Quicklet on Portlandia Season 1
Like the hipster movement it ridicules, Portlandia has its roots in the early 1990s - the Grunge Era. After early innovators like Mudhoney and Tad paved the way, the blockbuster triumvirate of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains ruled MTV and college radio for half a decade, with Pearl Jam going on to even greater, and more sustained success. Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater made films that idealized underemployment and post-high-school doldrums. Quentin Tarantino pioneered a schizophrenic, heavily referential style of film that seemed designed to mimic the long, drawn-out, conversations of a group of stoned young film buffs with nothing to do and too big of a videotape collection. Flannel shirts and what Silver Jews frontman David Berman would later describe as "sarcastic hair" were the height of fashion. Every young kid in America since the second World War has probably been called a lazy, good-for-nothing slacker by his or her parents at least once, but in 1993, there was no higher compliment. Everybody was going to be an artist, a comedian, a writer, a filmmaker, an actor, a poet. And in two different grunge havens, separated by half a continent, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein were starting their long journeys toward that dreamed-of success. Given that they both found their most widely celebrated success working together on a sketch comedy series, it is perhaps surprising that they both started out playing in cult favorite indie rock bands.