On January 21, 2011, the series premiere of a new IFC sketch comedy series called Portlandia opened with co-creators Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen exclaiming “the dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland” while surrounded by hipster types. Seven seasons, two Emmys, and one Peabody later, the brainchild of the Sleater-Kinney band member and the Saturday Night Live alum is coming to an end. The eighth and final season of Portlandia premieres this Thursday at 10 pm ET/PT, and judging by what Brownstein and Armisen told Uproxx, it sounds like business as usual for the team.
Except, of course, when it’s not. Between recent pushback from local businesses, the end of Barack Obama’s presidency, and the Oregon wildfires that were raging nearby during our visit, everything seemed far from “usual.” All of this weighed heavily on the minds of the Portlandia team members, just as the ashes from the fires weighed down foliage and traffic lights. Yet despite what Brownstein called the atmosphere’s “underpinning of doom,” she and Armisen agreed that Portlandia had been a wonderful thing for everyone involved and that audiences wouldn’t be disappointed with its final season.
How has the city of Portland changed, in terms of what inspired you over the past seven seasons?
Fred Armisen: It’s changed a lot. As the show has gone on, it feels a little bit like it’s been less about the city specifically and more about the characters getting to know each other. As the years went on, it became a little more internal, more about relationships. Portland served as the framework for the show in the beginning. I mean, it still is. You might see it on screen, and things might look a little different — some new condos here and there.
Carrie Brownstein: Everyone is dead and pregnant. No, but seriously, one nice thing about sketch comedy is that you don’t necessarily need… Like, the expectation isn’t the same as it was for, say, The Sopranos, Girls, Six Feet Under or anything else like that. But we did take it into consideration. We do have one episode that, I think, is a summation of everything that has some sentimentality to it. Though we didn’t want anything that would feel too on the nose.
Armisen: It should still be a show that you can watch any season of, whenever you want, interchangeably.
Has this show changed your relationship with this city?
Armisen: It has intensified it. I mean, we’re in people’s homes. When I first came here, I never knew what it was. I was like, “What is this?” “This is Northeast.” I didn’t know what that meant at first, but now I recognize it. I know what part of town I’m in when I’m in it.