95. Carrie Brownstein

Writer of Actor of Portlandia, How To Be A Social Commentator

95. Carrie Brownstein

“[Costar] Fred Armisen and I are obsessed with the minutiae of a situation. What is fomenting the most discomfort in a relationship? It’s usually where someone’s belief system kind of goes off the rails. That’s where we want to start exploring, because that moment is where you feel almost your worst. You become aware of all the inherent contradictions, all the ways that you’re in conflict with your environment. That’s where we start.


Fred and I spent our formative years in indie rock. An in-group/out-group dynamic was pervasive in those communities. A set of esoteric rules that seemed impossible to follow permeated the entire subculture, so that something that should have seemed very inclusive ended up feeling highly exclusive. Most of the characters that Fred and I play are the ones who are coming up with those constantly changing rules–like the feminist bookstore owners. Or we’re the people trying to make sense of the rules, who are so cut off by the rules that we kill ourselves to follow them. Or we end up being contrarians, and the thing we thought we were going to embrace we end up rejecting.

I understand the impulse that there are just so many things to figure out–with recycling, say, and in a moment of pique you’re just like, “I’m done. I’m done. Here, I littered.” That’s when you see somebody’s true colors, the part of them that is struggling to make sense of things, that is vulnerable, still childlike, and where the anger isn’t as in-check as they thought.”


  • 1994

    Is the guitarist and vocalist for the riot girl band Sleater Kinney

  • 2004

    Writes numerous pop culture figure profiles, including ones on Eddie Vedder and Cheryl Hines, for The Believer magazine

  • 2006

    Earns a spot on Rolling Stone‘s list of the “25 Most Underrated Guitarists of All-Time” as their highest-rated female guitarist

  • 2010

    Sings and plays guitar for Wild Flag, a supergroup made up of former members of Sleater Kinney, Helium and The Minders

  • 2011

    Portlandia debuts on IFC

  • 2012

    Is currently working on a memoir about her life and the current state of music-making called The Sound of Where You Are