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The Duchess of York on “The Young Victoria.”

The Duchess of York on “The Young Victoria.” (photo)

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Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, a famous toe-suckee, a one time confidante to Princess Diana, a Weight Watchers spokesperson, Britain’s traditional punching bag and, now, a movie producer — and she’s out on the circuit doing press for “The Young Victoria,” her first venture into film production.

Americans are suckers for British accents and aristocracy, so regardless of any accompanying infamy, it was inevitable the Duchess would show up and give good copy to promote the release, this Friday, of the year’s seemingly mandatory entry in the Boring Awards-Season Movie About British Royalty genre. (Last year, hilariously, it was literally “The Duchess” with Keira Knightley; two years before that, it was “The Queen.”)

And the Duchess has been getting softballed by everyone from New York‘s “46 Minutes” to New York Times ex-restaurant critic Frank Bruni. In every interview — all of which devote at least half of their length to discussing Fergie rather than the movie she’s ostensibly promoting — she alludes to being “misunderstood,” or how the British press was cruel to her, or so on. The American profiles tend to leave it at that, erring on the side of discretion.

When the film came out in the UK earlier this year, it seems Ferguson’s involvement was viewed as a demerit rather than an asset, and interviews with her were far less extensive. Hating the Duchess is a national UK pastime, perhaps exacerbated by her twin reality shows “The Duchess in Hull” and “The Duchess on the Estate,” in which she shows up and harangues, respectively, the obese and the poor, all while moaning about herself.

12152009_duchessinhull.jpg“Every single minute of the day I think I’m fat, ugly, disgusting, unworthy and nobody likes me. I’ve had 15 years of defamation of character,” she begins the former show by saying, before informing the fat family — who didn’t know who she was — “You’ve heard of the Queen of England, have you? The Queen was my mother-in-law.” And her obsession with her bad press seems only to be adding fuel to the fire, as when she showed up at her daughter’s college, working into her speech the tabloid poll tidbit that 82% of the nation would rather sleep with a goat than her.

But let no one say that she doesn’t understand her American audience. It’s highly unlikely that viewers will show up for “The Young Victoria” solely on the strength of a royal connection, no matter how much Ferguson claims spiritual kinship by explaining she wanted to make a movie about a woman who “fought for her marriage” like she should have done. Similarly, it’s impossible she raised $35 million on the strength of her tabloid background and the parallels.

But her unselfconscious sense of constantly reiterated hurt and willingness to discuss her peak of fame for an audience that hasn’t learned to hate her like they do at home is smart marketing for a movie that (c’mon) has little chance of making an American killing. Better yet, it allows her to martyr herself in a way that plays to the bathetic strengths of American celebrity journalism.

Regardless of how “The Young Victoria” does, this has to be the most satisfying press tour Ferguson’s done in years: a prestige-y movie to talk up and parallels to Queen Victoria. Never mind that the Victorian era is not generally considered a golden age these days. An icon is an icon.

[Photos: “The Young Victoria,” Apparition, 2009; “The Duchess in Hull,” from Ken McKay, ITV, 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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