All the hot girls wear glasses. No one has jobs, people sleep till 11. Portland is a city where young people go to retire. And it’s like cars don’t exist! You ride bikes, you ride double-decker bikes, you ride unicycles! Apparently, the dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland.
Thanks to some masterful viral marketing, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s new IFC show Portlandia—a send-up of the Oregon city’s flannel-loving counterculture—is getting a lot of buzz. Even The New York Times picked it up, and they don’t cover anything until a doctor or psychologist has deemed it A Trend. But what do Portland natives think of being in the spotlight? And are Portland, Maine natives confused and/or bitter the show’s not about them?
Anne Adams, my counterpart at our sister publication Portland Monthly and someone who’s guilty of sleeping until 11, brought this show to my attention and has an interesting theory about Portland’s slacker insurgence:
In the 90s, Seattle woke up (at eleven) in the new “hotbed of counterculture”—then immediately suffocated under the weight of a whole nation trying to pile on top of its mosh-mound. If Portland currently hosts the “dream of the 90s”, then it stands to reason that we’re about to endure the same rude awakening as our Seattle neighbors.
Admittedly, I wasn’t in Seattle in the ‘90s — I was in school in New Jersey, where guidos and guidettes roamed free and everyone showed up to prom a self-tanned shade of burnt sienna. Sort of. Just as Jersey Shore and Jerseylicious zing the Garden State and all its foibles, Portlandia has the potential to be equally hilarious: an SNL-styled satire (SNL circa the ’90s, or else it won’t be hilarious) that pokes fun at all that Portland natives love—and kind of hate—about themselves. It’s good, old-fashioned exaggeration.
Did Seattle suffocate under all that media attention? I certainly wouldn’t say the counterculture shriveled up and died here. Sure, flannel now counts as business casual, but what of our rising hip-hop scene, our dedication to local farmers, our ability to teach tourists to recycle? We survived and thrived, and I have a feeling that Portland will endure this new spat of attention, too.
Especially since I don’t even know what the IFC channel is. Seriously, is it basic cable?
Portlandia premieres on IFC January 21 at 10:30pm.