Monday, January 30, 2012

Portlandia, season one (2011)

Gawd was this awful.  When a friend first sent us the youtube of the opening sketch (the "Dream of the '90s" bit), we thought it was great.  Portland really does feel like the '90s never ended.

But that's all the series had to offer.  Maybe two or three other sketches, out of the six episodes, had anything sharp or witty to say about Portland;  most of the rest weren't talking about Portland at all, but about the kind of yuppie you can find anywhere in the country.

So, okay, maybe there's isn't enough Portland-specific comedy to fuel a show.  Fair enough.  And one or two of the general-yuppie bits were okay.  But mostly, this was a crashingly unfunny show. 

And more than that, it was unfunny in a particular way that I long ago learned to loathe.  It's that particularly unctuous, odious Saturday Night Live brand of unfunny.  No surprise, considering Lorne Michaels bankrolled it and Fred Armisen stars in it.

What is the SNL brand of unfunny?  Taking a single gag and working it to death, repeating it endlessly in hopes of making it a new national catch phrase.  Cruel, smug humor.  Mistaking coked-up fratboy snark for wit.  Creating broad straw-man stereotypes and congratulating yourself on your trenchant social satire.  Congratulating yourself.  Having only two-thirds the material you need to fill your show.  Substituting uninspired improv for careful writing.  Misusing guest stars.  Thinking you're too cool to have to make an effort.

I mean, making fun of feminist bookstores?  In 2011?  Is that all you've got?

No, I guess it's not.  I guess you've also got "let's make fun of Japanese people because they talk funny and dress funny!"  Complete with Oriental gong.

Fuck me, this is a horrible show.

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