I haven’t seen Battlestar Galactica, although people tell me I should watch it because it’s like The Wire but in space. You know what I have seen a lot of? Friends! It’s like The Wire, but for white people living in cushy rent-controlled apartments in the West Village in the ’90s, and without any sort of believable dramatic storylines. Plus, remember Marcel the monkey? Loved that monkey. Anyhoo, some intrepid internet artist did one of those mash-up things in which he (or she—let’s not get sexist here) made a funny little montage of Battlestar scenes set to the Friends theme song. Could it BE anymore fracking funny? (Did I do the ‘frack’ joke right?)
Look, man: there can only be one show at a time that people harass each other about watching, and right now that’s Breaking Bad. Sure, by now most people are watching Breaking Bad as it airs, but show a little respect—its tenure as That Show You Gotta Watch is almost at an end, so wait your turn, Homeland early adopters.
You don’t make the rules, got it? I watched the Battlestar Galactica remake in fuckin’ 2011. That’s how I roll. I may not ever get around to Homeland at all, though I’m happy to slot it above Game of Thrones in my don’t-even-bother stack. I still haven’t started season two of Deadwood. Plus I might even read a book sometime.
What makes you think I need help with my TV agenda, by the way? It’s basically the one thing every American is qualified to set for themselves: even people in mental wards know that Wheel of Fortune comes on at 7:30. Feel free to tell me about some indie band or cult-hit movie that I’ve never heard of, but don’t come shilling a premium cable series advertised on the side of every third city bus. Unless the nudity is really top-notch.
You can be forgiven for finding Portlandia too realistic to be very funny. The show can seem like a caricature of an "Overheard in Brooklyn" blog, or at its worst a freshman student theatre production about all those damn hipsters. All the talk about birds and bikes and beards, jeez! It’s as easy as shooting bloggers at an open bar.
But it does get some things very, very right, such as the over-validation of Battlestar Galactica, known casually as the only good science-fiction property to ever exist. You’ve probably heard your friends talk about it with some skepticism given way to devotion, just like Fred Armisen’s character in this newly-released Season 2 clip. "It’s not just regular science fiction," he tells Carrie Brownstein"It’s actually good."
Of course, if Armisen and Brownstein had really gotten into it, they would’ve replaced BSG with Game of Thrones — the newest nerdy property to escape the genre ghetto into respectability. By stripping out all of the goofiness and grounding its meticulous mythology in cable TV realism, both of those shows won themselves overwhelming acclaim from people who can talk your ear off about The Wire. To be sure, they are very good. But they’ll always come with caveats, from now until the end of time.
The second season of Portlandia premieres on Friday, January 6, if you’re into that sort of thing.