“Portlandia,” IFC’s Emmy-nominated sketch comedy series, is nearing the start of its third season, set to premiere on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 10pm. With a league of extraordinary guest stars slated to appear in the new season (including Chloë Sevigny and a returning Kyle MacLachlan), Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein -- the show’s co-creators and co-writers, along with Jonathan Krisel -- participated in a conference call last week to give journalists a taste of what’s to come for the unique Oregon-based show. What’s changed since season one for the writers? Will they ever leave Portland? How did Martina Navratilova fare on the “Portlandia” set? Are the real Fred and Carrie as gullible as the fake Fred and Carrie? And… Chloë Sevigny (a question in and of herself)?
Below are the most notable reveals concerning what’s been happening behind-the-scenes of “Portlandia” and what to expect in season three.
While the show retains its sketch-like appendages, its core has become driven by the characters and the stories they tell. Brownstein wanted to make it clear that they now “spend a lot more time being deliberate about endings and really making sure there is a story.” Though it may have begun as a sketch series in its first season, “Portlandia” is moving further and further away from its sketch origins and into territory of genuine character development. “There have to be stakes,” Brownstein said. “There has to be something that brings tension to the scene.”
Speaking of stories: Peter and Neil, a boring couple at a cult farm, are Carrie’s favorite characters of season three. Brownstein describes Peter and Neil as the “un-chic, boring couple who are very much in love with each other” and “a little bit syrupy.” Their story takes place at a cult farm, and, while there’s multiple plots this season -- Brownstein and Armisen “really explore [Peter and Neil’s] relationship a lot this year.”
And, finally, Chloë Sevigny. How did that work out? As Carrie’s new roommate, Sevigny helps flesh out the characters of Fred and Carrie more; Armisen said, “We thought: let’s put another person in with them, who is close enough that it can actually have an effect on their friendship in some way.” And Sevigny, although not a comedic actress in the past, seems to have more in common with Brownstein and Armisen than one might’ve thought. “Chloe is a very confident actress, very dedicated to the craft,” Brownstein said of the guest star. “There was this innate chemistry that made us really look forward to being on set with her and hanging out.” They couldn’t give any specific plot points involving their new roommate, barring that they run up to Seattle on a mission for the mayor and end up bringing back Sevigny as a souvenir “to showcase and add a little tension to [Carrie] and Fred’s dynamic.”
But are they really THESE people? Sort of. “I think they’re a little more dumb than we are,” Armisen said, with Brownstein adding: “They’re definitely more gullible, I hope, than me or Fred.” The appeal of being able to portray somewhat naïve, wet-behind-the-ears characters, Brownstein insisted, is that “the audience gets to explore a situation along with us.” Brownstein also references other characters as having a small piece of her occasionally outlandish personality lodged inside their psyche: “Interestingly enough,” Brownstein said, “I wouldn’t say the character of Carrie is any more like me than some of the other characters.”
“Portlandia” recently debuted an all-new pre-season bonus episode titled “Winter in Portlandia” on December 14. The episode is available on IFC.com, the Portlandia Facebook page, and iTunes. The series returns for its third season on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 10pm on IFC.