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"Portland is where young people go to retire."
Jason from L.A.

Portlandia is a sketch comedy show on IFC starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. It is set in Portland, Oregon and most of its humor comes from mocking its hipster culture. Armisen is a current cast member on Saturday Night Live and Brownstein is a writer and the former singer and guitarist for Alternative Rock band Sleater Kinney (she's currently a member of Wild Flag).

Tropes used in Portlandia include:
  • As Herself: Aimee Mann plays herself as a down-on-her-luck maid, claiming she has to because the music industry is down.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible:
    • Women and Women First. The shopkeepers refuse to remove books from shelves for customers, are against alphabetizing the books on the shelves, and so on.
    • A man calls the DMV to ask for a replacement title on his car. The operator tells him that he'll have to be transfered; when the operator finds out that the transfer won't be back in for another hour, he tells the caller that it'll only be a moment. The caller eventually gets a letter in the mail that no, they can't replace his title.
  • Big Beautiful Man: The guy Carrie dates while discussing the Portland theme song in episode 2.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Japanese captions in "Aimee".
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: The show's theme is basically Portland's Bourgeois Bohemian population.
  • Call Back: Expect characters and items from one sketch to randomly show up in another.
  • The Cameo: Quite a few, including:
    • Steve Buscemi, of all people, is a hapless customer in the "Women & Women First" bookstore.
    • Also, James Callis and Edward James Olmos (not to mention Ronald D. Moore) in the Battlestar Galactica Episode.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Keep Portland Weird indeed.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Mayor of Portland, which isn't surprising given his constituency. Examples include sitting on an exercise ball instead of an office chair, drawing a dog on a Post-It instead of actually taking notes in a meeting, and lending out framed pieces of Native American art. He also clearly carries a grudge against Seattle for overshadowing Portland's Bourgeois Bohemian culture.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Aubrey Plaza walks into Women and Women First in booty shorts, Carrie, offended, asks what happened to her pants. "They're frayed."
    • Again at Women and Women First, Carrie asks an author about how you're supposed to print and distribute a book, then wonders aloud what Hemingway did. The author's answer? "He killed himself."
    • Also, when they mean "print and distribute a book," they don't mean "get published." They mean physically printing a book from a printer
  • Cute Kitten: Indie band the Nap change their name to Cat Nap and add their cat, Kevin, to play a scratch post. They suddenly experience runaway success.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The mayor of Portland is revealed to secretly be in a reggae band. The press conference on this played out like a sex scandal.
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Played with: Carrie dates a man with Eddie Vedder's face tattooed on his left arm; however, she's the one who can't stand it, to the point of hallucinating the tattoo as it talks and sings to her. In the end, it's a deal breaker.
  • The Fun in Funeral: Carrie visits the grave of a man she just committed manslaughter against and dances around singing to Fred over the phone.
  • The Gay Nineties: "Cops Redesign" opens with a redux of "The Dream of the '90s", except, know. Carrie mistakenly dresses in a red slip and does the Charleston.
  • Granola Girl: Carrie (and Fred, sometimes) plays one every now and again.
  • Happy Place: Sparkle Pony tunes out when meanies are talking, and goes to a magical forest where she wears pretty clothes and pets... a pony.
  • Here We Go Again: Twice in "One Moore Episode":
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: If you know indie rock luminaries at all, quite a few of them turn up as guest stars.
  • Hipster
  • Hypocritical Humor: The couple mentioned below in "What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?" tied their child to a pole down the street.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: "Okay, this guy's got a really weird neck. Don't say anything about it, but compliment it. Ooh, you have a neck like a movie star!"
  • Larynx Dissonance: Occasionally Fred and/or Carrie's voices are pitched for a role.
  • Leitmotif: Women and Women First sketches always open with a flute melody.
  • Lethal Chef: A couple in "Aimee" dumpster dive...for food.
  • Loony Fan: Gathy (Kristen Wiig), a fan of CatNap, who is terrified of bands she likes getting famous and "leaving" her. They eventually deal with her by incorporating her into the band and changing the name of the band to "Catnapped"
  • Medium Blending: "Cops Redesign" features a shift to stop motion for a sketch about rats in a supermarket.
  • Meganekko: "All the hot girls wear glasses yeaahhhhhhh!"
  • Name's the Same: After becoming obsessed with Battlestar Galactica, Fred and Carrie seek out series creator Ronald D. Moore... by looking through the phone book and looking for his name. They seem nonplussed by the fact that the Moore they find is a lower-middle-class elderly black man who they have to explain Galactica to in order to convince him to write more scripts for the series.
    • The real Moore shows up later in the skit, playing a local actor hired for a table reading of the script. The character has never heard of Battlestar Galactica.
  • The Nineties: As the opening song notes, Portland is where the "Dream of the '90s" is still alive" as a reality.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The giant box that previously contained a very small sex toy.
  • The Other Rainforest
  • Overly Long Gag: "Sacajawea...Sacajawea...Sacajawea..."
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The city recently won the award for "Best Official Website for cities with populations under 700,000 in the Pacific Northwest area". Especially since there are no cities that big in the northwestern U.S.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: A very frequent joke.
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Often.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Feel It All Around" by Washed Out.
  • Rhyming with Itself: Fred rhymes "right" with "right" in "A Song for Portland".
  • Running Gag: Birds on things.
  • Safe Word: Cacao. Gets abused until female!Fred texts it to male!Carrie despite the two not even being in the same place at the time.
  • Sanity Slippage: Carrie as she watches The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
  • Shout-Out:
    • During the "Over" sketch, one of the albums visible in the record store is Sleater Kinney's Dig Me Out.
    • "One Moore Episode" has a plot about Fred and Carrie watching Battlestar Galactica and trying to get more episodes written.
    • There's a send-up of Porky Pig's "That's All, Folks!" in "One Moore Episode".
    • Also in "One Moore Episode", Carrie watches The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and experiences Sanity Slippage as the camera angle tilts and the visual goes black-and-white.
  • Shown Their Work: The show gets all the stereotypes right, down to neighborhoods and individual streets.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Stop Copying Me: The stripper sketch in "Aimee".
  • Straw Feminist: The owners of "Women and Women First". One has problems with pointing because "every time she sees it, she sees a penis."
  • Take That Me: Carrie Brownstein isn't shy about poking fun at her indie rock roots.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Inverted in that Fred and Carrie are terrible interviewers, but all the baseball team member candidates seem adequate enough.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?:
    • Lots of examples, most notably the Portland Adult Hide-and-Seek League, and the man who "truly won", because he's been hiding since 1979.
    • In "One Moore Episode", where there's tons of pumping music for, among other things, Ronald D. Moore's wife coming home.
    • "Cool Wedding" features Carrie dropping her iPhone in slow motion with a Really Dead Montage.
    • Later on in "Cool Wedding", Carrie puts off watching The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as sped-up sunsets with a Drone of Dread denote the passing days.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?:
    • A couple totally loses their shit over someone tying their dog up outside a restaurant in "A Song for Portland".
    • Jack McBrayer gets grilled by a cashier and manager for not bringing a reusable bag to a grocery store.
  • You Look Familiar: Fred and Carrie and other actors play multiple characters. The former often encounter the same people, implying that they all exist in a shared world full of Freds and Carries.
    • This is confirmed in the season two finale, where among other things one set body surfs across a line containing another set.
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