Oregon TV

Grimm Assessment: The show that cried “Portland” doesn’t deliver.

Now that "Grimm"'s here to stay, let's talk about where the story's going—and whether Portland can, in good faith, follow.

Recently, Willamette Week’s Jay Horton broke the local media’s code of congeniality and criticized the Portland-set, Portland-shot, constantly-Portland-referencing TV thriller “Grimm,” claiming that the show’s supposed hometown doesn’t take it seriously. At best, he said, we view the show as a sort of Name That Place trivia game, spotting the familiar scenic landmarks that wink in and out of frame while trying to ignore the amateur storytelling in the foreground. He was harsh. He was broad. But he had a point.

How dare you! screamed some of the comment thread. But how much of that hue and cry can defend the show’s specifics, and how much is just based on the belief that having a TV show in town is neat?

Up ’til now, the local media’s gone easy on “Grimm” because we didn’t want to jinx it.  After all, the show employs a lot of creative locals and likely boosts our regional economy. We all have friends who’ve worked on it, and we’re glad they got the gig. In my various critique forums, I personally have never lied about loving “Grimm,” but I’ve skirted giving strong opinions, favoring interviews, mentions, and mere acknowledgements that the show exists. Rather than panning it, Portland as a whole has rooted for “Grimm” to get renewed, to keep our creative friends in work.

But now that the series has fully fledged, kicking off its third season with a reportedly growing following…a detailed critique is long overdue. I’ve personally watched every episode of “Grimm” so far, all the while grasping and scraping for some kind of intellectual or philosophical traction, clinging to the few good ideas that emerged and subsided…but the show keeps disappointing me. And if I have to roll my eyes any further or bite my tongue any harder, I may hurt myself.

I’d hate for “Grimm” to go away. Heck, I’ll be happier if it becomes the next “Star Trek,” spinning on for decades and syndicating into untold frontiers. But if that happens, here’s guessing the die-hard Grimmies of the future will write off these first three seasons as the Dark Ages before the show really got its act together. Portland viewers might as well admit that this whole time, we’ve been laughing behind our hands.


Oregon ArtsWatch Archives