Early in Portlandia’s run, the show established a friendly relationship with the local basketball team, as former Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge proved to be quite an amusing comic foil. Now, with Aldridge in San Antonio, Damian Lillard has taken over as the team’s biggest star, so it makes sense that he would want to get in on the fun, too. Tonight, he cameo-ed as Carrie’s new best friend in an episode that made some intriguing observation about how friendships operate these days.

After Carrie’s friend Mia is married (there’s an amusing bit where Fred and Carrie try to find the wedding), she realizes she’ll no longer be able to hang out with her and begins looking for a replacement. The idea of losing friends to marriage is common, but it’s important to note that she immediately decides to sever contact, not even entertaining the idea that things could be salvaged. At this point, the notion that once a friend is married, they’re no longer a part of your life has been firmly entrenched into society, and the shows does not hold back when pointing that out.

This leads Carrie to an “acquaintance fair” (do such things exist?), where she meets a “friend collector” named Kendall who brags about being pals with Carrie’s Sleater-Kinney bandmates. He has little potential as a friend, but after mentioning that Lillard is coming to his party, Carrie decides it’s worth checking out. While there, she and Lillard form an instant bond and have an awkward moment when they have to tell Kendall that neither one of them wants to be his friend. More often than not, it’s a snap decision who we want to be friends with. In this case, however, it feels like Fred and Carrie made the right call by passing on Kendall.

In the final sequence of this arc, Lillard watches a video guide, narrated by Fred, to being Carrie’s friend, with Lillard taking notes as Fred mentions when she was born. While he watches the movie, Carrie shows up at his house, and they play a game of hoops. Somehow, the idea of these two being friends doesn’t seem particularly absurd. Lillard was a good sport with a decent sense of comedic timing, and it would be fun to see him on the show again.

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Elsewhere, our dorky men’s rights activists have returned, this time to put on a film festival celebrating men’s achievements in the movies. The joke here is obvious: Such a festival is unnecessary, because male film directors are well-represented and have already received immense praise. It can’t help but feel frustrating that the show felt it necessary to point this out, as it should be already well-observed. Still, we’re in the middle of Why Isn’t There A White History Month Month, so yes, these conversations still need to be had. Making things a little less depressing was the bit where the MRAs were appalled that a teenager perceived Point Break as a guy movie, not knowing it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Elsewhere, The B-52s show up in the funniest sketch of the night. The premise is brilliant: Two vinyl collectors are geeking out over a B-52s box set that’s so elaborate that it contains the band itself in miniature form. Naturally, they’re hanging out at a love shack. At first, I thought, “Okay, this is funny, but it’s basically an ad,” but a search of Amazon and Google revealed no plans for a remastered vinyl box set of the band’s discography. Now, I’m pretty disappointed. Let’s hope they make one soon, and that it really does come with a toy rock lobster!

This episode expertly mocks lifestyle trends and fad diets throughout. The first isntance comes with an infomercial promoting a caveman lifestyle, suggesting that we should go back to eating the way hunter-gatherers did. The commentary here is clever, but what really makes this sketch stand out are the antics of the caveman, who is disappointed to find out that the woman narrating the video is already seeing someone and dejectedly points at his crotch.

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The other sketch focuses on the Banana Diet, which promises you’ll have rock-hard abs in no time if you only eat bananas. There’s just one catch: It also destroys your colon. The woman going on the diet takes the precaution of sound-proofing the office bathroom so her massive bowel evacuation will go unheard by her co-workers. It doesn’t really work, however, because the movement still ends up being so massive that it causes the entire building to reverberate. This was a delightfully absurd sketch that made a pointed observation both about the overabundance of nonsensical diets that people blindly follow as well as the lengths we are willing to go to achieve the bodies we desire.

Throughout its run, Portlandia has done a wonderful job of providing intelligent social commentary, and tonight’s episode is no exception. Topics like feminism, dieting, and the ins and outs of human relationships were all handled with great skill. After a somewhat underwhelming start, Portlandia has delivered two consecutive strong episodes, and the prospects are quite high for the remainder of season seven.

Stray observations

  • Laurie Metcalf appears in a sketch about a woman who panics any time one of her co-workers approaches her with any variation on the phrase “Can I talk to you for a minute?” Anyone with anxiety issues (hi!) can likely relate.
  • The idea that someone born in 2003 is a teenager now will haunt me for the forseeable future.
  • Look, I love me some B-52s, but would anyone really be that excited about Funplex?
  • NBA nerds (hi!) will likely get a kick out of the plush Lillard doll that he promotes in a ubiquitous ad for the NBA store being displayed in his living room. Five stars.

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