No less than 4 times this week have friends and/or acquaintances asked me the same question: “Have you seen the show Portlandia.” And no less than 3 times, the answer was no. There are two main reasons why I had not yet indulged in IFC’s sleeper comedy hit about the life and times of Portland, OR’s hip residents: first, I read a review of the show in the Globe and Mail that made me wary and second, I try to confine my TV watching to fantasy shows and mind-numbingly dumb reality television. On Saturday night, however, having watch the generally bad-ass “Immortals” on my flight back to Vancouver, I sat through 2 episodes of Portlandia (30 minute shows make ideal end-of-flight entertainment.
So what did you think of the show?… (she asked herself). Well, to be honest, not a whole lot. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the irony of subtly mocking manufactured hipster irony and it isn’t that I don’t find alternative lifestyles amusing/confusingly desirable… it’s just that a show that simultaneously mocks and promotes (i.e. you won’t really understand the show if you are not already a part of the crowd) the hipster/scenester/yuppie lifestyle seems absurdly mastubatory. It is as though the show’s creators (who you can read all about here and here and here) really just wanted a vehicle for their unique brand of cool that didn’t seem like they were taking themselves too seriously. In this way, “Portlandia” reminds me of the self-congratulatory sub-culture-cool shows that came before it (i.e. “Californiacation” which I will admit to having only watched 3 times and not being any kind of expert on).
So I probably won’t watch Portlandia again. The debate over whether it is just a show about hipsters making fun of hipsters doesn’t even figure in this decision. Truth be told, I just didn’t find the shorts very funny. Also, if something like this can be put on the air, I absolutely INSIST that “It’s Just Some Random Guy” gets a series on the IFC (amazing video posted below). Now THAT is funny and the comic book industry should be sufficiently cool/sub-culture chic/hipster to garner an audience to match Portlandia’s.
A Joke (one I tell far too often):
Why did the hipster burn her mouth?
Because she ate pizza before it was cool.