The dream of the '90s is alive in Portland. Well, was alive in Portland.
The sketch comedy show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that takes place in Oregon's hipster city — Portlandia —aired from 2011 to 2018 on IFC. The series' eight seasons were loved for their quirky situations, funny characters, and sharp writing.
While we can't expect any more episodes of Portlandia to be made in the future, we can look back at the wonderful seasons already out there and see how they stack up. That's what we'll be doing today using data from Rotten Tomatoes.
We'll first be ranking the seasons by their Tomatometer score, which is based on the positive and negative reviews of critics. If two seasons have the same critic score, we'll be turning to the audience score for answers. If the audience scores tie, the season with more reviews will be placed first. And lastly, if a season didn't get enough critic rating to receive an official Tomatometer score, we'll be giving it a shout-out at the beginning.
Portlandia as a whole received a 94% Tomatometer score and an 80% audience score, so it's time to set your expectations high as we journey to one of Oregon's most eclectic towns. Here is how every season of Portlandia stacks up.
8 Season 7 (Not Scored)
Season 7 of Portlandia didn't receive enough critic ratings to get an official score, however, it did receive an audience score of 65%. The season contained 10 episodes and featured guest appearances by comedians including Kumail Nanjiani, Andy Richter, Rachel Dratch, and Vanessa Bayer.
While some viewers found that the show felt a bit worn out by the time its seventh season came along, others thought this set of episodes breathed new life into the comedy. It returned to the sketch-driven format of early seasons rather than the story-driven format of later ones. We're a fan of all the setups, as long as we're getting the hipster comedy we've grown to love.
7 Season 6 (Not Scored)
Season 6 also didn't get enough critic ratings to rack in an official score. However, it still managed to pull a slightly higher 73% audience score.
This was one of the seasons that was heavily narrative-driven. And while some people missed the mishmashed sketches, others loved watching the festivals, relationships, and hipster lifestyles play part in a bigger picture. We also can't argue with the guest appearances by Zoë Kravitz and Louis C.K. And did we mention it's even weirder than the seasons before it?
6 Season 8 (88%)
The final season of Portlandia brought in an 88% Tomatometer score and a close 77% audience score.
While some felt the series had outlived its heyday, others believed Season 8 reminded viewers of why they liked the show in the first place. After all, it was stocked with all the quirky situations it had become known for, poking fun at things like true crime podcasts, dating apps, and punk bands.
Fans were sad to see the show go but were, of course, glad to give it one final run.
5 Season 3 (88%)
While Season 3 also received an 88% critic score, it pulled in a higher 89% audience rating.
Critics loved this season for harping on the niche indie audience it attempted to simultaneously make fun of and praise. It found what was culturally relevant at the time and overlayed it with smart humor.
While some viewers thought this season marked the beginning of a slow decline, most instead believed that Armisen and Brownstein had grown comfortable in their roles, and therefore were able to develop their characters to the max.
4 Season 1 (89%)
The opening season of Portlandia contained only six episodes, but boy, did they leave a mark. The Tomatometer score turned up at 89% while the audience score ranked in at 76%.
Season 1 gave the sketch comedy a chance to figure out what it was. While there were viewers who criticized this, others loved watching Brownstein and Armisen determine all the weird and wonderful places they could take Portlandia.
Armisen took his exaggerated characters from SNL to a whole new level and rather than trying to push the funny-factor, both actors let the laughs come naturally through their subtle and strange comedic style.
3 Season 2 (100%)
Portlandia's second season took in a perfect 100% Tomatometer score and an 84% audience rating. Viewers praised the new surprises and the strength of each sketch individually. Additionally, critics noted that the writing was solid and the moments were funnier. It seemed Portlandia had found its stride.
It's also worth noting that guest appearances from performers like Andy Samberg, Jack McBrayer, and Ed Begley Jr. further helped attract comedy fans. It was clear from this season that there would be many more to come.
2 Season 5 (100%)
Season 5 also nabbed itself a perfect critic score, while its audience score ranked in at 87%. This season saw Brownstein's character facing the struggles of Rideshare, Armisen's character identifying as a male feminist, and their combined eco-terrorist group taking down SeaWorld. In other words, yes, it did have all the quirky indie flavor of the seasons before it.
This season's humor became wider while the characters grew more expansive. The show continued to grow into its strange but compelling skin, ultimately creating something that viewers just couldn't look away from.
1 Season 4 (100%)
The highest-rated season of Portlandia on Rotten Tomatoes took in a 100% critic score and an 87% audience score. However, with many more critics and casual viewers weighing in on this season's rating than the former, it is ultimately ranking higher on our list.
This sweet middle spot of the series contained 10 of the most eclectic episodes on television. It was praised for its rich comedy that also managed to cross the line into social commentary.
The supporting characters also received larger roles in this season, and star cameos from Jeff Goldblum, Maya Rudolph, and Kirsten Dunst definitely didn't hurt that. All in all, Season 4's self-awareness brought out the series' greatest strengths.