He noted that "Brownstein and Armisen move so effortlessly between characters, then execute their riffs, tics, styles and voices with such skilled abandon that before long this doesn't seem like satire any longer but a fun house mirror reflection of intensely real people." Contrarily, Brian Lowry, writing for Variety, noted that the show was "clearly on a shoestring budget" and said that it featured an "array of tiresome characters" that provided "further proof not everyone deserves a sketch comedy showcase - especially when the premise cuts no deeper than vignettes inspired by the wheat-germy, hippie-ish environs of Portland, Ore." The sketches set in the feminist bookstore "Women and Women First" were filmed in an actual non-profit feminist bookstore and event center in Portland named In Other Words; this name can be seen on the chalkboard listing in-store events behind the cash register.
Although the feminist bookstore and community center, In Other Words, formerly referenced the show in promoting itself, the store decided to end its relationship with the show in late 2016, stating in a blog post that "the location and staff were mistreated during a filming session, the show is trans-antagonistic and trans-misogynist, becoming more offensive as time goes on, the show doesn't reflect the diversity of the Portland area and contributes to gentrification." Portlandia also won an Emmy Award in 2011 for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety Program or Special and was also nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.
For the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, the show received nominations in Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Fred Armisen, Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series for Jonathan Krisel, and Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Steve Buscemi for the episode "Celery".
Portlandia: Season One was released on Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray on December 6, 2011, and Region 4 on August 1, 2012.
Most of the others use makeup, costumes, and wigs to depict pairings both young and old of various types.
Sometimes cross-dressing is used, as when Armisen portrays Candace, co-owner of the Women and Women First bookstore, or when Armisen and Brownstein swap genders to play the couple Nina and Lance.
Along with this, the actress has also continued to work on the small screen and has made appearances in TV shows such as Heartbreak High, Damages and Portlandia.
It was created by Armisen and Brownstein, along with Jonathan Krisel, who directs it. Brownstein and Armisen first met in 2003 and began collaborating on a series of comedy sketches for the Internet in 2005 titled Thunder Ant.
The sketches became increasingly Portland-centric, with premises ranging from irate diners at a popular Hawthorne District restaurant registering ridiculous complaints on the review website Yelp!
to a character's disastrous one-man performance at the city's Hollywood Theatre.
The show has received mostly positive reviews from television critics.
Review aggregator site Metacritic has given the first season a rating of 71 out of 100, and the second season a rating of 75 out of 100.