• Portlandia season 2 premiere recap: “Mixology”

    All hail the return of the non-hipster-bashing Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, satirists of the twee and zeitgeist-y IRL and artisanal picklers, IPL who yes, can pickle that. Jewel cases, parking tickets, broken off heels: all pickleable. Let’s go have a cocktail.

    Skit 1: MINT. As a proud and well-beveraged Brooklynite, I have grown weary of fake Prohibitian-era bars that serve speakeasy-inspired cocktails made with locally-distilled gin and artisanal ice cubes stirred with special imported Japanese spoons and served in hand-blown glass tumblers. The drinks cost a shitload and, more often than not, taste like one. This proves that I am the same as Carrie and Fred, and we should be best friends.

    As best friends, we’d go to Portland’s MINT to celebrate our blossoming friendship over specialty cocktails prepared by a master mixologist. It is bathed in low light and heirloom damask velvet flock wallpaper, and to order, you just tell the perfect hipster dreamboat (little-boy haircut, skinny tie) behind the bar what you’re in the mood for, and he’ll make you a specific cocktail. Carrie, having done this, receives a ginger-based concoction featuring egg yellows, rotten banana, and homemade bitters served over charred ice. Dreamboat mixologist and someone she went to camp with (Andy Samberg) tells her that the final ingredient is a little bit of love. It’s the best drink she’s ever had. Fred sips and declares the obvious: the mixologist loves her. How should she respond to such a charming and delicious declaration of affection? Make him a mix tape, a mix tape curated around the theme of drinks! No better way to win a mixologist’s heart.

    Skit 2: Kath & Dave. Portland’s most uptight fun-seekers are back and they have decided to go boating on a river (Willamette or Columbia, we’ll never know, and never know the difference). For Fun Quest 2012, they’ve got sensible outfits and a boatload of safety equipment, but they’ve forgotten their camera. As they review the safety release of a flotation device, a flotilla of stoned, shaving-averse tube-floaters drift by, wantonly delivering thumbs-ups and sipping beer from a keg in a kiddie float. As Kath and Dave explain their reserved river space and general boating rules, Kath is accidentally carried away by a rogue tube. She uses the safe word she and Dave decided upon pre-adventure (cacao, meet your replacement): “A-O River!”. Dave, unable to adapt to unexpected circumstances, pens her a note as she floats away to uncertain destinations. Kath, ever-self-sufficient, manages to get back to dry land just as Dave is inserting his rolled-up note into a recycled Poland Spring bottle. Keep Portland weird!

    Skit 3: MINT/SoCal. Carrie and Fred go back to MINT without me to drop off the mix tape only to be informed that Andy has moved to SoCal and taken a job at an establishment known as the Windjammer. So obviously they grab a cab and tell him to drive one thousand miles south. Upon their arrival, they are blinded by the unfamiliar SoCal sun, so they purchase a couple of burkas and some oversized sunglasses and walk along the freeway until they begin to starve. The first restaurant they come upon is the thankfully air-conditioned Around the World in 80 Plates. They don’t have cheeseburgers, but they do have Slamburgers. They don’t have iced tea, they have smile tea (which is tea with ice in it). Their waiter (Kumail Nanjiani, who also played the guy from the cell phone store from last season) displays an unholy alliance to the gimmicky menu and flagrant disregard for Carrie and Fred’s starvation. Do you want to Lobsterate your meal? Breakfastize it? Super Spike it? Just Super Spike the sides? Good choice. After a prolonged ordering session, the waiter from hell returns to let them know that—totes his bad—the menu has actually changed since it’s after 6 PM. Carrie and Fred flee the premises, stolen dinner rolls crammed into their maws.

    Skit 4: Women & Women First. Mom-and-pop bookstore proprietors Candace and Toni are a little hot under the dashiki. The AC is broken, and their flowing garments and men’s overalls are dampening with feminine sweat. Toni is immediately offended because the WWII-era AC HVAC guy uses the word “unit” as he assesses the problem. Unaffected by her feminist outrage, he refers to Candace and Toni as “sweetie” and “ma’am,” which prompts them to unleash their wrath upon him: gender studies book recommendations. He contemplates his feminine side for a hot second (yep, he likes broads), then fixes the AC and is paid with whatever’s in the Women & Women First payment bowl. Twenty-eight bucks is a little less than the $300 he’s owed, but he takes it and runs out the door. Guess Sweetie and Ma’am need to sell some books.

    Skit 5: Pelican Cancer. A teenaged door-to-door do-gooder delivers his signature-gathering pitch to a middle-aged homeowner. A petition for the eradication of plastic bags (they cause pelican cancer) is affixed to the clipboard he clutches in his lily-white hands. His name is Alex, and if you won’t sign, he’ll go away, but will return with his smothering parents (a.k.a., plastic bags) who will also try and convince you to sign in order to protect Alex’s sensitive soul. If you still manage to be able to say no, next, you’ll have Alex’s aging-hippie grandparents at your door telling you how they feel like they haven’t done their job with their family if you don’t sign. So can you just sign??? No? Fine, Alex just wants to go to get ice cream.

    Skit 6: Windjammerz. Back in SoCal, Carrie and Fred discover that the Windjammer is not the Windjammer, but Windjammerz!, a prototypical douche-tastic shot-slinger of a bar, and dreamboat Andy has become a flippant asshole in a neon T-shirt and indoor Wayfarers. Carrie fights her way through a gaggle of blonde fawns and tries to get Andy’s attention to no avail. She’s dismayed at his tumble from mixologist to mere bartender, and entreaties Fred to leave with her. In the name of true love, Fred convinces her to try and jog Andy’s memory by singing their camp song, and guess what, TV fans? It works! Andy removes his shades, drops his bartender persona like he’d drop a trashy blonde from the night before when he sees her in the light of day, tells Carrie he loves her and agrees to accompany her and Fred back to Portland. Fred was right: Andy loves the tape, mixology, Portland and Carrie. And he and Fred seem to get along pretty well, too. Which is important, for the male friend to like your new boyfriend and everything.

    Megan Gilbert

    Megan Gilbert is a Brooklyn-based writer, making her a mystical unicorn. She has written for the New York Press, Paste Magazine blog, Blush Media, Underwater New York. She writes ad copy for Gawker Media, holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College, and is working on a novel starring a mystical unicorn (jk). Read her work at ithardlymatters.com and follow her on Twitter: @ithardlymatt3rs

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