Is it us, or have the oddballs, weirdoes and assorted dreamers and schemers of Portlandia started to seem a lot more mainstream lately? When the IFC series, masterminded by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, first premiered in 2011, no one could have guessed how omnipresent its world of mustache wax and artisanal knots would become. We laughed at these fringe weirdoes and their weird ways, and then one day we found that our mustache was in need of wax. Nothing would ever be the same.
As we approach the premiere of Portlandia‘s sixth season this Thursday, January 21st at 10P, we are starting to realize that the whole world has basically become a giant Portlandia sketch, and we’re just living in it. The food is good. The bike lanes are bountiful. And everything has a bird on it. (Or at least a bird emoji.) Here are just a few ways that Earth has become Planet Portlandia.
10. Singles Yoga
While aerobics classes may have been the singles bars of the ’80s, and 7-11 parking lots the singles bars of the ’90s, nowadays, if you’re really looking for a place to meet someone and you’re completely over Tinder, you head to your local yoga studio. In-between Pranayama breathing and downward dogging, you might notice that there are a lot of cute, single people writhing around in see through clothing. It’s like a nightclub, but instead of bottle service, there’s pregnancy meditation and cucumber water. Portlandia was one of the first to notice that inner peace might not be the only reason yoga studios find themselves so packed these days. There’s even Singles Speed Yoga, for those of us that are ready to skip the chakra alignment and just cut to the chase already.
9. Bike Lane Anarchy
As Portlandia so memorably pointed out, there have been militant bike riders for as long as there have been bikes. But as cities fight to go more green, and bike lanes become part of the everyday norm, these “cyclopaths” have started to multiply. With their weird clip-on shoes and smug attitudes, they love to tell us how they’re saving the world one bike ride at a time. Less pollution. Less traffic. And the thing that really annoys us is, they’re right. Now there’s even a real life Spike, doing his duty to take a stand against jerkwad cars getting in his bike lane.
Casey Neistat, a New Yorker and popular YouTuber who was ticketed for riding outside the bike lane, actually went to war with the city over cyclist rights. As you’ll see in the video below, Neistat’s assertion that “I’m doing the world a favor” could basically have come from the mind of Fred and Carrie.
8. No Spoilers!
There is perhaps no greater threat to our modern way of life than the spoiler. There you are, minding you’re own business, when BOOM, someone blurts out that Haley Joel Osment sees dead Bruce Willises. (Oh, um, SPOILER ALERT?) You take a step back. Try to regroup. Pretend likes it’s not a big deal. The movie’s supposed to be good. It doesn’t really matter if you know the ending. But deep down, you can feel it. You’re life will never be the same.
Portlandia poked fun at our modern spoiler-averse culture with a perfect season three sketch that runs through spoilers for everything from Game of Thrones to Boy Meets World. But while most of us just go through life in a constant panic, ready to run at the first mention of Making A Murderer, someone out there has been doing the hard work of fixing this problem. That’s how Spoiler Shield came to be. With this iOS and Android app designed to block TV, movie and sport spoilers, you never have to worry about learning anything you don’t want to. Well, unless you leave your house. But why would you do that? You have so many shows to catch up on!
7. Putting Birds On Things
Putting birds on things helped put Portlandia on the map. But it also created a monster. No longer could birds be content to sit in their nests, or on power lines. Now they found themselves everywhere.
On a shop.
On a car.
On human skin.
On LaMarcus Aldridge, former player for the Portlandia Trail Blazers.
Or on, er, um…
You get the point.
6. Artisanal Everything!
Portlandia loves all things artisanal, from light bulbs to movie theater popcorn, but even they would be hard-pressed to come up with what one Brooklyn bodega had to do when faced with an exorbitant rent increase. If you ask your typical hipster about gentrification, they’ll have a long, reasoned, possibly passionate take on the subject that highlights all of its evils, while conveniently leaving out that they live in an overpriced condo their parents outbid a local family of eight for. It’s a complicated issue. Just ask one bodega in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, who, facing a stiff rent increase, decided that pickling the heck out of something might be its last line of defense.
In an effort to raise cash fast, the store began labeling everything they sold as artisanal, and doubling the asking price. $15 for a “slow roasted” Five Hour Energy drink. $21.99 for a “pasture-raised flash-frozen teriyaki bowl.” Or just $24.97 for a one-of-a-kind Dickson’s Farms Condom.
The irony of having to use irony to afford living in a neighborhood overtaken by people who can only communicate through irony is, well, ironic. But, happily, the plan seems to have worked, as Jesse & Co. MarketPlace is still open for business.
5. Babysitters For Grownups
While adult babysitters sound like something you’d find in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist, there’s actually a place to send your wayward spouse if they need a little looking after. Preschool Mastermind is a month long nursery school for grownups.
If you’re over the age of 18, and want to “re-learn the basics and experience the magic of life as it was originally intended,” this might be the place for you. Based, unsurprisingly, in Brooklyn, the school charges anywhere from $333 and $999 to help you get in touch with your inner child by playing games, conducting show-and-tell and having naptime. There’s also field trips and a class picture day. Although, were assuming every day is Instagram Day at this school.
4. Binge Watching
We all remember when Fred and Carrie sunk into a Battlestar Galactica K-hole, forfeiting a functional life in a desperate attempt to find out who the Final Five Cylons really were. Since that episode aired in 2012, binge-watching has gone from a funny novelty to a cultural tidal wave. Like a fever dream, you start an episode of Jessica Jones or Todd Margaret and wake up in your own filth ten hours later, filled with regret and frozen pizza.
While Fred and Carrie may have been the first to point out our obsessive new way of watching TV, it didn’t take long for the world at large to catch-up. Collin’s Dictionary even named binge-watching the 2015 Word of the Year. We’re just impressed they got around to naming anything, considering they haven’t even watched Better Call Saul yet.
3. Kiddie Music Snobs
Portlandia loves to dissect the disturbing degrees to which parents involve themselves in their children’s lives. Whether it’s helping them collect signatures for an important cause, or getting them accepted in a preschool at any cost, Fred and Carrie have always had an eye on the competitive parenting culture we now live in. That was certainly true with their Shooting Star Preschool sketch, in which a parent/teacher meeting turns into a music snob-off. But honestly, should a woman who doesn’t know anything about Krautrock or Neu! really be teaching your kids?
The thing is, these Pitchfork-worshiping parents aren’t that far off from the truth. There’s a whole genre of music called Kindie Rock for the discerning parent who wants their kids to sport some serious musical opinions. Full of moody rockers, hot licks and mosh pits for kids, the only difference between Kindie and their Indie Rock big brother is that their songs are more about riding the bus to school, and less about casual sex and existential dread.
Two time Grammy Nominee Justin Roberts, who got his start in the cult band Pimentos for Gus, is one of the best of the batch, creating catchy hooks and clever lyrics that sound like pop/rock hits, but with the twist that they’re geared towards the 8-and-under crowd. Let’s be honest: Barney is for babies. You aren’t a baby, are you?
2. Dumpster Diving For Profit
Dumpster diving used to be, at best, a sort of weirdo activity that one guy from high school did to help pay for his heroin habit. But like nearly everything else in our society, dumpster diving has been monetized.
Matt Malone calls himself a professional dumpster diver. While he makes a six figure salary as a security consultant in Texas, he claims that his dumpster dives earn him even more money. Most days, on the way home from work, he’ll swing by a local mall, dig through the trash, and often pull out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars worth of discarded technology. He claims that, if he did this full time, he could earn as much as $250,000 a year.
While Fred and Carrie may have found the dirty hippies who scavenged for old watermelons and stained baby dolls, Malone has other ideas when it comes to our garbage. Maybe it’s time we wise up, and stop throwing this stuff away.
1. Canoe Dancing
And then there are things that are just too ridiculous to exist in real life…
Alright, never mind. It’s a Portlandia world, and we’re all just living in it.