How Portland Became Portlandia

Television show “Portlandia” takes inspiration from the eclectic nature of Portland, Oregon

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen during filming of the current season of

Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen during filming of the current season of “Portlandia” (Photo via Flick under the Creative Commons License).

Portland, Oregon sparked as a haven for musicians and other artistic individuals during the mid to late 1990s following popular interest in the Pacific Northwest after the explosive grunge and Riot Grrrl scene. The combination of a creative hippie-esque nature, actually nature, low cost of living, and an influx of jobs were attractive to those in early adulthood.

Oregon native and Sleater Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein and former SNL actor Fred Armisen collaborated to bring social commentary regarding Portland to a television audience through an IFC original show Portlandia.

The show is composed as a series of skits that’s utilizes quirky and dry humor to address to eclectic nature of Portland’s inhabitants and the city’s new found hipster population. Leading many skits to be based on handlebar mustaches and feminist movements.

In the opening scene of the first episode of the first season, Portlandia captures “The Dream of the 90s.” This song and dance addresses individuals’ love for Portland as a city frozen in the 90s through piercings, tribal tattoos, part-time work at a coffee shop, attractive nerds, and as a place, “where young people go to retire.”

The skit most critically acclaimed during Portlandia’s seven seasons is “The Feminist Bookstore.” Two strong feminist, Toni played by Brownstein and Candace played by Armisen, run a feminist bookstore called Women and Women First. Their collection of obscure female written novel and knicknacks paired with outlandish customer service leaves to a lack of sales and many frightened customers such as actor Aubrey Plaza playing an aloof college student. This skit has led to great success for the show due to  Armisen’s portrayal of a women and the overall dynamic between both kooky owners aggression towards anything slightly misogynistic. Leading to many laughs while raising awareness for feminism.

This IFC original series will conclude after eight seasons in 2018. Ending a legacy of social commentary based the coffee loving, tattoo wearing, and the “I’ve known that band before they were popular” attitude that may be attributed to Portland and depicted on Portlandia.

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