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Underrated/Overrated

January 23, 2011

'Portlandia' on IFC: Given Oregon's status as "California's Canada" (kudos, Stephen Colbert), we know and love Portland's eco-conscious culture and uniquely DIY aesthetic. That's what makes it so fun to watch "SNL's" Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein giddily skewer every Portland stereotype in this sketch comedy series. You've built a beautiful city, Portlanders — hope you've got as much of a sense of humor about it as we do.

'Exit Through the Gift Shop' (2010): Ostensibly about the elusive British street artist Banksy, this documentary ends up making its own twisted statement about the art world. With a razor sharp wit, the film becomes the story of "Mr. Brainwash," an unoriginal graffiti art scenester who enjoys a massive L.A. opening but just might be a Banksy creation himself. We're not sure if it's all a joke, but asking the question is probably part of the point.

Giggling at the Gucci Mane saga: The Internet went wild recently with jokes about this hip-hop artist's unfortunate decision to get a triple-scoop ice cream cone tattooed across his cheek. Living in L.A. we're well versed in appreciating ill-advised fashion and body ink choices, but given that Gucci had just left a psychiatric hospital, something about this just feels wrong. Can someone get this guy some help before he melts down any further?

The tone of 'Shameless': Though it's generally a pleasure to watch William H. Macy work, this new Showtime series suffers from an identity crisis. Too cartoonish to be sad yet too tragic to be funny, this show's goal seems to be impressing us with how edgy and outrageous it can be. Violent drunks and deviants may be part of life, but until they're more than over-the-top, irredeemable caricatures they're just unpleasant company on a Sunday night.

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