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When Judi Dench swears, people cry.

When Judi Dench swears, people cry. (photo)

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Here in the U.S., Judi Dench is gazed at with the same gauzy reverence given to all British actors with crisp enunciation, but in the UK she’s a bona fide cultural treasure (she was once voted second only to the queen as the most-liked and respected Brit in a poll). Which is what makes the long, prickly profile of her by Kira Cochrane in the Guardian so great. For one, she doesn’t care for the designation: “That sounds pretty dusty to me. It’s [playwright] Alan Bennett and I behind glass in some forgotten old cupboard. I don’t like it at all.”

I suppose the closest America has to the actor-as-cultural-institution is someone like Jack Nicholson, but he doesn’t come close to the remarkable ubiquity Dench has in her home country. She credits it to Harvey Weinstein and television: Weinstein for taking “Mrs. Brown” from BBC TV movie to unlikely star vehicle (“Harvey’s name [is] tattooed on my bum,” she claims) and veteran sitcoms like “As Time Goes By” for keeping her in “in people’s sitting rooms a lot,” where her beatific, unthreatening glow can thrive in perpetuity. So saintly is her perception, in fact, that the BBFC (the UK’s MPAA) reported that every film she swears in generates complaints, something that makes her wonder if she’s failed as an actress: “Can’t they for a minute think that I am playing another person, in another world, with another personality? Must they write and complain that it came out of my mouth?’ I was very depressed about it.”

There are more memorable quotes — in response to Ian McKellen’s suggestion that audiences fall in love with her no matter the role she plays, Dench sasy “Crap! Crap. He’s talking through a hole in his arse” — though in particularly British fashion, the profile gets uncomfortably invasive, with Cochrane asking Dench, whose husband of 30 years, Michael Williams, died in 2001, if she is sometimes lonely. It’s hard to imagine any American as comparatively famous who’d put up with such a question, which makes the articles just as much a cultural lesson in how even the most venerable British people have to put up with some kind of ritual humiliation.

[Photo: Judi Dench in “Rage,” Adventure Pictures, 2008]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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