This whole post is a spoiler, so don't read it if you don't want it spoiled.
I just finished watching this show called Tokyo Girl on Netflix. I started watching it because I've been to Japan and it was interesting to remember Tokyo and even rural Japan, and hear Japanese - it's subtitles only. Anyways, the story is about a girl who grows up in rural Japan but strikes out to find her fortune in Tokyo and try to make it big in the big city.
The whole thing reads like an AWALT playbook though. Career first, ride the CC, become a sugar baby, alpha widowhood, hit the wall, biological clock screaming for a baby that never comes, cougar mode. It's basically the story of a rudderless woman who is seeking the glorious have-it-all life that her society is telling her she can have. She's always going for the next thing, the next job, the next man, the next milestone, but constantly coming up short, empty, disappointed, or hollow. Maybe she finds some happiness at the end. But will it last?
It's interesting in that it has these short aside monologues from different people in the show. And some of those monologues glorify feminism and the career woman, and others question whether it really makes women happy. Is traditionalism better?
It's also interesting because it shows some variations on how feminism is infecting and ruining a different society than our own. Like the equivalent of clubbing and hookups is apparently these polished, formal dinner/drinking parties where everyone drinks sake and presumably can hook up and go home with whoever.
What got me to write about this show though was this dialog in Episode 7, which I thought was just too on point not to share with you guys, it made me laugh. Someone over there has their eyes open at least a little bit.
(Aya is the main character in this show.)
Aya: For any woman, there's a biological limit to have a baby. Therefore, before waking up from the shock on my 33rd birthday, I've set my life goal as being married. Once my objective is set, I'd use any means to achieve it. Once you have more friends who are married than are single, there are hardly any group dates. Instead of waiting to meet someone randomly, I registered with a marriage consultancy.
(Aya is standing all alone and ignored at a dating event where everyone else is paired off and chatting.)
Aya: I've learned about the first-class items, and polished myself over and over. So I must be in great demand with many men to choose from. Why is this happening to me?
Marriage Consultancy Specialist: Those gentlemen who are registered in a marriage consultancy care very much about a woman's age. Those gentlemen who wish to start a family, they tend to favor reproductive capacity in women, more than their appearance or social skills. It may sound a bit harsh for women who've worked so hard for their career, but unfortunately that's the reality. How about lowering your expectations?
Aya: Lowering my expectations. What I'm asking for is someone in their 30s, with the annual salary of 10 million yen (currently $92,000), and more than 175 centimeters (about 5'9"). Only those three things.
Marriage Consultancy Specialist: (laughs) Men with such qualifications are all targeted by younger women. Some of them have just graduated.
Aya: Just graduated! It's not job hunting.
Marriage Consultancy Specialist: No, it actually is. Those who come to us are always well-prepared, just like for job hunting. And, I'd like to give you a piece of advice. You should perhaps reconsider what you're wearing.
Aya: Oh, right. What do you think is wrong with this?
Marriage Consultancy Specialist: You're wearing things that are easily spotted as expensive. It's like you're telling the world you'll splurge and are high-maintenance. Most of the ladies here spend money on less noticeable things, such as silky skin or shiny hair. And your nail polish, it's a fashion-forward style, isn't it? It might be better to apply something more refreshing, such as beige. And your hair. I know you can't put it up (it's a chin-length cut in the show) but try to make it a bit more cheery and feminine. How can I put it? Honestly, your style is somewhat appealing for women, like you're a gung-ho career woman. But maybe you should adopt a style that is more appealing to men's tastes.
There's definitely a lot of feminist nonsense put forward in the show though. Like one woman who divorces her rich husband to start the florist shop she always wanted and who says:
So here's what I think. It's not so important that a husband be attractive. But he should put great importance on what his wife wants to do.
A man who becomes Aya's husband saying:
I have dreams and things I want to do. But my wife has dreams too. I want to make it as my objective to make her dreams come true. (But it later turns out he got this line from a book on how to pick up a wife, and doesn't believe this at all.)
And there are some moments that challenge the feminist nonsense, at least a little:
Aya: Since childhood, I believed that my life story would turn out to be wonderful and romantic. But recently, I've realized that it is, in fact, quite normal. Instead of being the one and only protagonist of the story, it feels as if I've become one of the extras. But I'm pretty happy. For so long I worked hard to become someone. But isn't it also okay to be one of the extras? If you get rid of your pride, this life should be very happy.
But her revelation is transitory because she dives right back in to not being happy with what's she's got.
In Episode 9, in her mid 30s, Aya wants a baby but marital discord (her husband really wants a homemaker wife) derails those plans:
Aya: There are a number of women who can have babies. But there are only a few of them who can push projects forward while making their own decisions at a first-rate company. Shouldn't that be enough? But, being born a woman, what does it mean not to have a baby?
Flashback to her Mother: Ever since we were kids, women tend to want what others have. That's how we grow up while keeping pace with other people.
Aya: (sobs while signing divorce paperwork to husband who is now having a child with another woman)
It also demonstrates hypergamy in action, and addresses the general materialistic desire for more and better stuff and lifestyle. Actually, the title/credits image for the show is a bunch of immaculately arranged stuff. So it's hypergamy and "build bigger storehouses" and "eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die" kind of behavior.
Man speaking: The grass is always greener on the other side. Larger. And excruciatingly more beautiful.
Aya: In this town where you're constantly being exposed to something better, those greedy women such as myself, while never being fully satisfied with the happiness in front of them, will keep convincing themselves that things are completely fine, and will keep walking ahead, step by step, ... For those greedy women who don't know when enough is enough, if you can taste the pinch of jealousy as the spice of your life that means you've truly become an urban woman. Let's do our best, shall we? What we want to obtain in life just keeps increasing anyways.
So I guess it's also a treatise on female discontent. She kind of ends up a little happy at the end of the show, but also there is a melancholy and wistfulness to it at times, where she realizes if she had stayed with the first man she loved, she might have been happy. But because of FOMO, and unwillingness to accept the "small happiness" she had found when there might be a bigger, brighter happiness out there if she just kept trading up, she really lost out on a lot.
It's definitely not Eat, Pray, Love, way more honest than that, and interesting because of it.