The better the TV show, the longer the time between seasons. That’s the new paradigm. (Don’t you love the word “paradigm”?) The very best shows — stuff like Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey and and now Portlandia— spend more time off the air than they do on. That’s sometimes frustrating, but not surprising. The fact is, it takes a lot longer to write a good book than to read it.
But at least Portlandia is back. Here’s the first episode of Season 2. The first sequence — an Allergy Pride Parade — is hilarious and spot on, the others less so but still pretty good. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are great comics and play off each other perfectly. I’ll bet producer Lorne Michaels wishes he could get this kind of quality on every episode of Saturday Night Live. But then, of course, SNL would be on once a fortnight instead of once a week.
One reason I like Portlandia so much is that it reminds me of quite a few too-cool towns I’ve known over the years, my hometown of Missoula being one of them. At a certain point such towns go beyond being just cool, and morph into this separate reality of self-awareness and narcissism. Everything is organic and artisan and fair-trade and hand-crafted. Even the light bulbs. Such towns become places where the lifestyle becomes more important than the life. They become places “where young people go to retire.”
Where did this phenomenon come from? My guess would be San Francisco in the late ’60s, but the first city I actually visited that fit the stereotype was Boulder, Colo. That was about 30 years ago — I can only imagine what it’s like now. How about you?