References to the I.F.C. show Portlandia have been popping up around the office a lot lately, so we were thrilled to be able to attend the Season 2 premiere here in New York at the Natural History Museum two weeks ago. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein were in attendance to introduce the season to a packed theater that included Andy Samberg, Krisen Wiig, and Jeff Goldblum, all of which make cameos in the second season. We’re happy to report that after the success of the first season, with more support and momentum, the second season is even funnier.
Season two resurrects some of the first season’s characters, including the über-sensitive clerks from the feminist bookstore who are indignant to any word with phallic connotations, and the neurotic, upper middle class, city dweller couple who are clearly out of place in nature. One of the best cameos of season two is Samberg’s suave, yet corny mixologist, whose signature cocktail (a ginger-based bourbon drink infused with honey lemon, charred ice, cherry tomato, lime zest, homemade bitters, egg whites, eggshell, egg yellow, a rotton banana, and a little bit of love) inspires Brownstein to make him a mix tape. The show also pokes fun at the artisanal craze, with Goldblum cast as an artisanal knot maker, and featuring another light bulb maker whose lightbulbs are so ridiculously expensive and laborious to make that it take weeks to make a single lightbulb, leaving his customers literally in the dark. What makes Portlandia so great is its ability to poke fun at its core audience – particularly those that are encapsulated in hip/progressive enclaves – Portland, Williamsburg, Wicker Park, Austin, the Bay Area, and its ability to get the audience to laugh at themselves. One particularly revealing sketch at the end of the second episode involves a writer from Pitchfork, who after writing a perfect 10 review of a band that promotes its uniqueness by having a cat and a kidnapper in the band, drives the music site to completely shut down. That sequence drew a roar of applause from the theater audience, demonstrating Pitchfork readers disdain towards the oftentimes pretentious site, yet for the joke to work, Portlandias’ writers had to realize that as much as their audience is annoyed by Pitchfork’s reviews, they still loyally read them. Which they do. In a world where it’s more commonplace to laugh at others, Portlandia demonstrates that sometimes, it’s just as fulfilling to laugh at ourselves.