Saturday, January 15, 2011


"Portland: Where Young People go to Retire."

this dead-on view of Oregon's popular city was perhaps the funniest line of the pre-released first episode of a new t.v. series called Portlandia. The premise of this show is to air all the eccentricities of the great city of Portland. It actually doesn't start until next week, but you can watch the first episode on HULU for free for the next few days.

My review: Hopes were high for this series because there is nothing a Portlander loves more than having their city on display. Unfortunately, the uniqueness of the spirit here is veiled by what seems to be thrown together character sketches. After a stilted conversation between the two main characters, the show cleverly entertains with an impromptu song featuring many Portland absurdities. It sets the viewer up to believe this show may be reminiscent of The Flight of the Conchords, but alas, once the song is over, the similarity with that great series ends. Although the chosen topics (organic chicken's life story; adult leagues of children's games; feminist power themed bookshops) were typical of Portland's vibe (albeit filmed in satiric hyperbole), each scene fell a bit flat-- like a joke that continues after the punch line has been given. The directors apparently forgot that less is more... unless of course it came to the acting. The personalities of the two main characters were a little too deadpan to generate the kind of big laughs that Portland's quirks demand. (exception: keep your eye out for the old lady in the library sketch. She steals the show because there is no apparent acting in her ridicule). In order for Portlandia to succeed, this show needs to be made more accessible to those who haven't ever set foot in Portland. Right now it just feels like we're smiling at a joke that only a very few insiders get.


  1. I was taken with the song (even facebooked you the link before reading this).

    I completely agree with your take on the sketches though! It seemed as they started with the punchline and pummeled it to the point of insulting Portland and the viewers rather than sharing a laugh.

  2. um are you ever going to update again????