Did you watch the maiden episode of “Portlandia,” Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s half-hour ode to the 503? You know, the one that aired Friday at 10:30 p.m.? Ahh, you have “a life,” I see. No worries. Read on.
The pilot opens with L.A. Carrie — and we know she’s in L.A. because she’s wearing Uggs and a velour tracksuit — walking her dog when Beanie-Wearing Fred is all, “I’m back from Portland! It is magic there. Remember the ’90s?” And she’s all “Wha?” and he’s like, You know. When people did ridonkulous stuff like getting tribal tattoos but also cool stuff like not littering all the time? A mystical land is frozen there, he explains urgently, as only a man wearing a green beanie can. “The dream of the ’90s is alive in Porrrrtlaaand,” he sings, rubbing his voice all over you to a synthy beat. Cut to chanting hipster army. They’re singing behind him! They aren’t wearing pants! Portland is coming for you, with its slackerly juggle-youth!
L.A. Carrie converts, running to the waterfront in flannel and a different kind of velour: brown hippie velour, the kind that is OK. She is ready.
Then Portland Carrie & Fred, with hair snatched from a raven-tressed clown, are eating together because they love each other and also love food. Organic, local, heritage chicken-type food. But wait! Did their chicken get to play with other chickens? Their waitress isn’t sure. But at least it was fed free-range filet mignon on the farm, amirite? They check Collin the Chicken’s papers and mug shot and are like, we don’t know about this chickens eating filet mignon nonsense and plus you look like a lying liar so we’re gonna go to the farm and check it out. Right after we do this feminist bookstore sketch.
Feminist Bookstore Fred & Carrie have really long hair, drink tea made from poo, and work in Women & Women First (which looks remarkably similar to In Other Words, the real Northeast Portland feminist bookstore). What’s this? In a flagrant assault to the matriarchy, Steve Buscemi uses the bathroom without buying anything. He’s all, OK I will buy this random book, but Gandalf Fred says “Would you go into a puzzle store and buy one puzzle piece?” which is lady-bookstorespeak for “You uterusless oppressor, YOU SHALL NOT PASS.” Verbal sparring ensues: Buscemi tries to buy his way out so he can go fight the dragon, Brownstein informs him it ain’t no back-alley hooker store, and Buscemi exclaims he’s no pimp. “When a man pulls out money away from a register, I have to wonder,” Brownstein deadpans.
Farm Action Pack Fred & Carrie arrive on the chicken prairie to meet Liesel and the other seven brides for seven brothers … except there’s only one brother, Aliki (pronounced “Aleaky” and played by SNL‘s Jason Sudeikis). Aliki and the wheat-haired princesses from Big Love welcome them to Collin’s home. Aliki’s version of welcoming them, however, is to cast a magic love spell on them using fresh air, sunflowers, and a Mr. Rogers sweater. They become entranced, hardly noticing the jolly Mary Poppins women feeding the birds (tuppence a bag). As Aliki stares into his eyes, Fred starts blubbering things like, “People tell me that my body looks like a melted candle.” Before long, they enter into a twelve-way marriage and Aliki is groping Fred’s ass and making sounds that should rightfully only come from a motorboat.
Next, Molester-‘Stached Fred and Hipster Carrie’s hide-and-seek team embarks on a serious league game in the library … except they all suck. Carrie wears huge glasses clearly stolen from the nearest grandfather and one of those headbands that are incredibly hip despite making your hair look like a mushroom. Fred picks the wrong weary old lady’s table to hide under, partly because she lectures him but also because the camera angle makes it look like she’s giving birth to him while wearing green Talbots pants in a dark pit. Over post-game beers, they’re visited by a grizzled Hell’s Angels Santa who’d been successfully hiding in the library since the 1970s, but he disappears before you can say why is the 7-year-old referee drinking a beer. Then, Child Ref sneaks back to his hidey-hole in the library, an ominous Catholic church crossed with a cave crossed with the Starship Blastica.
Whew. There may also have been something about Aliki dying but I’m out of room. Tune in to IFC this Friday at 10:30 p.m. for another tasty squeeze from the laughter-lemon that is Portlandia.
Get Grist in your inbox