TV Club: Portlandia: “The Fiancée”

Having watched Portlandia for its entire run, one of the most surprising changes of heart I’ve had over the years has been my relationship to Nina and Lance. The only central couple where Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein swap the boyfriend and girlfriend roles around, the pair are at first glance not particularly endearing, a twist on the needy girlfriend and distant boyfriend remarkable only because of the gender swap. At the time of “Nina’s Birthday” I even called them my least favorite couple in Portlandia, criticizing Armisen’s voice as grating and Brownstein’s as more than a little unsettling.

Yet over the course of five seasons, Portlandia has pulled a remarkable trick: It’s made them the couple in whom the show produces the highest level of romantic sweetness. While couples like Dave and Kath or Peter and Nance are in symbotic/co-dependent marriages, and Fred …

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