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Television | Little-watched IFC network now has a big hit

Issue: "Tour d'America road rage," Feb. 11, 2012

The little-watched IFC network now has a big hit, Friday night's Portlandia, starring Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. Set in Portland, Ore., where "the dream of the '90s is alive," the show has developed a cult following among many in their 20s and 30s, and dozens of its clips have gone viral on YouTube.

The show sports flannel shirts, funky glasses, and a melancholy coffee shop vibe, but it's mostly about weird people-including clowns on tricked-out tricycles and bikers in star-spangled thongs-and bizarre moral codes. The show mocks everything from liberal sacred chickens (Google "portlandia chicken") to recycling turned freecycling or dumpster-diving.

Sadly, Portlandia sometimes treats reverently the idea of Portland as postmodern utopia. Beneath all the ribbing is a celebration of weirdness, including sexual perversity that occasionally reaches the level of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. YouTubing some of the clips provides an amusing introduction to parts of ultra-blue America that folks in red areas rarely see, but the show relishes destructive behavior too often to recommend regular watching.

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Emily Whitten
Emily Whitten

Emily reviews books and movies for WORLD and is a contributor at She homeschools her two children and sees books through the eyes of a mother.


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