This weird little show - Portlandia - is my latest TV obsession. They mock the hipster like no other. What's not to love. I love a kind mock. And while I love the hipsters I recognize their sometimes unbearable foibles and self-congratulatory/egomaniacal superior-ism.
I was part of a hipster crowd back in the day. Early '90s San Francisco was riddled with the fuckers. It was before the dot com boom made San Francisco impossible to afford for anyone but hedge fund managers and tech dudes from Google/Facebook/name the latest internet behemoth. San Francisco was populated with artists, musicians, non-profiteers and young people who liked to go to a lot of Raves. I made about $900/month at my entry level advertising agency job and was fine. I shared an apartment with other hipster girls (remember Manic Panic hair dye? That was our favorite Saturday night activity pre-Rave) and we had plenty of money for used hipster clothing at the Wasteland and keg beer for parties. I somehow think that would be impossible in today's San Francisco where the young cash challenged hipster has been overrun by what would have been called the Yuppie back in the 90s. Which I guess I qualify as now. From hipster to Yuppie. What a long strange trip it's been. I don't think they're called Yuppies anymore. What do we call them now? David Brooks would call them Bobos as in bourgeois bohemians.
Back to the show. The hipster still thrives in Portland, apparently, where the cost of living has remained reasonable. The show mocks every variety - the overly bearded suspender wearing artisanal cheese maker, the women's bookstore owner (I'm surprised they don't call the store "Womyn's Books") who thinks everything is a phallic offense, the self-satisfied savers of the world and dogs that all the while treats the people right in front of them like shit. Ahhh I love this one. The outfits are perfect here - Teva sandals, Patagonia vests and cargo pants. They should be carrying NPR tote bags. Their voices are always too loud. They have no children but want to tell everyone how to raise theirs. Oh and there are others. The agro bike messenger with a tufted chin beard and those African style ear things that stretch out the lobes, with one pant leg rolled up and one of those funny little cycling caps.
The show is pitch perfect. Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney band) play a host of different annoying Portland hipsters in a collection of vignettes. One of my favorites being about a "hide and seek league" that plays in the library. They have ironic tee-shirts and team names, they wear American Apparel style sweat socks and gym shorts to play this stupid made up game. Oh this could have been a thing at Stanford. An alternative activity for all the Ultimate frisbee players and hackey sackers (though the hackey sackers were more Hippie than Hipster).
The funny part is my 8 year old son loves the show. I don't know why. He can't possibly get all the references. Maybe there is enough obvious humor in it for him to get. Maybe he was born into hipster heaven (there are still some here in SF...just not as many as once upon a time) so it's in his bones to get it. Whatever it is, he likes singing the theme song - "The dream of the 90's is alive in Porland!"- and watching episodes with me repeatedly. He probably tells his friends in school about it. Kids that mostly like watching iCarly and Hannah Montana. That makes him a little weirdo which I love. It means he'll grow up to be an annoying hipster! A far better plight than a boring banker dude.