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15 Oct

It’s a little like Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”—the imagery evokes a world you’d like to live in, even if the people in it are hard to live with.The characters in “Portlandia” are dressed with an eye toward recognition, not ridicule.Onstage, she projects the primal grandeur of Iggy Pop.

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.For twelve years, Brownstein, now thirty-seven, was a guitarist and singer in Sleater-Kinney, a three-woman band from Olympia, Washington.Sleater-Kinney drew on the riot-grrrl sound but transcended it; the band’s energy was raw and punky, its vocals haunting and its lyrics vehement.Brownstein says that when she puts on the outfits picked for her by the show’s costume designer, Amanda Needham, she feels as if she were “borrowing clothes from someone’s closet.” Needham, who told me that she shops for the “Portlandia” characters year-round, as if they were friends, won an Emmy last year for her designs.But the most palpable affection onscreen is that between Armisen and Brownstein, who have an unusually devoted platonic relationship. When Brownstein showed up, she found him wearing a Sleater-Kinney button with her picture on it.Peter, played by Fred Armisen, asks if the hazelnuts, too, are local.Nance, played by Carrie Brownstein, needs to know the size of the parcel of land where the chicken roamed freely.They met in 2003, when Sleater-Kinney was playing in New York City, and Armisen invited the band to an “S. Their paths had probably crossed before: Armisen started out his performing life as the drummer in a Chicago punk band called Trenchmouth, and he was married for six years to the British singer and songwriter Sally Timms, from the Mekons.Brownstein says that she and Armisen likely slept on some of the same couches when both were touring.“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.