Brow Beat

This Portlandia Sketch Just Might Be the Most Perfect, Spot-On Parody of True Crime Podcasts

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein know a thing or two about mining comedic gold out of the nerdiest and most idiosyncratic subjects, which helps explain why their new sketch, “NPR Podcast,” is pretty much perfect. The conceit is simple: Armisen (noted Ira Glass doppelgänger) is Darren Blum and Brownstein is Dana Bloom, and this is “Forgotten America: Rural Footprints,” a true crime podcast following the local precinct’s investigation of a murder. (Brought to you by Blue Apron, of course.)

Like any great parody, the glory is in the details: The hosts’ soft, monotone timbre interjecting blatant personal biases around the details of the case; the sympathetic yet unintentionally condescending descriptors of its subjects (“It’s important to remember that many of these cops are poor, uneducated, and bad at their jobs”); the folksy, plinking banjo and violin instrumentations. For anyone who’s listened to the polarizing S-Town—or its likeminded forebears and descendants—this is for you.

The final season of Portlandia drops Jan. 18 on IFC.