Wednesday, December 28, 2011


by DionysusPsyche

Opening Statement
I grew up in Portland and later moved away. So upon finding out there was a show made to commemorate and incapulate my hometown, I was gung ho. To promote it, Fred Armison and Carrie Brownstein did an SNL skit/song and dance about Portland. This is the place where “the '90's are still alive,” and you can just “stick a bird on something and call it art.” Also, “Where young people go to retire.”

When I learned that Portlandia's first season (guest stars include Steve Buschemi, Aubrey Plaza, and Kyle McLachlin) was on Netflix, I queued it up for some hometown goodness. Like food, except more visual and less nutritional. It is a series of sketches strewn together with the theme being Rip City, although this reminds me of something equally kitchy, my improv class from community college back home.

One: “Farm”
OMG, I know these people. I went to school here and learned about Organic Farming. The idea of knowing “how organic” a food item is and what that entails. To an every average Joe in any other place across the USA, organic is organic, but Portland is weird, and they plan on keeping it that way (even if that tagline started in Austin). Our way of eating is rather cult-like, and there are numerous vegetarians and vegans scattered throughout the urban sprawl. I do feel like the lesbian bookstore owners are misrepresented. Random weird fake sports teams are created here. This is where their womb is. The Hide-and-Seek team is real...I think.

Two: “A Song for Portland”
There are birds on everything in certain areas and a decent portion of pride is dedicated to our local craftsmen (there is a skit involving this that is pretty hilarious). Yeah, the mayor (hey everybody! It's Kyle McLachlin from Dune and Twin Peaks) is right, Portlanders are biased against Seattlites (the real mayor, Sam Adams, plays the mayor's assistant). Hipsters hate on non-hipsters who like/enjoy the same things they do. Non-hipsters don't care as much, but in the cycle, they inevitably become hipsters, which is just a byproduct of living there (which is only accurate a percentage of the time—usually they just move away or change political associations).

Hi, we'd like to sell you something--anything--with a bird on it. Or put a bird on it FOR you.

Three: “Aimee”
One of the details that makes the place I call home tick is the catch phrase “green.” There are many examples of this, recycling, emailing instead of using paper, and the #1 option—bicycling. You may know it as a sport, something Lance Armstrong does, and the observation that occasionally there are marathons or people in the park own these smaller, metal alternatives to vehicles. Portland takes biking to an extreme by making it a way of life. Angry bicyclist yelling at cars and pedestrians? It's one guy, and he's all over the place—the place being any lane and also all around town. He's also accompanied by the guy or gal yelling back at him (but not in a New York City kind of way—the subtle, windows rolled up type).

Oh right, and now for the plot of this episode! Bands from Portland can be seen around town, and a majority of city's inhabitants have more than one job. Aimee Mann is not from Portland, but she very well could be.

It's Portland's wackiest and weirdest in their element doing what they do best or worst. The first episode was awesome, and the third was pretty great as well, but when the town shows its dark side—its most annoying and ridiculous—well, it hurts. I can't really compare it to anything, except potentially Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Parks & Recreation. P&R I like, CYE I don't. Topics relating to Portland I'd rather hear about are as follows: craft breweries, local coffee companies, my family.

It reminds me of everything (mostly around town hot spots and my friends/family) I miss and everything I will always loathe. I may be too close to the material to be truly objective. Watching the show felt the same way when you work at a book/movie store and slobs/monsters love the same things you love. You feel like a cretent and start an inner monologue about whether you are as cool as you thought you were and what the hell you are doing with your life.

I'd also like to make a statement to outsiders considering this a vacation spot in the Pacific Northwest to either visit or drive through.

  1. This is only a specific control group of Portland—our wildest and most eccentric that would guarantee the widest array of laughter and horror from audiences. We're not all like that and certaintly not all the time.
  2. It's rarely this sunny in the actual City of Roses. If you do want to visit us, please do some research on the best times to travel there. Sun and temperature never guaranteed, but mountains, hills, valleys, and the beach are still good places to go all within a short distance of each other.
At its best, it's entertaining. At it's worse, it's the guy on the bike who flips over a car and lands on the cement. I'll be giving it another shot in the future, but for now, I feel like I've had enough.

If you want to see a show with better plots, writers, and coherent non-sketch storylines but still a gorgeous town, consider Grimm and Leverage.

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