Portlandia returns to IFC this Thursday night, and the entire Season 5 premiere is dedicated to “The Story of Tori and Candace,” aka the proprietors of Women & Women First. Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen play the feminist bookstore owners before they found their home, going back into the ’80s when they met as rivals in corporate America. The backstabbing, the fashion, the misogyny of the environment is captured perfectly, and then this happens.
That epic dance-off puts Candace on top, until she finds out the boss was never planning on hiring a woman for the job she and Toni have been vying for (the head of Chick Lit). In the end, the two come together and show the men they work for that they have bigger balls than the rest of them combined.
What’s so fantastic about Portlandia is the show’s ability to comment on things like classicism, misogyny and general judgment from people in positions of certain kinds of privilege. Carrie and Fred embody their characters so fully that they become the archetypes they hope to poke fun at with smart dialogue, eccentric situations and spot-on costuming. Their fearlessness and ability to completely lose themselves within the heightened personas they take on are stronger than they’ve ever been before.
Portlandia, like the city it uses as fodder for its quirky and campy stories, is inherently queer and the show boasts out writer Karey Dornetto as an executive producer, too. With Carrie and Fred frequently dressing in drag and subverting gender and sexuality norms (one Season 3 storyline had them dating the same woman, played by Chloë Sevigny) and several LGBT extras and guest stars appearing throughout the show’s history, Portlandia is portraying some of the most realistic people and situations we are privy to on television, even if they are way heightened and explored. But that’s what makes it so much fun.
In Season 5, each episode will be dedicated to a Portlandia pairing from the past. An episode called “Dead Pets” follows Kath and Dave as they share how happy they are to have a daughter who isn’t a “weirdo.” No spoilers but Olivia Wilde is a great guest star and there’s a nod to punk musical activists like Pussy Riot that puts Carrie on guitar and Fred behind a drumkit for a song called “We Did It.” Other returning couples include Lance and Nina, Bryce and Lisa, and Spyke and Iris.
Cameos from past Portlandia actors like Angel Bouchet and guest stars like Jane Lynch and Parker Posey make this season even more exciting. Those who were fans of the sketch set-up of seasons past will not be disappointed as the half-hour episodes give us even more of the characters we love (or love to be annoyed by) than ever before.
Portlandia premieres Thursday, January 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on IFC.