tune in: television

Portland, Meet Portlandia.

The new SNL-affiliated show saddles Portland with "The Dream Of The 90s," but hopefully not the nightmare.

By Anne Adams December 19, 2010

UPDATE! Our neighbors to the North have responded to this post. Read Seattle Metropolitan Magazine’s take on Portlandia, and whether or not their original “dream of the 90’s” actually died.

This early glimpse of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia, reveals that the IFC/SNL show that bills itself as a comedy, actually seems more bent on sociological commentary. Brace yourself for the first Big Idea: “The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland.”

Let’s test this. Does Young Idealistic Portland:
…sleep ’til 11? Guilty.
…indulge childish or counterculturual whims? Indeed.
…wear cheap clothes? Posi-lutely.

Are these 90s values as well? Yes.

But there’s something else I remember about the early 90s: computers hadn’t quite “hit” yet. The internet, while it existed, was still in its infancy—the subject of intrigue and mystery. The idea that you could send “mail,” that was not tangible, that was called “e…mail,” was printed about in still-thriving glossy magazines. Little did we know then, that regular use of the internet had the potential to eventually legitimize the 90s slacker lifestyle into a viable M.O. These days, E-commerce and information jobs enable many of Portland’s crafty, “alternative” homebodies to make a sustainable living, even while they roost unshaven in the corner of a coffeeshop. The key word though, is sustainable. The Portland idealist/artist economy is not bountiful, by any means.

In the 90s, Seattle woke up (at eleven) in the new “hotbed of counterculture”—then immediately suffocated under the weight of a whole nation trying to pile on top of its mosh-mound. If Portland currently hosts the “dream of the 90s”, then it stands to reason that we’re about to endure the same rude awakening as our Seattle neighbors. And if Portlandia ’s smoke signals entice even slightly less-productive citizens into the welcoming flannel arms of Portland Proper, we may quickly run out of enough home-grown tomatoes to feed them.

A dream described is too often a dream destroyed, and a lot of Portland’s best art-punks are already skinny, poor and cold. Hopefully this show encourages the rest of the world to stay home, laugh at us, and buy things from our fine city’s many Bandcamp sites and Etsy stores. Because if everyone tries to move here and “retire early,” then the show’s over. Please, Portlandia, handle us with care.

For a more comprehensive list of events, visit PoMo’s Arts & Entertainment Calendar!

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