When my friend introduced me to “Portlandia,” I had absolutely no idea what was coming. I had never heard of the show and knew next to nothing about Portland, but as soon as the words “Keep Portland Weird” flashed in the opening credits, I knew it was going to speak to my inner Wesleyan hipster. I didn’t think I’d watch an entire season in a day or anything, but if my blurry vision and screwed up sleep schedule are any indication, I was completely mistaken. A satirical sketch comedy show, “Portlandia” is both filmed and set in Portland, Oregon and exaggerates and mocks its prevalent hipster culture. From overbearing obsessions with brunch to the absolute non-traditional wedding, from miserable journaling to an underground and experimental music scene, the show is brimming with snarky, dry humor parodying the animal-loving, tree-hugging, stereotypical hippies of Portland.
The show stars and was created and co-written by Fred Armisen, of “Saturday Night Live” fame, and Carrie Brownstein, both of whom play a variety of different characters in various recurring and one-time skits. Each character is completely original, with impressive transformations of voices, mannerisms, appearances, and often, genders. They hilariously portray convincing caricatures of Portland hipsters. One recurring skit that always has me crying with laughter is the “Feminist Bookstore,” in which Fred and Carrie play a lesbian bookkeeping couple. They’re hardcore feminists with a strong aversion to anything male, and they are not afraid to be upfront about it. Some classic lines include: “Every time you point, I see a penis,” and “Every time you say the word ‘unit,’ or ‘box’ or ‘equipment,’ I feel a penis here and a penis here…I am halfway to pregnant.”
Fred and Carrie find a way to make fun of the most random but hysterical hipster stereotypes, like getting into a “did you read” argument by trying to one up each other with the number of obscure articles they’ve read recently. The pair mock the DIY trends on Etsy and Pinterest, with the catchphrase “Put a bird on it!” demonstrating that pasting a cutout bird on just about anything turns it into a work of art. In another ridiculously hilarious skit, they play a couple on a date, interested in where exactly their food comes from. By that, I mean the specific chicken they plan on eating. I won’t give it all away, but their intense interest makes for a hilarious spoof on the farm-to-table phenomenon.
“Portlandia” is one of those shows that you can pick up and leave off just about anywhere, but don’t be mistaken; with just 22-minute episodes, you’ll probably end up binge-watching all three seasons in no time (thank god for Netflix!), and thoroughly terrifying your roommate with your non-stop cackling. And don’t worry, once you finish the first three seasons, you can watch the fourth season starting February 27th. Just don’t hold me responsible for your growing weirdness as your addiction to “Portlandia” settles in. Embrace it, and keep Wes (and Portland) weird.