Last year, “Portlandia” won a Peabody Award for being “a funhouse mirror reflection of Portland, Oregon, a city that takes its progressivism — and its diet — very seriously.” This past February the show won the Writers Guild Award in the Comedy/Variety category. The show has pulled in some big names for cameo roles, including Jeff Goldblum, Roseanne Barr, Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny and George Wendt.
Portlanders for the most part seem good-humored about the show, laughing at the caricatures of themselves and welcoming the attention. Tourists come to Portland to see local landmarks on the show. “Portlandia” walking and cycling tours have sprung up.
“Portlandia” put a number of locals in the show, including then-Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who played assistant to MacLachlan’s fake Portland mayor.
“‘Portlandia’ has been worth millions in free advertising for Portland,” Adams told the AP. “It is a loving spoof that has also allowed us to laugh at ourselves and allows others to do the same.”
You hear grumbling among some locals about Portland being stereotyped, and about the stereotype being beaten to death. Still, locals will admit Portland is ripe for satire. If you go to a Portland potluck party, don’t be surprised if nearly everyone brings a kale salad. And try not to get embarrassed if a group of nude cyclists zips past your car in broad daylight. And yes, Portland does have a vegan strip club, and another club where strippers do their thing while customers sing karaoke.
“Portlandia” was born from an earlier creative adventure written by and starring Armisen and Brownstein — an Internet video series under the name ThunderAnt.
“It took those videos to realize we were portraying a certain kind of person,” people with a “stunted maturity ... who are flummoxed by the ever-changing rules of progressivism,” Brownstein said.