Every once in awhile, I come across a show that is a slow burn for me. I may see a clip, hear an anecdote about an episode, laugh for a bit, and then move on. As far as tv goes, I’ll watch an episode of just about any show. In some cases, I’ll watch the entire series of a show that I’m not even close to being passionate about (what’s up, My Name is Earl?). But in some rare occasions, like Mr. Show and Arrested Development, I begin to develop an almost unhealthy relationship with a television work. Right now, that current obsession is squarely focused on Portlandia.
There are several stages that I have managed to identify with this type of behavior. The initial phase is the curiosity (or flirtatious) stage. I get sucked in by a YouTube clip, or hear from a reliable source, or see a piece of marketing that resonates. If these inputs make the synapses fire in agreeable sequence, it’s on to the next round. For me, it was when Peter and Nancy (Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein) are at The Gilt Club and are presented a dossier detailing the life of their free-range organic chicken up until the point of their meal (in Episode 1, Season 1).
The second stage could be considered the first date with a show. By it’s very nature, it’s an awkward and exciting way to see how someone’s mind operates. What are their values? What are their dreams? What makes them laugh? Please God, let this one be without a laugh track. If the whole encounter sucks, at least you’ve gained a greater understanding of yourself, and what you don’t want out of life (and mind-candy entertainment). Instead, you’ve given me a way to laugh like hell at dumpster-diving for tiny sweaters.
But maybe there is a spark- a connection that can’t be ignored. We increasingly spend time with one another. Each episode flashes by, like racing past busy storefronts during shopping season. The laughter spills out naturally and uninhibited, surprising even me. Oh Portlandia, you have such devilishly clever ways.
This is the point when we should part ways. We’ve spent the reasonable amount of time together. It is obviously diminishing returns from this point onward. But you’re in my head, Portlandia. I begin to watch each episode not only to laugh, but also to figure out why I laugh. This tedious deconstruction is not the way you intended this relationship to exist, Portlandia, but it’s inevitable when something captivates and fascinates me. Where does this leave us? Wanting more, and me biding my time until Season Two.
In case the language of this post unintentionally leads to metaphor, I just want to make one thing abundantly clear: I love you, Portlandia. Let’s grow old together.
Portlandia Intro Locations:
Portlandia Episode 1, Season 1 Locations:
Portlandia Episode 2, Season 1 Locations:
Portlandia Episode 3, Season 1 Locations:
Portlandia Episode 4, Season 1 Locations:
Portlandia Episode 5, Season 1 Locations:
Portlandia Episode 6, Season 1 Locations:
Here are some locations from season 2.