Portlandia: Season One

11 September 2012 DVD

Portlandia: Season One

Talk about easy targets: self-righteous bicyclists and dumpster divers are among those affectionately mocked by this sketch comedy series about the bohemian paradise of Portland, Oregon. Co-stars Carrie Brownstein (singer-guitarist in Wild Flag) and Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) fully inhabit these archetypes, proving indie rock culture doesn’t need much exaggerating to become absurd. But the show pushes into odder, more layered humour than its premise suggests. A sketch about inserting cute bird motifs on every item in a shop becomes doubly funny when a real bird flies in to panic the couple. There’s a freaky dark streak and many squirmy moments, especially as the show can get claustrophobic with Brownstein and Armisen at the centre of every sketch. Offsetting that are top guest stars including Steve Buscemi and Heather Graham, and Kyle MacLachlan as the would-be hip mayor. The last two of these six episodes are noticeably weaker, but Portlandia remains both manic and sharp.

Doug Wallen

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