'Portlandia's Final Season: Turning Skeptics Into Fully Fledged Fans
By this point, Portlandia—currently airing its eighth and final season—has earned the right to take a victory lap. Fans frequently credit the zeitgeisty series with revitalizing the sketch-comedy genre, and I’m right there with ’em. But to point out that I’m late to the party would be a huge understatement.
When the show first debuted in 2011, it held little appeal for me. I had yet to appreciate Fred Armisen’s vast talent. As for his excellent chameleon of a costar, Carrie Brownstein? Well, this is embarrassing: I thought she and Flight of the Conchords’ Kristen Schaal were one and the same. (I know, right? I’m the worst.)
Still, the biggest turnoff was the subject matter. The way I saw it—and keep in mind, I hadn’t ever watched a single second—this portrait of smug Oregonians was made by hipsters, for hipsters, about hipsters. In other words, not my cup of matcha tea. Since it was out of my comfort zone, I dug in and refused it out of stubborn pride.
Over the years, well-intentioned folks would mention Portlandia to me. “Do you watch? Oh, no? I think you’d like it!” (Cue my eye-roll.) Turns out they were right, which I finally discovered during a long-overdue indoctrination late last year.
Now that I’ve been converted, my biggest revelation has been how wrong I was to assume it would be one-note or that I wouldn’t be able to see myself in this world. Is there hipster humor to be found? Sure! It’s hilarious—and while it does address a certain niche, it’s also universal and accessible. But that’s just one component. Armisen and Brownstein cast a wide anthropological net. They skewer all types, and I never laugh harder than when their target resembles someone like me.
Portlandia, Thursday, Feb. 15, 10/9c, IFC
This article also appeared in the Feb. 5 - Feb. 18 issue of TV Guide Magazine.