A few nights ago, my husband and I – both lifelong Seattlites, decided to watch the premiere of Portlandia. The sketch-comedy show, filmed in Portland, features characters based on the city’s archetypal residents, and stars SNL‘s Fred Armisen, and Carrie Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney.
We enjoyed it. A lot. Perhaps a little too much.
At one point, I may have clutched his arm, shrieking, “Oh, god, it’s so true!” before erupting in a fit of giggles. In return, he might have laughed so hard, that, at some point, it became soundless. And after it was over, we just may have re-watched the opening vignette, “The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland.”
“How … how did they do it?” he marveled, after the show was over.
“I … I don’t know,” I whispered. “But it’s spot-on.”
Very nearly auto-biographical, one might say.
I initially learned about Portlandia while watching reruns of Judd Apatow’s Undeclared series on the International Film Channel (a statement which, even to me, sounds absurd). Almost immediately afterward, I found that nearly all of my friends (in the Pacific Northwest, at least) were talking about it. My friend Katie declared it “a documentary.” Chrissy posted a link to the first episode on my Facebook page, insisting that I watch it, immediately. Skye, a former PacNW girl now going to grad school in Baltimore, quoted it endlessly.
We were all hooked – in my opinion, it’s an inevitable consequence of us having been, at one time or another, Seattlites.
For us, Portland is like our town’s weird little sister. She shows up to family reunions with new piercings and tattoos, and a life-partner of unspecified gender named Nico. Compared to our stodgier siblings in Idaho, Montana, or even Northern California, Seattle is hip and cutting edge. But next to the counter-culture Bohemia of Portland? We’ve become mainstream. We’re the alternative music section in Target.