St. Vincent Kills It on Portlandia, Scores Victory for Female Musicians Everywhere

by Amy Carlberg

With the event of increasingly female-centric TV programs like Broad City and Girls, more often than usual we find ourselves yelling passionately at the screen, “Yes! Yes! That’s exactly how it is!” That’s the power of representation, and the reason it matters. Individuals who never feel kinship with what they see in media can wind up with a nasty sense of isolation. Seeing people with whom I can identify represented on TV makes me feel more comfortable with myself in general, because I don’t feel like I need to hide anything about myself to be accepted. 

Carrie Brownstein brings female representation in Portlandia’s leading roles up to 50% as one half of the show’s powerhouse comedy duo (Fred Armisen is the other half). But when St. Vincent appeared in a sketch on a recent episode, frankly, I lost my shit.


When I see St. Vincent on Portlandia I definitely think “that’s me,” not because I have a silver space afro, or can shred on guitar, but because I’ve been in her position so many times–trying to make sure I’ve got all my expensive personal equipment together after a show while being grilled by some rando. Fred Armisen is perfect as the creep in question. He’s exactly like every guy I’ve ever had come up to me and start talking about music as if they know more than I do without even bothering to try and find out first. They ask incessant questions, all designed not to inform themselves but to show off their own knowledge. 

Armisen takes this to a ridiculous extent, the equipment he references ever more obvious, and his expertise ever less convincing. The result is laugh-out-loud funny, but more than that, it’s eye-opening. Guys, if we just played a show and you didn’t, and if you’re going to give your expert opinion, it’ll probably end up feeling for us a lot like you’re telling the bus driver where to go. Music is a job. We don’t come to yours and tell you how to do it. 

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