With Portlandia, Grimm, and the last season of Leverage all taking place in our fair city, Portland seems to have become a hot setting for TV shows. Why are we getting so much attention now, after decades of neglect?
While I normally like to begin my columns by taking a dump all over the questioner's premise, in this case I'm compelled to admit that you have a point. By my count, at least seven Portland-set shows have already aired in this young decade.
The accepted answer to your question is that the Oregon Governor's Office of Film & Television has been hustling like a mad bitch to get shows to shoot here—and if you're shooting here, you might as well set the show here, too, so you don't have to explain what a Voodoo Doughnut is doing in the middle of Waco, Texas.
Still, I take umbrage at your contention that this is somehow a new development. Who could forget, aside from everybody, Under Suspicion, whose late-1994 to early-1995 run galvanized the nation?* And in 1991, there was something called Sons and Daughters, which was apparently so bad the Internet has agreed never to speak of it again.
But these all pale before the granddaddy of all Portland TV shows, 1979's Hello, Larry. For two seasons, McLean Stevenson would visibly regret leaving M*A*S*H as a radio host who relocates to the Northwest to build a new life after his divorce. (Yes, that was also the premise of Frasier. TV is weird.)
Rated the 12th-worst show of all time by TV Guide, Hello, Larry was created by the same folks who brought us the 1975 sitcom One Day at a Time, starring Bonnie Franklin, who died last week at 69, as a divorced mom named…Ann Romano! Do the math, Mercury readers.
*Not this nation. Maybe Sri Lanka?