Created by: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Jonathan Krisel Starring: Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein
At the beginning of this summer, my sister sat me down and made me watch the beginning sequence to Portlandia, which is a song entitled “The Dream of the 90’s Is Still Alive in Portland.” The sequence includes everyone wearing lots of flannel, hot girls in glasses, and obsessions with coffee shops. I nearly peed my pants, and an obsession was born. I’ve been catching up on the series since then, and so when I was given Season 3 of Portlandia to review, I was BEYOND ecstatic.
Portlandia is a sketch comedy series set in and around the strangest large city in America… and possibly the world, Portland, Oregon. I myself have been to Portland and absolutely loved it. As my friend and I sat at a cafe sampling their vegan cuisine (but secretly plotting to visit McDonald’s later on), we saw a 6’6” man with a hot pink mohawk, matching stiletto pumps, walking his tiny Chihuahua. That about sums up Portland and this series in a nutshell. In Portlandia, anything goes, and no one is safe from ridicule.
Former SNL cast member, Fred Armisen, and former guitarist and vocalist for band Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein, play a grand bevy of outlandish characters. One of these funny pairs is Toni and Candice who own the Ultra Feminist Bookstore, Women & Women. The two women (yes, played by both Armisen and Brownstein) beat every poor soul who happens into their shop with über feminist propaganda, complete with outrageous claims that all of the men are only in there to force themselves on the two and vagina pillows… yes, vagina pillows.
Also, be on the look out for Kath and Dave, an outdoorsy couple who think that they have all of the answers because they have read all of the books and have all of the proper equipment. Another is Peter and Nance, who are a married couple that open up a bed and breakfast together. One of the funniest moments with the two is when they go to a Doily Shop, owned by Jeff Goldbloom, to buy four bags of doilies for their Bed and Breakfast. There’s also Nina and Lance, a typical young couple in love… except that Armisen plays girly girl Nina, and Brownstein plays macho man Lance… which makes for a seriously uncomfortable but hilarious duo.
The series does have a slight story arc, which is mostly evident with the characters of Carrie and Fred (yes, they are just playing goofier versions of themselves), and their relationship with the mayor of Portland, Mr. Mayor, played by the hilariously uncomfortable and always dapper, Kyle MacLachlan. In this current season, we see the three try to take back MTV, recruit more citizens for the city of Portland, and save the city from a blackout and possible takeover from the dreaded city of Seattle. This season also boasts other fantastical guest appearances from Roseanne Barr, Chloë Sevingy, No Doubt, and many others.
The series is in NTSC format, which is standard on most television box sets. The video looks as good and vibrant as it would anywhere else. The colors are great, and I especially love how they will change the colors, the filters, and even the video format for each sketch to give each story a different feel.
The audio is pretty standard on the two discs and sounds (no pun intended) very good. You will be able to hear every line of dry dialogue, every sardonic song, and every silly sound effect.
The Packaging and Bonus Materials
The Packaging is everything I would expect and more from the series. The box set comes in an eco friendly cardboard box with the sleeve inside for the two DVDs. There are some fantastical pictures of Armisen and Brownstein’s characters and of course, pictures of their beloved Portland.
The Bonus Materials are even better. There are two deleted scenes which will have you chuckling after the series ends, and my personal favorite, a tour of Portland with guest star and incredible stand up comedian, Kumail Nanjiani. He takes you through some of Portland’s best including the feminist bookstore that Women & Women is based upon, a vegan strip club, and my personal favorite spot in Portland, Voodoo Doughnuts. Voodoo Doughnuts is only open at night for the club goers, and here you can buy a “Cock and Balls” doughnut which is in the appropriate shape, and yes, cream filled. Took me two days to finish one of those bad boys. The only thing I would have loved on the extras would have been commentaries from Armisen and Brownstein themselves.
Overall (not an average)
This is seriously one of the funniest series out there. This season was no disappointment. And on another funny note, Portland may be the strangest city in the US, but if you live in any metropolis with an artistic crowd, you are going to get this show on another level. Living in Nashville, I know someone like each and every one of the characters Armisen and Brownstien play… and sadly, I am like some of the characters portrayed as well. Make sure that you don’t take yourself too seriously before starting on this series;)