“She was a straight-out-of-the-box rock star.” Sometimes this side of Brownstein appears on “Portlandia”—when one of her characters needs to freak out, she delivers a great howl. The warmth is not in the writing, which leans toward the acerbic, but you can find it in other places, like the show’s dreamy look.In the opening-credit sequence, a chillwave instrumental plays over a montage of lush, tree-lined streets and saturated neon against an inky blue sky.,” brining everything from eggs at an urban farm to a broken high heel found on the sidewalk.) “Portlandia” is an extended joke about what Freud called the narcissism of small differences: the need to distinguish oneself by minute shadings and to insist, with outsized militancy, on the importance of those shadings.Brownstein, who is also one of the show’s writers and producers, told me, “In general, things in a place like Portland are really great, so little concerns become ridiculous.
She had never done comedy before collaborating with Armisen, and, in many ways, she is the epitome of the indie culture that the show sends up.
The first time that we sat down to talk, at a restaurant in Portland’s loft-filled Pearl District, she said, “I’ve never understood people who play up the artifice of music. It took me outside of anything I’d ever done.” She had been an isolated teen-ager, and punk was “a salvation,” she said.
“You can never underestimate that moment of somebody explaining your life to you, something you thought was inexplicable, through music.
“His name was Colin.” Peter seems appeased: “He looks like a happy little guy who runs around.” But then he wonders if the animal had “a lot of friends—other chickens as friends?
” The waitress, who finds this a reasonable question, admits, “I don’t know that I can speak to that level of intimate knowledge about him.”“Portlandia,” which débuted last winter, on the Independent Film Channel, and returns on January 6th, is the rare sketch-comedy series that has a sustained object of satire.