10 Things ‘Portlandia’ Has Totally Ruined


Don’t get us wrong: Portlandia is one of our favorite TV shows, providing the artisanal-everything set with a much-needed dose of lighthearted satire. But over the course of the past three seasons, we’ve noticed that it isn’t just critiquing the lives of young, hip urbanites — it’s changing them, too, by shaming us out of our most hypocritical and cliché tendencies. In celebration of tonight’s Season 3 finale, we offer a list of everything Portlandia has ruined so far.


Whether after a hard week at work or a long night of partying, there’s nothing more refreshing than brunch. You throw on some sunglasses, order up a Bloody Mary, smother your sleepiness in eggs and bacon, and settle in for a leisurely few hours of food and conversation. Except that now, thanks to Portlandia, all you can think of when there’s even a tiny wait for a table is that hellacious line of brunch hopefuls snaking around the entire city of Portland — and it makes you feel foolish.

TV Show Marathons

Earlier in the same year Portlandia took aim at brunch, Season 2, Fred and Carrie came for yet another of our greatest comforts: the TV binge. Seeing ourselves reflected in these poor schlubs who sacrificed their social lives, work, and health because they couldn’t quit watching Battlestar Galactica, we vowed to never again watch more than three episodes of a show in one sititng.


Ah, cacao: the most beloved word of chocoholics the world over. Too bad Portlandia‘s Lance and Nina, in choosing “cacao” as their safe word, made it synonymous with raunchy, awkward sex. Now we can’t pick up a high-end chocolate bar without thinking of those two in bed — just try and maintain your appetite after that visual.

Fancy Cocktails

Not that the word “mixologist” hasn’t always seemed faintly ridiculous, seemingly elevating cocktail-mixing to the realm of PhD-level science, but who wouldn’t swoon for a hand-crafted drink in the days before Portlandia? These days, sipping anything that includes foamy egg whites just reminds us we’re living a cliché.

Hip Hotels

The standard American motel is nothing to write home about: industrial carpeting, itchy blankets, continental breakfasts of equally stale pastries and coffee. And yet, Portlandia reminded us that obsessively curated, hipster-staffed hotels are sometimes a bit too cool for their own good. We’ll never be able to hear about the Ace Hotels without thinking about the show’s equivalent — the Deuce. The current season’s arc about Peter and Nance’s quirky bed and breakfast, meanwhile, has us crossing another lodging option off the list.

Elaborate Birthday Parties

How clever we thought we were, eschewing the obligatory drinks meet-up for an all-day, multi-stage birthday blowout. Come to find out, earlier this season, that all these gatherings do is stress out our friends and leave them bankrupt. Oh, and tapas for 20? Out of the question.

Creative Weddings

Marriage: it’s not just for heteronormative suburbanites anymore! Last year, Portlandia spent a whole episode satirizing the “cool wedding,” mining the contradictions of self-proclaimed radicals submitting to an age-old rite of passage. And if that didn’t make you feel silly for trying to spice up your nuptials, how about the sketch this season, in which Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban was invoked to shut down a wedding between a man and a woman whose choreographed church entrance was deemed “gay.”

Feminist Bookstores

OK, sure: Nothing can really ruin feminist bookstores — even Fred and Carrie have love for New York’s wonderful Bluestockings. But we’ve got to admit, it’s begun to surprise us when we walk into the latter establishment and are treated to attentive help from the store’s friendly staff, rather than the blank stares and touchy lectures on offer at Women & Women First

Your Acquaintances’ DJ Nights

It used to be exciting when a friend invited you to her DJ night. Hell, you didn’t even realize she knew her way around a turntable. But then Portlandia nailed the everyone’s-a-laptop-DJ revolution, and it occurred to you that watching your friends spin (or, you know, shuffle around with headphones on while iTunes does all the work) was becoming more of an obligation than a pleasure. And now, whenever a Facebook invite with the words “DJ set” in it pops up, you just hit “decline.”


That’s a cute skirt,” says our shopping companion. At first, we agree: it’s bright, and the cut’s flattering. But what’s the print? Oh, is that swallows? We couldn’t possibly. We reply with a terse, “Put a bird on it.” Her eyes grow wide. She drops the hanger.