Finally someone has had the sense to make a show about Portland.
Finally someone has had the sense to make a show about Portland. All too often I’ll be riding the MAX and in the middle of witnessing a man painted solid Smurf-blue having an argument with a Greenpeace canvasser about unspoken turf rules, and it comes to mind that someone should be filming this stuff. In the short time that I have lived in this city, I’ve witnessed so many bizarre and pleasingly awkward moments that the only thing keeping my life from being the newest sitcom was a canned laughter.
However, as much as I am personally looking forward to “Portlandia,” it’s not without a short list of concerns.
The true potential for popularity of this show has yet to be determined. So far, it’s received a lot of praise in everything from The Oregonian to The New York Times. Surely the premier episode will be tuned into by far more than just Northwest dwellers. As is becomes more well known, so will the eccentric charm and oddities of Portland itself. Are we dooming our city to be flooded with every single Urban Outfitters-loving, Animal Collective-listening, free-trade coffee enthusiast this side of the Mississippi? Sure, many of us indulge in all those things too, sometimes simultaneously, but we found this city all by ourselves.
Maybe I speak bitterly because I’ve seen a city eaten alive by a TV show before. Not too long ago, in a state called California (or as I like to refer to it, Oregon’s long underwear) I escaped from an awful little chunk of the Los Angeles Valley known as Calabasas. In its heyday, Calabasas was simply known as one of the many obnoxiously affluent pockets surrounding downtown. Ever-present with a handful of celebrity residents, most of whom preferred to keep to themselves. Until a haunting day, when a certain family moved into one of the McMansions nestled in the lush hills of a gated community. The Kardashians had arrived, implants and injections in toe. The invasion was slow at first, but as their mindless program gained momentum, Calabasas deteriorated into a town thick with paparazzi and shrieking tween fan girls.
Fortunately, just by the nature of the show “Portlandia,” and the overwhelming support it has already received from our fine city, I don’t think we are really in store for destruction. Besides, Fred Armisen is entirely less frightening then any of the Kardashians and the TMZ train wreck that tends to follow them. Even our swell Mayor Sam Adams agreed to play a cameo in the pilot episode. As appealing as our city may become to 20-somethings across the nation, it is only being broadcast on the specialty channel IFC, and likely won’t reach quite as many hipster hopefuls.
However, even if the show does not encourage hordes of flannel and skinny-jean clad kids to make the journey here, it may bring in people from the film and television industry. The producers of “Portlandia” have been openly boasting how genial and pleasant our city and its people have been to work with.
The television show Leverage on TNT has filmed in Portland for two seasons now, and will soon be coming back to film another. Who knows, maybe the WB’s “Life Unexpected” will bring their production down here from Vancouver, B.C. The show is set in Portland, after all, and drops a number of local references from Voodoo Doughnuts to Nob Hill.
While we should take pride in the recognition of how incredibly easygoing and helpful we come across, it’s possibly just a matter of time before shows start heading to our corner of the Northwest to shoot. This could mean more jobs for industry-involved locals, but it also means that more and more of the kitsch secrets and quirks of Portland will become a well known part of the public eye, and by default, less kitschy and quirky.
Only time can tell how this exposure will effect Portland, so until it does, I suppose it’s time to jump on the positive bandwagon, and saddle up a beanbag chair with a big bowl of kale and tempeh on Jan. 21 to catch the premier of “Portlandia.”