I’ve just consumed the latest installment of Terrace House, a very nice two-night binge thank you Netflix. Terrace House (for those of you in the non-know) is a fly-on-the-wall style Japanese reality show that documents (supposedly without the aid of scripts or story-line nudging) the lives of 6 young people (ages 19 to 32 ish) as they go about their daily lives.
The focus of the show is, of course, who likes who and the budding romances that invariably develop, but the inhabitants also discuss career goals, or, for the younger ones, the lack of them. To make things more interesting, the reality-action is punctuated by a chorus of observers, official voyeurs who (for the most part) serve up witty quips and intelligent observations about human behaviour.
As with all reality TV shows, the casting is predictable – all inhabitants are good-looking and one or two of them usually work as models, and there is also usually a amateur/professional sports person in the mix – a skater or snowboarder, and generally male, but, in the last season, this role was filled by Tsubasa, a female ice-hockey player who is faced with the dilemma of choosing between her old team, or joining a new one with better prospects.
Tsubasa, (not your average girly girl but altogether very lovely) is thoroughly engrossed in her training throughout the show. She trains till late in the evening and often misses the healthy sit-down meals lovingly prepared at the house. She is a shy but cheerful young woman, and she catches the eye of Shion, a very sweet being (and male model) who asks her on a date.
Their friendship grows slowly and we don’t know…will it morph into something more? It does. Eventually. But in the meantime he supports her dreams and goals. Is thoughtful. Kind. Goes to watch her compete (at the mostly empty stadium) Watches her zoom around the ice with a look of undisguised awe. He stands and claps and cheers her on – he doesn’t feel inferior or exhibit signs of emasculation, no Tsubasa’s great skill makes her attractive to him.
It’s great to see this on TV – a guy feeling comfortable in the role of admirer and supporter instead of the admired and supported, and we need more of it. Guys cheering girls on – and women (young and old) need to do less watching and admiring and find something they like to DO, and DO it. That’s what guys do. They DO things, whether it’s snowboarding or gaming, they DO stuff.
Of course the aim is the same for boys and girls (in hetro terms) Both strive to be attractive to get themselves a mate, but in their pursuit of sex/love, boys get to learn something that’s a satisfaction in itself – regardless of whether it gets them a girl or not. They play guitar, they pull out a skateboard…but a girl thinks that what makes her most attractive to boys is the very passive activity of looking good, and looking good per se does not sustain the soul. And despite being taught that there are no limits these days, I think girls still worry that being too smart or good at something will turn the boys off.
Which is why the delightful love story of Shion and Tsubasa is so important. It shows that girls that DO are attractive too, and that boys cheering them on is just part of the deal.