Portlandia

TV review by
Elka Karl, Common Sense Media
Portlandia TV Poster Image
Quirky comedy about hipsters is mild but meant for adults.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 14 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Quirky characters are made fun of, but still appreciated. The overall message of the show is to take life less seriously.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The show gently makes fun of people, so no one is really a role model. But the female lead (and co-producer), Carrie Brownstein, who is much better known for her work in Portland indie rock band Sleater-Kinney, is a positive role model for girls interested in comedy and music.

Violence
Sex

A character is a polygamist and squeezes another character's buttocks. Some simulated sex with thrusting movements, but no nudity.

Language

Occasional language like "bitch," "hooker," and "pimp."

Consumerism

Gadgets such as iPads, iPhones, and laptops are used as a joke, as are different websites.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character says she is addicted to her herbal tea, and then says addiction is funny. Rare background drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Portlandia is a quirky comedy that gently teases its intended audience of post-hip adults in their 30s and 40s, but otherwise has little iffy content. The show's humor is based on familiarity with the '90s, and the trends and characteristics of Portland, OR, and similar hip, progressive cities, which means most of the show's jokes may be lost on teens too young to understand the references.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymrswillard January 4, 2012

Was hilarious; got gross quick

The pilot was completely hilarious. There's a second where a polygamist "gooses" another man, and that man becomes one of his "wives"—b... Continue reading
Adult Written byenglishteacherandmom February 1, 2014

Nina and Lance NOT for kids

I am surprised by this rating, first because the jokes are so specific to a certain 20 and 30 something subculture, but secondly, because Portlandia contains sk... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bytheironichipster June 23, 2012

PUT A BIRD ON IT!

You may find it ironic that I rated this as 14 and up even though i'm 13 myself, but i'm told to be very mature for my age. If you're a mature ki... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old January 20, 2012

Quirky and Hilarious for the Mature Viewers

Portlandia is a quirky show, that any SNL fan will love! Some sketches are inappropriate for younger viewers, but you should know your child's maturity. Ov... Continue reading

What's the story?

This new six-part IFC comedy series, featuring Carrie Brownstein (singer/guitarist from Sleater-Kinney) and Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live), pokes fun at Portland, Oregon's various subcultures and tendencies. Brownstein and Armisen present characters including feminist book store workers, bird-decorating home designers, organic farmers, hide-and-seek game league members, and punk rockers, among others. Much of the original music is written and performed by the pair. Series' guests include Kyle MacLachlan, Aubrey Plaza, Heather Graham, Gus Van Sant, Aimee Mann, and Selma Blair. The series is entirely shot on location in Portland, OR.

Is it any good?

This series is very, very funny if you're one of the audience members who can appreciate its context. Prerequisites for understanding and enjoying the finer points of its skits include some knowledge of Portland (or the idea of Portland), feminist bookstores, organic small farms, tech geekery, and hyperliteracy. That said, many parents in their 30s and 40s qualify nicely for enjoying the references to Tucker Max, free range organic heritage chicken, and iPad overuse. And while kids may not get it, they'll likely find some of the visual gags and back-and-forth banter between Brownstein and Armisen funny.

Portlandia, which is shot entirely in and around Portland, is spot-on in its portrayal of cool, progressive cities that perhaps take themselves a bit too seriously. While the subcultures portrayed in the skits are definitely used as the butt of the jokes, these jokes are usually rather gentle. You can tell that Armisen and Brownstein appreciate Portland and its inhabitants, from the transgender feminists to the agro, self-righteous bicyclists to the coffee shop slackers. While the show may be limiting its audience given its specific setting, those that do get Portlandia will find it absolutely hilarious.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters in Portlandia. Why do Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein make fun of their characters? Why is it funny? Do you think it is mean? Why or why not? Have you met people similar to those they portray?

  • Families can talk about context. Do you know anything about the city of Portland, Oregon? Do you think you would appreciate the show more if you lived in Portland? Is it necessary to know something about the types of people that are being portrayed in the series, such as punk rockers, to appreciate the humor?

  • Do you find it funny when actor Fred Armisen dresses as a woman? Why do you think dressing in drag is funny? Do you think he is making fun of women or just playing a character?

TV details

For kids who love comedy

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate