Kristen Wiig and Jason Sudeikis Star In Netflix’s Cult Comedy, Portlandia. We Talk To Creator Fred Armisen

10 July 2012 by

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein as feminist bookshop owners in Portlandia

There’s an area in every big city where the food is organic, the tea is herbal, where shelves of local bookshops are filled with feminist literature and everyone has a tribal tattoo, unexpected piercing  and those with perfect vision walk around in glasses.  

You know where we’re talking about. And a new sketch show has tapped into the mores of these hipster post codes and pillories them with a razor sharp wit.

Portlandia, created by and starring Saturday Night Live regular Fred Armisen and indie rock legend Carrie Brownstein (Sleater Kinney, Wild Flag), is a hilarious send up of a certain brand of middle class living that any urbanite will recognise.

Through a kaleidoscope of characters like Toni and Candace (the surly owners of the Women & Women First bookshop, above) and Bryce And Lisa (the permanently cheery ex-scenester couple) the duo take the satirical microscope to hipster “issues” like ‘not leaving the house because you’ve become addicted to a box set’ and ‘being cool’ with your cleaning lady not cleaning properly. 

Fred and Carrie first met through their mutual friend, Sleater Kinney drummer Janet Weiss. “It wasn’t a romantic thing, but we immediately hit it off,” says Fred, who was briefly married to Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss.

They forged a creative partnership by making short, surreal sketches together. “Whereas most friends go to lunch or dinner, we would work on a skit together,” explains Fred. “We had a feeling of ‘we have nothing to lose’. We didn’t care if there were no jokes or even a point to the sketches. We just wanted to make them.” 

These “weird sketches” developed into Portlandia, which was picked up by independent cable network IFC – and is now picking up a cult following over here on Netflix.

The duo chose Portland, Oregan, as the setting because it was the perfect example to them of a city that had been given a hipster makeover. Despite their ribbing of the city, there's been no bad feeling amongst the local residents. “There's no backlash! People couldn't be more welcoming when we film here,” he says.

This might be why Portlandia has attracted the cream of US talent, including Jason Sudeikis, who plays a creepy tree-hugging hippy in the first episode. Kyle MacLachlan reoccurs at the town’s oddball mayor, and Queen of Comedy Kristen Wiig, as a, well, nutjob with a skewed sense of humour.

It’s the antidote to any hipster takeover near you. And really funny.

Instantly watch Portlandia, seasons 1&2 on Netflix,

By Priya Elan 


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