List Headline Image
Updated by Kendra Brea Cooper on Jul 21, 2014
Headline for The Emmys are Alive in Portland: 8 Reasons Why We Love Portlandia
 REPORT
8 items   1 followers   0 votes   142 views

The Emmys are Alive in Portland: 8 Reasons Why We Love Portlandia

This year, Portlandia is an Emmy darling with six nominations. The show is a hit because it plays on our dear subcultures and counter cultures. While doing so, they poke good fun at the sometimes hilarious moments that happen while living outside the mainstream, and trying so hard to stay cool and not get sucked back into it.

1

Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein

Carrie Brownstein is your punk best friend. She shares her talents not only in Portlandia, but also as a member of the band Sleater-Kinney and (sometimes) Wild Flag, making her a way cooler triple-threat than any pop princess who can sing, dance, and act. Singing, writing, and acting is the new claim to indie fame.

2

Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen

Fred Armisen was past cast member on Saturday Night Live for over ten years, so his variety show talents are sharp. Like Brownstein, he has a background in music, acting, and writing. He's well known for his power of impersonation and lesser known for the voices he lends to video games such as Grand Theft Auto.

3

Indie Culture and Resistance Culture

Indie Culture and Resistance Culture

Portlandia does a wonderful job poking jabs at indie culture inside it's short skits. Local fresh food, feminist book stores, and punk weddings are just some of the sub and counter culture activities they've covered. Living outside the mainstream starts out as something only a few do, as a subculture (or if it's trying to change the mainstream it is then a counter culture), but if it catches on, it can become a mainstream activity. This can be a good thing, or sometimes it just gets incorporated into something we consume and only sustains the ideologies we're trying to change, and so we're back to square one with resistance. Portlandia will not run out of topics as these cultures are always changing, re-imagining, resisting, or being swallowed by the mainstream, much like the characters in the skits.

4

Humour that Doesn't Need to Be Forced

Humour that Doesn't Need to Be Forced

Most of the skits aren't full of in-your-face slapstick humour. The subtleties are what make the skits so funny, and we often feel culturally "aware" when we can pick them up. So in a way, the whole show is a joke within a joke because they make light fun out of those who think they're cool unique, while the audience laughs because they're looking for the same indie culture coolness. The middle man between a subculture and the mainstream is known to us as the "hipster", and provides great humour in all shapes and sizes in this show.

5

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, has a mythical quality to it. Vegan restaurants and Anarchist coffee shops are just some of the visible activities of mainstream resistance Portland has become famous for. We see it as a place where something is always brewing, and culture is always stirring. Most cities have that sub/counterculture aspect, which is why this show has such a wide audience.

6

The 90s

The 90s

Portlandia has a very 90s vibe to it, as the writers have said themselves that they often draw inspiration from that decade. From the obvious "The 90s are Alive in Portland" song, to the famous nineties celebrities such as Eddie Vedder, it's no secret that the 90s floats in the background. It's perfect timing for 90s nostalgia as all the Gen X/Y kids have grown up, and the decade is far enough away for teenagers to pine over it. Much of the culture they skit about was birthed in the 90s, and has seen many changes over the years, from resistance to mainstream and back again.

7

Learning to Laugh at Yourself

Learning to Laugh at Yourself

Many who watch Portlandia see a little bit of themselves in the do-gooder skits. Whether it is politics or just plain ol' organic farming, there has been a time when we've stepped out of the mainstream and felt the need to brag about it in self-righteousness. Sometimes we do it for ethics, and other times we do it to be cool and unique. Portlandia points that absurdity out to us, and for a moment, we're actually laughing at ourselves.

8

Familiarity and Guest Actors

Familiarity and Guest Actors

Portlandia not only has us seeing ourselves, but they do such a good job with characters that we can often see someone we know in them. This is because they nail the culture on the head every time they write the script, and indie culture never subsides, so a familiar character is never far. They also use guest hosts like Jeff Goldblum and Steve Buscemi, who are the favourite actors of a generation.