Monday, March 10, 2014

Let's Take a Trip to Portlandia

Everyone grab your Advisory-Board-approved cashew milk! Portlandia is back!

Portlandia airs on Thursdays at 10PM on IFC.
The February 27th premiere started the season off right with sketches that hit the comedy sweet spot between the absurd and the mundane that the series does so well. Setting the tone for first time viewers and long time fans alike, the opening sequence featured Fred and Carrie as a ghost couple, haunting a house sitter (Kirsten Dunst) by giving her conflicting health advice and citing vague articles that they "just read". We also got the return of our favorite Battlestar Gallactica marathoners, Doug and Claire, who have recently decided to open a joint bank account, leading to a pool-sized hot tub purchase and excellent guest work from SNL's Vanessa Bayer. In my favorite sketch of the night, Fred gets grilled by "date fact checker" Kumail Nanjiani, who is beyond perfect every time he shows up in the Portlandia universe. Fred lies about everything from knowing TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe to having a "pretty messed up childhood" which a call from his mother quickly confirms to be false. The best part is that his deposition ends with him receiving a score "just above Sex Grifter" which is apparently good enough to warrant a second date!

Spending time in this world again and re-visiting these characters brought me so much joy, I have to give this season opener high marks even if the night's sketches seemed to tread over familiar ground at times. I'm not worried though - Fred and Carrie are two of the most creative people in the business, and there's still a ton of comedy to mine out of our favorite Portland residents. Now give me some Candace and Toni, ASAP!

Here are a few of my favorite things:

- In what may be the best unused Onion headline ever, we learn the ghosts' fate from the cover of Portland Weekly: "Couple Dies of Confusion: Husband and Wife Die After Not Knowing Which Things Are Good Or Bad For Them".

- Fred also lied to his date about not liking Juno, but his true feelings on it can be found on his MySpace page, last updated in 2007.

- The Milk Advisory Board commercials have been replaced by ads for the Portland Pet Haven. I'll miss Royce and Alicia (he's her boss), but I'm looking forward to learning more about James and Trish.

- The whole weird robot-product-placement-love-story was hilarious. I assume Sandra got "Kermit the Bag" on Etsy, but so far my search has yielded only vaguely similar results...

If you haven't jumped into the world of Portlandia yet, just watch five of my all-time favorite sketches below. You'll be pickling, biking, and eating local with Fred and Carrie before you know it!

"Around The World In 80 Plates"

"House Sitter"

"She's Making Jewelry Now"


"Allergy Pride Parade"

Are you hooked yet? Get your binge on with Seasons 1-3 available on Netflix and the most recent episode currently streaming on

SHAMELESS RECAP: Season 4, Episode 8: "Hope Springs Paternal"

Phew. Where to begin? After Liam's coke accident, Fiona is going stir crazy on house arrest, trying to prove to her probation officer (and Lip) that she's still fit to be a parent. Lip is attempting to be both a college student and a guardian for the kids, while Ian returns to the Gallaghers (and an increasingly lovesick Mickey) with a new, potentially drug-feuled, outlook on life. Meanwhile, Debbie begins to bond with her new older sister, Sammy, after "becoming a woman" and Carl has been suspended after beating up the kids who made fun of Liam on the bus...and then some others, just for good measure. Frank and Sammy are currently squatting at Sheila's (and conning people into putting cash deposits down on her house) and Carol decided to keep her baby (who else saw that coming?), so it looks like Kev and V are down to just two more mouths to feed. If you're like me, you were reduced to a puddle of tears at the end of the episode when Lip finally forgives Fiona for her mistake after a gut-wrenching phone call. Add that killer performance to the ERER (Emmy Rossum Emmy Reel) and file this one under "M" for "Macaroni Salad Sandwiches". I shudder at the thought.

NEXT WEEK: I take a deep dive into NBC's Parenthood, which recently returned from it's midseason hiatus! We'll talk tears, Ray Romano, Braverman family dynamics, and why it's consistently one of the best shows on TV. But don't take my word for it - tune in this Thursday at 10PM (you can tape Scandal just this once) to see for yourself!

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