11 Shows with Portland Connections You Can Stream Right Now

Easy-access TV with roots in the Rose City, from a Nickelodeon classic to a slice of David Fincher neo-noir

By Conner Reed

Jonathan Groff and Happy Anderson at the Oregon State Penitentiary (well, actually somewhere in Pennsylvania) in the first season of Mindhunter.


This loose adaptation of Stranger writer Lindy West’s memoir transposes the book’s setting from Seattle to Portland—and in a rare twist, it’s actually shot here. With a third and final season on the way, you can wolf down the show’s first two installments now, which follow budding journalist Annie (Aidy Bryant) as she tries to untangle self-empowerment from selfishness, navigate a career beneath her temperamental boss (John Cameron Mitchell, playing a Dan Savage type), and wrestle with a deadbeat love interest (Luka Jones). Wonderful supporting turns from Lolly Adefope and Patti Harrison round out this scrappy, authentic little comedy, which consistently treads familiar ground with surprising freshness. Streaming on Hulu


For being Portland’s most controversial cultural export, Portlandia sure is innocuous. The mention of this silly, sometimes-surreal IFC sketch show created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein will elicit a visceral response from pretty much any local you meet (whether or not they’ve actually seen it), and for better or worse, it’s responsible for shaping the Rose City in plenty of outsiders’ minds. All eight(!) seasons are streaming on Netflix now, and if you’re looking for low-effort, kooky comedy with a surprisingly high hit rate, go ahead and treat yourself—we won’t tell anyone. Streaming on Netflix

American Vandal, Season 2

After its first season—a shockingly potent story about class and adolescence and spray-painted dicks—nabbed a Peabody Award, this gone-too-soon true crime parody moved from California to the Northwest for the follow up. Season two is set at a fictional high school in Bellevue (but shot in and around Portland) where our heroes, a pair of AV nerds, investigate an especially gross gastronomical crime. Plenty of folks were put off by the season’s frontloaded toilet humor, but on the whole, this cut of American Vandal is a least as good as its predecessor, and it culminates in a genuinely moving, nuanced take on social alienation that puts it in conversation with something like How To with John Wilson. A local bonus: familiar faces from the local theater scene crop up throughout. Streaming on Netflix

Gravity Falls 

This cult two-season Disney property is set in the titular fictional Oregon town (reportedly inspired by Boring), which gives it shades of “cartoon Twin Peaks for kids.” It follows Dipper and Mabel Pines (voiced by Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal) as they investigate supernatural occurrences in Gravity Falls with their great uncle. In its brief run, the show scooped up two Emmy Awards, three Annies, and a BAFTA Children’s Award, and passionate internet have kept it very much alive. Streaming on Hulu and Disney+


This slick slice of David Fincher noir detours to Oregon in the back half of its first season, when real-life serial killer Jerry Brudos (played by Happy Anderson), who killed at least four women between Portland and Salem in the late ’60s, pops up as an interview subject for Jonathan Groff’s Holden Ford. Ford visits Brudos at the Oregon State Penitentiary, but those sections where shot at Greensburg, PA’s State Correctional Institution—the first(?) time Pennsylvania has ever stood in for the Beaver State. Streaming on Netflix

Life Unexpected

This sudsy CW concoction, set in Portland but shot (where else) in Vancouver, BC, follows a teenager with an amazing name (Lux Cassidy) who reunites with her biological parents after a childhood in foster care. Like a gentler inverse of ABC Family’s Secret Life of the American Teenager, Life Unexpected was fairly beloved in its brief two season run, where it crossed over with a late episode of One Tree Hill Streaming on Paramount+

The Real World: Portland

The newly renamed Paramount+ scored streaming rights for MTV’s prototypical reality empire, and that means you can nab a subscription, open some wine, and settle in for the Real World’s 28th season, where a group of young coeds cohabitated at the edge of the Pearl District, right off the North Park Blocks. The Real World: Portland holds the distinct honor of being the first Real World installment to credit a dog as a cast member in its opening titles: Daisy, the Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix that waitress Averey Tressler brought with her to PDX from Arizona. Streaming on Paramount+ 

Hey, Arnold!

Craig Bartlett, creator of this beloved Nickelodeon title, was born in Anacortes, WA. After graduating college in Olympia, he moved to Portland and studied under Will Vinton, where he earned his animation bona fides. Hillwood, the fictional city where Hey, Arnold is set, looks a lot like Brooklyn—but it’s canonically located in Washington State, and Bartlett has said that the architecture takes additional inspiration from Portland and Seattle. Streaming on Hulu

Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists

A short-lived spinoff of the hugely popular ABC Family series, this Portland-shot teen mystery was sacked after just 10 episodes. Still, it scored some critical success: the show holds a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Paste praised its "artistically sharp and spooky" construction. If you feel like catching up with the sprawling original series, more power to you: all 160 episodes are currently available on HBO Max. Streaming on Hulu 


Adapted from the graphic novels by Greg Rucka, this Portland-set ABC procedural played a bit of a fakeout: much of the pilot was shot in the Rose City, and the rest of production retreated to California, save a handful of exteriors. Still, as latter-day network fare goes, Stumptown is pretty watchable stuff: How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders stars as Dex Parios, an Afghanistan vet and private investigator who regularly crosses paths with a dreamy detective (Michael Ealy) while she takes on under-the-table cases to dig herself out of debt. Streaming on Hulu


A silly NBC fantasy procedural with surprising longevity, Grimm lasted for six seasons and 123 episodes. It follows a Portland homicide detective (David Giuntoli) who discovers he has supernatural ancestry and embarks on various monster-of-the-week journeys with a colorful crew of sidekicks. Streaming on Amazon Prime

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