Who are you? How would you describe yourself. Without anything more to go on, what comes to mind when describing you? Are you a movie snob? Are you a mother? Or a Father? Photogenic? Sports fan? Architect? It’s kind of a weird question, and whenever anyone asks me that, I can’t just come out with straight answer. I’m better at just trying to describe someone else just by the limited amount that I know about them, even if it’s wrong. “Oh, you wear glasses! You’re obviously smart!” See? Easy! This whole episode is about classifying yourself, and others, and how funny and bizarre it is when you must bring it up. This simple theme makes for my new favorite episode of the season.
As usual, the first sketch delves right into the theme. It’s about the new policy in Portland, where more lanes are being added to the highway, and the type of a person you are, designates which lane you stick to. There’s the Motorbike lane, the Hearse lane, the Proud of you Child lane, Artist lane and so on. The magic of this sketch begins with the amount of personalities they give a car lane to, which then leads to being scanned at the DMV so you can properly be segregated, which finally leads to a wonderful scene, used as an example, where Officer Mazzola and Officer Powers role play a scene where a driver is picking someone who is a guest speaker from the airport, and strike up an awkward conversation. It’s really funny.
What do you to prepare yourself for the big earthquake? If you are anything like Fred and Carrie, you go to Disaster Hut, of course! Disaster Hut combines the need to be ready for a disaster type situation, with the experience of being at a restaurant! What’s wonderful about this sketch, is that while Fred decides to get something basic, as though those were the only things on the menu, Carrie asks for a way more, and gets it, and Fred can’t go back on his order because Kumail Nanjiani won’t allow it. He already marked it down. Where as Carrie can get a variety of soups, a sparkling rosé, a six pack of beer, a crème brulee (unfortunately, they only have the lavender type), and so much more! Fred is stuck with 60 cans of kidney beans. You could tell that this was an improvised sketch for the most part, and the actors just have a lot of fun being antagonistic to each other, in the most civil way. Also, the bit about the desert island cd is great.
Next we have an office work space sketch that offers the cure for allergies, which is actually a cold, which might actually be a sinus infection. It’s a simple, but effective ramp up sketch where office workers help a lady named Jamie get over her sickness with increasingly bizarre remedies. We don’t see her take any these remedies, but her acceptance for… half of these remedies in itself is humorous. The button on this scene is also wonderful. It’s very pod people in its paranoia.
Dave and Kath are not very good at getting their pictures taken, so when they find out that the there is a photo booth at a wedding they’re going to, they must learn to get better. The absurdity of this sketch is the fact that these two straight laced people feel the need to do a photo booth every time they see one. Well, actually, the other absurdity of this scene is that they hire someone to take pictures of them. It’s such an uncomfortable scene, in that in real life, this is such an easy thing to do, but its also kind of relatable, because we all have that one thing we aren’t actually good at that should be second nature. Just step in front of a camera and pose.
You ever want to know what happens at a trampoline company’s legal department? No? Me neither. But this show has! Trampolines are by far the best toy that you can accidentally hurt or kill yourself on, and it’s up to the legal department to stave off those lawsuits by basically offering everyone who threatens to sue a million dollars. The anger and misery the legal department goes through is palpable. All in the name of customer service. There’s more humor when they show the prototype of the skateboard trampoline, and the misery that it’s already causing.
Finally, we have the through line of the episode, “You do You”. Sandra lives in an apartment, where she lives a quite life, where she builds her puzzles. Her new next door neighbor, however, does not live a quite life. He blares hard and heavy music from across the way, and when she confronts him about it, he says that he can’t right now, because he’s living his truth! Why would you disturb a man who’s living his truth.
Things get worse though, where every time she knocks on the door, she catches him doing worse and worse. Finally the cops come in to arrest the guy for murder and being a neo nazi, but decided to let him go because he convinced them that he is just living his truth! What kind of monster would stop someone from living their truth! What’s Sandra’s truth though? To the cops, it’s to move out before he kills you.
So Sandra goes house hunting, with Hugh, the realtor. Hugh’s first and last stop is a giant mansion, that’s far to big for Sandra. Hugh is great manipulator, in that he doesn’t suggest that you do something with the room, he just tells you that you’re going to do it, in a way that makes you think that you’ve always had it in mind. So of course she takes it.
30 years later, she’s built an empire off of almost nothing. She’s got workers, a receptionist, a family, all in this house. She’s in the middle of her thirtieth year anniversary of owning this house, when the government comes in and evicts her, because of course she couldn’t afford it! The fact that she’s $10 Million in debt is super reasonable. But that’s what happens when you do you! This was a great through line, and as sad as the ending was, the fact that she got 30 years in this house is pretty incredible.
I was never bored during this episode and was laughing through most of it. It’s such a clever episode, which plays to the strengths of the subtle absurdity that this show is known for. It’s episodes like this that make me feel sad that the show is ending. “Portlandia” has a one of a kind personality, and it’s a voice that appeals to me.