While I think that comedic television is reaching an all time high in terms of quality, I do think that there’s a fair sense of predictability that can be found in most shows. Portlandia does not fall into that category at all. While surreal humor is becoming more and more mainstream recognized, Portlandia takes it to the extreme.
Portlandia stars SNL’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the lead singer and guitarist of Wild Flag. The show is filmed in Portland, Oregon and is focused mainly on sketch comedy. The show generally has one centralized plot that is revisited throughout the show in between frequent cutaways to sketches.
Portlandia also makes frequent use of guest stars. Steve Buscemi, Andy Samberg,Jason Sudekis, Jeff Goldblum, and Selma Blairare are just a few of the celebrities who have stopped by Portland only to be annoyed and weirded out by the strange characters in the show.
The appeal of Portlandia can be summed up in one word. Weird. Portlandia is about as strange a show as you’re going to find. Many of the skits are so bizarre that you’re not even going to want to try and decipher them.
Portlandia is very reminiscent of shows like Mr. Show with Bob and David and The Larry Sanders show which isn’t that surprising considering they all air on premium cable channels. Portlandia’s opening scene which depicts how the dream on the 90s is still alive there could be seen as an acknowledgement of its predecessors in this fairly undeveloped genre.
Portlandia’s new season does not premiere until January, but you can catch it sporadically on IFC. It’s also available on DVD and many of the skits can be found on youtube. If you’re looking for a new comedy that doesn’t take itself seriously and you won’t have to analyze, give it a shot. Just don’t tie your dog to a pole or use a store bathroom without buying anything.