We love revisiting classic shows at EF and one that’s recently been rediscovered is Portlandia. Heralded as the future of sketch comedy on its launch in 2011, Portlandia is the brainchild of Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and Jonathan Krisel.
Fred Armisen is a very familiar face, having appeared on Saturday Night Live in the past. He’s guest-starred in some of the best sitcoms around including Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock, whilst being an accomplished musician and writer to boot. He also has a scene-stealing cameo as a creepy train passenger in Eurotrip, easily the films funniest scene.
Carrie Brownstein made her name in rock band Sleater-Kinney. She also fronted Portland supergroup Wild Flag and has the accolade of being the only female entry in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 25 ‘Most Underrated Guitarists of All-Time’.
Portlandia is that rare project that seems to work at both a literal and surreal level. At times you will just sit back and question what the hell you’ve just watched, but all the while you’ll appreciate just what a subtle level of genius this all is. It’s still riding high in the US with Season 4 having just started. The UK has been slow to pick this up but the DVDs are available of Seasons 1-3 and the show is available on Netflixs and other VOD platforms.
So here are our top 5 moments from Season 1 of Portlandia, which is available to buy from Amazon now.
5. Dumpster Divers
Fred and Carrie prepare for a dinner party in true Eco-fashion and the results are brilliant! Who wouldn’t want to go over for dinner?
4. The Everything Plan
Portlandia boasts some amazing star cameos in Season 1 including Steve Buscemi, Sarah McLachlan and Aimee Mann. When the Mayor of Portland (Twin Peaks’ Kyle MacLachlan) goes missing, Fred and Carrie are on the case and think they’ve found a great way to track him down… trace his cell phone.
3. Portlandia opening credits
Yes, we know this is just the title sequence but it stands as a real testament to the type of show Portlandia wants to be. TV title sequences are a rarity these days so it’s nice to see one that not only tries to do something different (especially for a comedy sketch show) but also makes a conscious effort to add style and ambience to it.
This is a really great sequence, very well directed and coupled with ‘Washed Out – Feel It All Around’ as the theme, gives the viewer a great chill-out postcard to Portland’s picturesque landmarks. You know you are in for something special when these titles kick in.
2. Coffee Land
What the hell?! We had to watch this a few times to get it (and we still don’t) but it’s utterly brilliant. The nods to oriental pop culture, coffee shop satire and the plain ridiculousness of the whole situation leaves us perplexed and in hysterics. And there’s a pug in it too!
1. Dream of the 90s
I don’t think we’ve ever been hooked on a show so quickly before, but the very first sketch in the pilot episode is complete gold. It sets the scene for the whole series, its a damn catchy tune and the lyrics are astutely accurate. Listen to this and recollect your own dreams from the 90s.