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Portlandia Presents Spot-On Sketch Comedy

By Jac Kern · January 25th, 2012 · Television
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Lake Superior State University recently released its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. Annoying terms such as “baby bump,” “man cave” and the worn-out “amazing” made the list. Now, I can’t argue with the retiring of these words, but I’d like to add one to the list — hipster. The term has been around since the 1940s, referring to lovers of Jazz music who often dressed differently, adopted a more laid-back lifestyle and occasionally smoked a little weed. OK, so the same could be true about the modern day hipster, but today’s use of the term has gotten so broad, nearly any human could portray one or more characteristics of hipsterdom. For example, hipsters are known for their affinity towards PBR, one of the cheapest of all beers. However, having knowledge of craft beers and home-brewing is also arguably a very hip hobby.

So, when people describe Portlandia (10 p.m. Friday, IFC) as a spoof on hipsters, they aren’t completely wrong, but there is much more to the show than coffee shop skits. Starring SNL’s Fred Armisen and Rock guitarist Carrie Brownstein (formerly of Sleater-Kinney, currently of Wild Flag), Portlandia pokes fun while paying tribute to the elitist sectors within counter-culture. Sure, it takes place in Oregon, but the hilarious characters portrayed are relatable to anyone. The Artisan Knot Shop (owned by a gut-busting Jeff Goldblum) could easily be located in Northside. And who hasn’t lost a friend to a Battlestar Galactica marathon?

In this week’s episode, Michelle and Brendan go to great lengths to get their son into a prestigious preschool. I dare you to tell me you don’t know a real couple like that (CPS magnet schools, anyone?)

There’s much more in store for TV people this week.

Take a look:


Top Chef: Texas (10 p.m., Bravo) - Iron Chef Cat Cora guest judges as the contestants compete in a block party-style cook-off. Drinking game suggestion: Sip on your cocktail whenever you hear the phrase “throwing someone under the bus.” (This can be applied to any competition reality show.)


30 Rock (8 and 9 p.m., NBC) - Tracy fights for the rights of idiots around the world; Kenneth feels under-appreciated.

Parks and Recreation (8:30 p.m., NBC) - If you didn’t get enough Rob Lowe last week as he portrayed Drew “I’m untouchable, bitch” Peterson in the epic Lifetime movie, watch him and the rest of the Pawnee crew compete to raise money for Leslie’s campaign.

Archer (10 p.m., FX) - In an act feared by CityBeat employees company-wide, Malory requires all ISIS members to submit to drug tests.


Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (OnDemand starting Friday) - Tim and Eric are coming to the big screen March 2, but fancy cable owners can get in on the action this week! Though understandably impossible to describe in one sentence, the film follows Tim and Eric’s attempt to renovate a shopping mall in order to repay the $1 billion they borrowed to make a film that never materialized. Favorite guests like John C. Reilly and Zach Galifianakis reprise their roles. The duo recently premiered the movie at Sundance Film Festival (Spoiler Alert: It didn’t cost $1 billion).

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (10:30 p.m., IFC) - Facing a mental breakdown, Todd drowns his sorrows at a local pub, only to get involved in a bachelorette party.


Screen Actors Guild Awards (8 p.m., TNT and TBS) - Low-budge and kind of masturbatory, this awards show is a celebration of actors in television and film, by actors in television in film. Watch the 18th Annual SAG Awards while participating in our 1-year live chat anniversary. Share in some celebrity gossip, vote in interactive polls and voice your opinion in educated discourse. Or something. Check out the chat here. 

Luck (9 p.m., HBO) - Director Michael Mann and Deadwood creator David Milch present a “provocative look at the world of horse racing” in this series premiere. Dustin Hoffman stars as Ace, a gambling guru with a score to settle.

Shameless (9 p.m., Showtime) - After Fiona’s less-than-romantic tryst with Craig in the back of his minivan, she must deal with the fallout (Craig’s pissed off wife). I’m still in shock from Steve’s green-screen BJ scene.

Angry Boys - Daniel, Nathan and Company take a hiatus this week, returning at 10 p.m. Feb. 5 on HBO2.



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