It’s the final episode! Will it redeem the other three? Or will it just be a weird hodgepodge of odd jokes, bad wigs, condescension, sexual moments with a toilet, and the possible madness of the wife? Read on and find out.
Home Sweet Tokyo, Episode 04: Family Night Out
writers: BJ Fox and Teruyuki Yoshida
director: Teruyuki Yoshida
I should be grateful that the show at least let the husband know how to use chopsticks. And that is about all this episode had going for it. Okay, fine. There were also hints, tiny though they were, of genuine moments surrounding the grandfather. But don’t worry, the show squandered them.
Spoilers Lurk Below
The show starts with a flashback to eight years ago and our point of view character is wearing a bad wig. A terrible wig. And it is still better than what is going on in the show around it. The grandfather is ordering stuff that he thinks will be unpleasant for his soon to be son in law. He wants to show him Japanese culture. I don’t think the show understands that they are demonstrating how common power harassment can be.
I’ll be fair. If this show were better written and acted there is a garden of humor to be tended in the “odd” eating habits of any culture. As a southerner I’ve had friends gag at eating grits, which to me shows how nuts they are. This show even acknowledges that a little bit by bringing up kidney pies and haggis and I’m assuming the wife brings it up because the husband enjoys them. But, rather than toying with this trope, the show decides to keep things shallow and to stay well within the realm of stereotypes that Japan is comfortable with. “foreigners have a hard time with these foods.” And, yes, some people do. I’ll admit to not being a fan to most of what was on display, although I will joy down on some jellyfish if it is seasoned right.
But when the main character is continuously a product of every stereotype, is bumbling and ignorant, and behaves almost like a child, we have a problem. This entire episode he only existed to be scolded and told off. The man wasn’t even allowed to order the type of ice cream he likes. And why? So the audience could be shown he doesn’t even know what azuki is and so the show could end on the joke that he likes it.
Really, it is just tiring.
All of the flaws that were present in the first episode are on full display here. A lack of affection between husband and wife and a surplus of scolding. A monstrously ignorant individual from the husband after spending at least 8 years of his life married to a woman from that culture.
I could go on and on and on about all the things that make this show fail, but in the end I suppose you could say its chief crime as an entertainment vehicle is that it is not funny. At all. Bad writing, bad performances, and the reality that the main source of the attempts at humor is in pointing out how this foreigner, as a stand in for foreigners in general, fails to understand even the basic notions of Japan.
As a final indictment against this show as poorly made, lets look at that final toilet scene. Our hero is sitting on the toilet with his pants on. He stands up. Takes his pants down and immediately starts to spray water on his butt while smiling. The way this is put together there was no time for him to actually use the toilet. He is simply getting off on the sensation of water up his butt. Which is fine if that is how he gets his kicks. But I wish he would do it at home instead of at a restaurant.
I could be sensitive. After all, I’ve lived in Japan for over a decade. I’m married and have a child. I’m one of those people who get annoyed at “foreigner panic” and shifts to English in stores when I am talking to the clerk in Japanese. A lot of my dislike for this show stems from it being just another bit of media where the point is made that “foreigners can’t understand Japan.” It had a chance to do some good, and try and make something new. There was the hope that since the co-creator and co-writer was actually from London and apparently performs in Japanese (I’ve read but can’t confirm) that there might be more to this show. Instead, it is more of the same. I don’t want to say BJ Fox is a sell out. I don’t know his story. I don’t know how much control he actually had. All I can really say is this show was a disappointment. And, just like before, it can be streamed from the NHK world site.
You can also read my reviews for episode 01, 02 and 03.
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One thought on “Grumpy Bird Reviews: Home Sweet Tokyo Ep 4 Family Night Out”
No arguments from me. I really wanted to like this show but its so difficult. The guy has a daughter and wife and for some reason acts as though he knows absolutely nothing about the Japanese culture. This isn’t about trying to be purist or anything, but something a little more believable would be nice. Having lived in Japan, I have met people that have lived there 20 years and do not speak any Japanese beyond simple greetings and tourist pleasantries. However, they still understand basic culture norms.
I supposed this show was probably not meant for me to watch.