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,” brining everything from eggs at an urban farm to a broken high heel found on the sidewalk.) “Portlandia” is an extended joke about what Freud called the narcissism of small differences: the need to distinguish oneself by minute shadings and to insist, with outsized militancy, on the importance of those shadings.
Brownstein, who is also one of the show’s writers and producers, told me, “In general, things in a place like Portland are really great, so little concerns become ridiculous.
(The real Portland’s mayor, Sam Adams, who is openly gay, plays Mac Lachlan’s assistant on the show.) Armisen and Brownstein, wearing anthropologically precise wigs and outfits, portray most of the main characters: bicycle-rights activists, dumpster divers, campaigners against any theoretical attempt to bring the Olympics to Portland, animal lovers so out of touch that they free a pet dog tied up outside a restaurant. ”) Many characters recur, and, because they often seem to know one another, their intersections from sketch to sketch give the show the feel of a grownup “Sesame Street.” This childlike vibe has an edge to it, however; as an Armisen character explains at one point, Portland is “where young people go to retire.”Armisen, who is forty-five, is a seasoned comic actor who has been in the cast of “Saturday Night Live” since 2002, but Brownstein’s involvement in “Portlandia” is surprising.
She had never done comedy before collaborating with Armisen, and, in many ways, she is the epitome of the indie culture that the show sends up.
Last year, Brownstein started a new band, Wild Flag, with the drummer from Sleater-Kinney, Janet Weiss, and two other indie-rock eminences, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole.“She was a straight-out-of-the-box rock star.” Sometimes this side of Brownstein appears on “Portlandia”—when one of her characters needs to freak out, she delivers a great howl. The warmth is not in the writing, which leans toward the acerbic, but you can find it in other places, like the show’s dreamy look.In the opening-credit sequence, a chillwave instrumental plays over a montage of lush, tree-lined streets and saturated neon against an inky blue sky.“I have absolutely nothing to hide,” she told magazine.Of the public’s interest in her dating life, Schilling adds, “It’s so weird.