. So far Portlandia has dished out a number of real gems as far as laugh-inducing sketches, but it's also had several  moments when the show's introspective ubanites have gotten so bitchy or shrill over problems with life in a first world urban utopia that it's required a a fair amount of self-discipline not to fast forward through to the next scene. Also, there a couple of sex sketches (fully clothed) that come off as more creepy than comedic.

While it's been hit or miss, I'm hoping the show finds its stride and improves during its second season. Every city needs some gentle poking at to avoid taking itself too seriously, and Portlandia has nailed its namesake with  several moments of parody and good-humored absurdity worthy of Armisen's alma mater, Saturday Night Live.

What I am un-ironically and passionately attached to after watching the show is Washed Out's "Feel it all Around" track, used in Portlandia's opening credits. It's getting a lot of time on my play lists at the moment.




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