Sporadic Happiness (in Japan!)

(formerly) updated every Wednesday

#24 Mad Men

Chances are you’ve heard of this show.

It’s been around for a while. Currently they’re in the middle of their 5th season.

I started watching this show back in the US, and thought it was amazing. I had stopped somewhere in the 3rd season but didn’t remember where, so when I got back into it in Japan I watched beginning Season 3, episode 1.

One of the shows strengths is that it has so much going on. All of the characters are so complex and interesting, and there’s a lot of main characters that they rotate through. Of course, Don Draper tends to get central focus.

I convinced my boyfriend to watch Mad Men too and he obviously began at Season 1, episode 1. I often feel like I can never get too much Mad Men, so I’ve been re-watching some episodes with him. There are so many little details and little happenings I had forgotten which made everything feel fresh and new even on the second time through. And of course it’s interesting to have knowledge of what will come and see how that relates to how characters were before. This is definitely a show with rewatchability.

My one recommendation is to watch the show with someone, whether sitting together and watching it, or watching it separately (though keeping up with each other), because it can be nice to have someone to talk about it with. I often want to talk to my boyfriend about certain happenings or character developments, but alas he’s still on season 3 and I’m on season 5, and anyone who has kept up with show knows that a LOT has changed between then.

The show is a drama, so it often tugs at your heartstrings and plays with your emotions. It’s definitely more of a deep, thinking show than entertainment, though for me being in Japan, watching anything in American English is relaxing and entertaining.

I highly recommend this drama to anyone who likes dramas or period pieces (it takes place in the early 1960s). The clothes, houses, buildings, and characters’ attitudes are definitely dated, and the show tends to tie in real historical events that are happening at the time too, which makes for a very compelling world.

I heard that it has been renewed for a 6th season, and that there will likely be a 7th season as well, which would be the last.

Check it out!

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#13 ASL (Alphabet) – Switched at Birth

Living in Japan I often like to spend my evenings watching American TV shows.  It gives me that feeling of “home” and is the best way to relax after a long day of constantly hearing and interacting in Japanese.

A TV show I’ve gotten interested in and have been watching recently is called Switched at Birth.

Switched at Birth: Volume One

Now this concept is nothing new.  In fact I had started watching a Korean Drama long ago with the same concept.  Actually in trying to research just now what the name of that drama is (I forgot), I found there are MANY Korean dramas with this concept.  And probably many shows worldwide – it’s a common “TV trope.”

Usually this trope has one kid coming from a rich background, and one from a poor background, and at some point the kids (or the families) find out the two kids in question (often girls) had been switched at the hospital when they were born, and ended up being raised in a different family.  Of course once they find out about this “mistake,” the kids (usually teenagers or young adults) want to get to know their biological parents, as well as try to figure out what life would have been like if they’d been raised by their biological parents.  This often brings up questions of opportunity (wealth and many opportunities vs. not having access to as much) as well as other culture and identity issues.

Now the TV show I’ve been watching has these aspects, but it also has another interesting twist.  One of the girls (in her switched family) contracted meningitis at the age of 3 and nearly went deaf.  She has minor hearing, but she relies on reading lips and sign language.

As a lover of languages in general, watching this show is making me more interested in ASL (American Sign Language).  Although the one hard of hearing girl can talk, there are other completely deaf characters on the show who can’t or don’t want to speak and use sign language pretty exclusively.  Of course there are English subtitles to follow what they are saying.

In any case, I’ve found it interesting enough to try and pick up a little bit myself, and my first baby step has been to learn the ASL alphabet.

Here’s a neat video with a song that, for me anyway, is pleasant enough to listen a few times through that teaches the hand signs for each letter at a slow enough speed:

Once I master the alphabet I intend to try and learn more signs; in our internet day and age there seem to be plenty of sites out there.  If anyone has any recommendations though, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Besides the signing aspect and slice of life tidbits in terms of deaf culture, the Switched at Birth show has another thing going for it.

It’s full of beautiful people!  Maybe this sounds vain, but c’mon, who DOESN’T like vicariously watching the lives of gorgeous people?

Plus there’s multicultural aspects to the show, such as one of the moms being Hispanic and one of the biological dads being some Italian/French guy who is pretty adorable:

He also reminds me of a friend back home (Mita-kun that’s you!).

Also side note, I recently found out that Portland Community College (PCC) has ASL classes!  As I will be moving to Portland in September I think I want to try one out. I’m excited for that.

But in the mean time, there is still Japan to explore, and many wonderful internet goodies to enjoy!

Check out this TV show if you get a chance.

A DVD (Volume 1) has now been released. I highly recommend it!
Switched at Birth: Volume One

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