‘Portlandia’ Could Be an Adjective To Describe Something That Was Awkward, Carrie Brownstein Shares
The IFC sketch comedy spoofed hipster life in Portland, Oregon bringing terms like “artisanal” to the forefront. Brownstein and comedian Fred Armisen created and starred in the cult hit series, which ran from 2011 until 2018.
While Brownstein is glad the show went out on a high note, she admittedly misses writing the series, especially amid a time of surreal turmoil. “I miss the absurdist lens through which to process phenomena and just the world,” she said on the Life is Short with Justin Long podcast.
“And I think now more than ever, or I mean, I think [the show] functioned in the same way then but sometimes, things feel so outrageous, that absurdity or surrealism are the only ways to make sense of it,” she continued. “Because coming at it straight on is impossible because it feels like such a Bizarro World, especially with Trump and everything. So, yeah, I miss that a little bit. And just dissecting the minutiae of things was fun.”
‘Portlandia’ could be an adjective
Brownstein added that the series almost became a describer for anything awkward. “I think the way we dissected those very small human blunders or interactions did become, I mean, for a while, Portlandia was this adjective that people used when they were trying to describe something that was awkward,” she said.
Adding that a situation that could start out as grounded,”felt very insane, which almost any interaction can be.”
Brownstein also addressed how the show explored race. “One thing that I like about Portlandia, I guess, is that it never took whiteness as a default. It actually was a show that really explored, I think. It didn’t take the category of white people as like, ‘Well, this is the norm.’ It was like, there is some really weird sh*t here to figure out. And I think part of that was because Fred is not white. And I’m coming at it as I am white, but I’m queer.”
Lance came from Brownstein’s ‘broken versions of masculinity’
Armisen and Brownstein played a slew of characters on the series, including breakout characters Lance and Nina. Brownstein took on Lance, while Armisen transformed into Nina. Brownstein told Rolling Stone Lance was one of her favorite characters to play on the series.
“There’s just things we do as women to behave as women, like crossing your legs … you just feel like you need to take up less space in the room,” she said. “When I played Lance, I realized that I felt an inherent right to take up space in a room. That freedom, that practicing of confidence and of unapologetic personhood … I will miss that, even though his version of masculinity isn’t what I would say is evolved. But it was interesting to explore.”
Brownstein told with host Justin Long she isn’t quite sure where the characters are based. “So, Nina and Lance, I’m not sure who specifically they were based on,” she admits. “But I think for me playing Lance, I was just drawing from my own heightened versions of, and probably broken versions of masculinity. And I’m not sure about Fred but yeah, it was often, we would just think of our most beloved friends and just try to explore them through humor.”