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Sunday, May 27, 2001

CHANNEL SURF

Who says that women can't have it all?

Several weeks ago, this column covered TBS's romantic comedy series "Love Story," in which Miho Nakayama plays a not-so-successful book editor whose employer tries to force her to quit by assigning her to its most difficult author. Though, as with all "trendy dramas," this one is mainly about love, Nakayama's role as a career woman is what attracts the desired demographic.

In fact, the concept that a fulfilling career and a full love life are not mutually exclusive ideas seems to be the dominant theme for this season's drama series. Almost every night of the week you can find a show whose heroine is struggling with the work she does and the man she loves . . . or thinks she loves. fffdc Monday -- Since there are more women than men attending university in Japan right now, it's only natural that more women will be going on to and graduating from medical school. Nevertheless, Kyoko (Makiko Esumi), the heroine of "Love Revolution" (Fuji TV, 9 p.m.), seems a little young to be a full-fledged heart surgeon at a major Tokyo hospital. Not only that, but she is being considered for a prestigious teaching position at a university.

Despite her shining career succes, Kyoko has man problems. Her TV-reporter fiance, Suga, is told of Kyoko's job offer by a female rival who wants him to herself. Having expected Kyoko to quit her job and join him after he is transferred to Washington, Suga breaks the engagement. In this week's episode, Kyoko impulsively quits her hospital job and dashes off to the airport to try to get Suga to take her back, but a medical emergency stops her and . . . Tuesday -- Most people think of bar hostessing as a job in which unskilled women of almost any age can earn good money quickly, though, considering what the work entails (getting men drunk and making them feel good about themselves), it isn't considered a very prestigious one.

In "Shin Omizu no Hanamichi" (Fuji TV, 9 p.m.), Ayumi, a hostess who works at a bar in Roppongi called Paradise, is made famous by a magazine that runs an article about her. Now the bar is packed, and its senior hostess, Akina (Naomi Zaizen), is kept busy supporting Ayumi's star status. In this week's episode, a former hostess who is now a successful career woman visits Paradise while trying to hide her past. Believe it or not, the producers call this a comedy. fffdc Wednesday -- Taking care of guests is traditionally a woman's job, and tonight two competing dramas present young women who have been essentially thrust into serving roles against their will.

"Yome wa Mitsuboshi (Three-star Bride)" (TBS, 10 p.m.) stars Yoshino Kimura as Miyuki, a young woman who is forced to celebrate her wedding all by herself because her husband is suddenly transferred indefinitely to Africa. Though not terribly shaken by her new spouse's departure, Miyuki is soon forced to take over as the waka-okusan (young mistress) of his family's eel restaurant -- despite the fact that she's never worked in her life and can't even boil water -- after the death of her mother-in-law. In Wednesday's episode, some relatives bring her a souvenir of umeboshi (pickled plums), which, according to superstition, do not go with eel.

On the same night at 9 p.m. on Fuji TV, you can see Arisa Mizuki go through pretty much the same motions in "Watashi o Ryokan ni Tsuretette (Take Me to the Inn)." Kanzaki plays Rinko, whose handsome new husband dies a month after they wed, leaving her in charge of his inn, which she immediately learns is not doing well at all. Whereas "Yome" is mostly about the heroine's interactions with her new family, "Ryokan" is mostly about Rinko's interactions with her new "family" of employees. In this week's installment, a mysterious female guest checks in and asks the staff to not tell anyone she is staying there, thus giving rise to rumors about her deep, dark secrets. fffdc Friday -- On the surface, Akari (Norika Fujiwara) in "Mukashi no Otoko (The Old Boyfriend)" (TBS, 10 p.m.) seems to have a great sales position at a prestigious jewelry store. However, she suffers from an inferiority complex, since she knows that she got the position because she is an attractive young woman whose beauty looks good on the sales floor. Privately, she's conflicted, too, since she is having an on-again, off-again relationship with an old boyfriend who is now unhappily married. And you think you have troubles.



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