Anyone who’s ever lived in Oregon can tell you that the TV series “Portlandia,” which makes fun of the state’s culture of earnest, quirky liberaldom, feels closer to a documentary than a comedy.
The state’s recent political scandal, which ended this week when a new governor was sworn in, has proven that even more true. The months-long debacle played out essentially like one big sketch from the IFC show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.
In a nutshell: John Kitzhaber, Oregon’s denim-wearing governor, resigned after a series of revelations involving his fiancée, Cylvia Hayes, a clean energy activist with a dodgy past.
For those of you just tuning into the Beaver State’s quirky politics, here are six sketches that explain the big scandal.
“The Dream of the ‘90s”
The sketch: A man explains to his friend (in song!) that the 1990s never ended in Portland: “Do you remember the ‘90s? … There’s a place where that idea still exists as a reality.”
The scandal: Kitzhaber was governor during much of the 1990s, then returned to run for two more terms in the 2010s.
“No Grocery Bag”
The sketch: A man forgets his reusable bag while grocery shopping at Zupan’s Markets and the checkout clerks literally don’t know what to do.
The scandal: Kitzhaber and Hayes bonded over their love of sustainable energy. She drew controversy for playing a role in his clean energy policy while running a firm that promotes it.
“Late in Life Drug Use”
The sketch: An older couple decide that it’s never too late to try drugs for the first time, but they do so earnestly: “I want to approach this like we would buy a car.”
The scandal: Hayes and her then-boyfriend bought 60 acres of remote farmland in 1997 that she admits was intended to be a pot farm.
The sketch: Two hipsters meeting with a wedding planner say they want a cool wedding: “I don’t even really believe in marriage that much.”
The scandal: Hayes confessed to entering into an illegal marriage with an Ethiopian immigrant for $5,000 so that he could become a U.S. citizen.
“A Song for Portland”
The sketch: The earnest, absent-minded mayor of Portland commissions two people to write a theme song for the city in an awkward interview.
The scandal: Kitzhaber summoned Secretary of State Kate Brown to return to Oregon, then asked her why she’d come in what she called a “bizarre and unprecedented situation.”
“Disappointing Gay Man”
The sketch: A woman is disappointed when her gay brother turns out to be a total bro who met his boyfriend at an ESPN Zone: “I got totally ripped off on the ‘gay relative’ thing.”
The scandal: Brown, Kitzhaber’s successor, is the first openly bisexual governor. She said her parents once told her “it would be much easier for us if you were a lesbian.”
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