TCA Dispatch: Evan Rachel Wood and Kate Winslet on their relationship in “Mildred Pierce,” Carrie Brownstein talks “Portlandia”

9 a.m. IFC’s Portlandia

The sketch comedy starring bisexual musician/actress Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney and Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen stems from the duo’s online series ThunderAnt. And while music isn’t a big part of the six-episode series, it’s how Portlandia was born.

“Fred was a drummer in Chicago for many years and when Carrie was taking about ThunderAnt in our first meeting, everyone thought [the show] was going to be about music and instead it morphed into this comedy thing,” co-creator/co-writer/director Jonathan Krisel said during the panel. “A lot of the pieces are this musical back and forth and a repetition of sounds and stuff.”

Brownstein, who laughed when a critic in the room asked how rival city Seattle compared to Portland, noted that the series’ musical roots can be seen it its “raw power” and that the city is really proud of show.

“We shot in Portland and I’ve lived in Portland for 10 years; I still live there,” Brownstein noted. “We used 98 percent local crew, 60 different Portland locations. We felt like we were running a marathon and being cheered on by the people of Portland.”

Armisen, who “appeared” via an audio-only satellite, said his Saturday Night Live colleagues were supportive of the show and were understanding of his bringing new characters — including one sketch in which he and Brownstein play owners of a womyn’s feminist bookstore — to Portlandia instead of bringing them to the SNL table.

“They recognize that the characters could work in either place,” he said. “It’s a timing thing that was very specific to this show. Half that sketch is Carrie and it needs her to work as a duo.”


Brownstein, meanwhile, noted that she’s quite content to remain in Portland and not interested in heading to Portlandia exec producer Lorne Michaels’ other show.

“I like performing when it’s live music; when you make a mistake you can turn up your am really loud,” she joked. “We think of Portlandia as different than sketch; it’s a series of short films. We could put out eight little indie movies for the amount of filming we did.”

Asked about the series’ short six-episode run, Krisel noted that it was a timing thing. “It was partially based on Fred’s schedule,” he said. “Six is the number for a British series. We’re not trying to do 1,000 seasons. This is a very curated, small, little perfect universe. The whole thing is like an art project. Carrie has music, Fred has SNL. This is a special art piece. I see it as a first series.”

To which Brownstein quickly — and optimistically — added: “We, of course, hope to do a second season. And beyond.”

Let’s hope so.

Portlandia premieres Jan. 21 at 10:30 p.m. on IFC.

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