Portlandia: S08E04 “Open Relationship” Review

You ever just not connect with a joke? You see it’s humor, and you see the engine of what makes it funny, but it just doesn’t land for you. That’s the first sketch of this episode for me. It’s about setting up a new restaurant where you can eat with people over sinks, and not just do it alone. Problem is, I’ve never eaten in front of a sink. I’ve never even thought about it. When I think about it now, when I’ve seen the sketch, I just think it’s gross. I’ve always just gotten a plate, and eaten a sandwich off it, or a paper towel, and stepped away from the sink. Even if I’ve cleaned the sink, it’s not for eating over, so I don’t do it. It’s one of those jokes that specifically for people not like me. I can’t even say it’s a bad sketch, there’s wonderful bits that set up the world of this restaurant, but the sketch is just one I can’t connect to. Now if it was about ordering a pizza out of rage, that’s something I could connect to!

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Seriously, why? (Picture Source: IFC)

This next one, however, hits all the right notes. Basically, it’s two people who are helping a lady out with parallel parking. It’s one joke, but it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Many jokes can come out of a misused good intention. The over helpful two eventually get Shannon Woodward to the point where she decides to park somewhere else, and the wonderful twist happens where the two execute their plan of just taking the parking space for themselves, and park like assholes.

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I didn’t mean to set up a picnic on your shirt, but that pattern doesn’t help anything! (Picture Source: IFC)

Next we have people in a call meeting who decide that they should do the meeting in virtual reality so that they could at least feel like they are in the same room. I own a VR headset, and the feeling of “I’m doing things in virtual reality cause I can” is very familiar to me, but unfortunately, this sketch kind of thuds. The chaos that ensues is pretty fun, and I like the twist at the end where everyone ends up fired, but there’s not enough meat to this premise to keep it entertaining.

Next, the best character on television returns, Kyle MacLachlan as the Mayor of Portland. He’s been asked to be part of a Plains Evergreen Train commercial for tourism of Western America, where a helicopter will fly over, and he will wave, and speak his part. This whole sketch is wonderful, because it’s all about the small talk while you wait. From whether he should say “or Oregon” because it’s more grammatically correct, even through it sounds weird, or say “and Oregon” because it sounds better, or commenting on how there was a lot of people in a room while he was getting photographs taken, this sketch lives in the mundane small talk, and it’s probably the best sketch of the episode.

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Just preparing for any craziness David Lynch throws my way. (Picture Source: IFC)

Next Fred and Carrie go for a walk, and Fred must do some soul searching after stepping on a snail. He then finds a group of snails and confesses to them that he accidently killed one of them, which they are super cool with because they are snails and want to die. This sketch is super dark, and your mileage may vary, especially because these snails sound like children, and it’s weird hearing them say “We want to die! Kill us!”, but I found Fred’s acceptance of these snail’s dark fate pretty entertaining. Extra points for the funny restaurant stinger at the end, with the Escargot.

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Presented without comment. (Picture Source: IFC)

Finally, the through line of the episode, “Open Relationship”. Doug’s talking to Claire about how great his shirt is, when Claire decides that she wants an open relationship. Claire finds a guy (David Wain) and at first, the relationship between Doug and Dave is like what it would be like if your room mate brought a new friend over, and the inconveniences that come with it, but with more sex with your wife. Finally, after a while, these two get along like old friends, playing games with each other, building forts, and offering Claire a dirty taste test, you know, like friends do!

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Join us, we saw this on a Dan Harmon show once! (Picture Source: IFC)

 

The more and more Doug and David are bonding, the unhappier Claire gets. Finally, in an artfully depressing scene, Claire decides to break it off with David. What follows is a series of depressing bits of reasoning, reminiscing, pouring ones heart out, and an eventual 4 way with Shannon Woodward as their forth, in a very “We’re not quite sure how to end this sketch moment” which worked more than others. I really liked this sketch because it was such a roller coaster, and the sweet way that Doug and David treat everyone is very funny. I especially liked the scene where David Wain is casually moving his car naked, after having sex with Claire. It’s a sketch that lives in it’s openness to weird acceptance, and I had a good time watching it.

 

Over all, if there was a theme of this episode, I’d probably say it’s disappointment, because all of the sketches had to deal with disappointment in a humorous way. Whether it’s a change to a relationship status, to the discovery of losing your job, the whole episode had a way of making fun out of the multiple ways you can get disappointed in life. The only sketch that might not fit into that would probably be the first one, but you might life in a life of disappointment anyway if you must eat food over a sink… sorry, I just don’t get that. I mean, power to you if you do, but really, you can just wash a plate.

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Author: Devin Melnyk

I'm still trying to figure out how the internet works.

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