Quietly launching on Netflix late last week was a new Japanese drama series The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House. It is exactly the sort of TV drama that you will hear trendy TV critics raising as an under-the-radar TV gem.

What you need to understand is: the show is really very good.

This quiet, adult drama is about two teenage girls who opt against high school in favor of moving to Kyoto to pursue a career as a geisha. Very quickly, it becomes apparent that one of them has what it takes, but a new path is revealed for the other.

Hirokazu Kore-eda is the key creative behind the adaptation of the manga series it is based on. He is interviewed about the series for The Hollywood Reporter.

When I interviewed one of the Okami-sans, the former house mothers, they told me that a lot of the foreigners who visit them have seen Memoirs of a Geisha and their understanding of geisha have been totally shaped by that film. So they assume all of the girls were sold to the house because of a poor upbringing, or that they are there out of desperation. And my own knowledge of Geisha, basically, had been shaped by Mizoguchi, who told very sad stories back in his day too.

But then in real life, when I was doing my research and went to the Hanamachi (a district where Geisha live and work), the people I met there were very enthusiastic about this tradition and it was something that they had actively sought out.
Hirokazu Kore-eda on Exploring World of Japanese Geisha for Netflix Series ‘The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House’
The Palme d’Or winning auteur interviewed real-life working geisha in Kyoto as part of his preparation for the series: “I realized I didn’t have any idea how Geiko and Maiko actually live their lives in the present day.”

How did they get Harrison Ford to do Shrinking?

I'm not sure if I am under a review embargo for new Apple TV+ show Shrinking, so I won't say much about the show itself beyond just casually mentioning that usually when writing offering a review for a show I will watch 1-3 episodes of it (depending on what is available), but I can probably mention that I have seen the first 9 of 10 episodes of this one. Draw your own conclusion...

The big question most of you will have watching this ensemble comedy is: How on earth did they get Harrison Ford to sign up to do the show? Apparently, they just asked.

Ford: “Hey, this is a really good script. Will I be in the second one more?” Lawrence, his voice cracking: “You can be in it as much as you want.” Ford: “Who else is in it?” Lawrence: “I’ll have Jason Segel call you.” Ford: “Who’s Jason Segel?” Lawrence: “Uh, I’ll send you some movies first.”
What ‘Shrinking,’ ‘Ted Lasso’ & ‘Scrubs’ All Share, According to Brett Goldstein & Bill Lawrence
Plus, how they got Harrison Ford to do his first comedy.
  • Netflix started streaming 15 years ago. Read: The Verge
  • RIP Al Brown. The Wire actor was 83. Read: TV Insider
  • Here's Deadline pitching the Oscars voters to nominate sequel blockbuster films. Read: Deadline
  • Here's The AV Club pitching the Oscars voters to nominate sequel blockbuster films. Read: The AV Club
  • Denmark's Agent (an adaptation of Call My Agent), Australia's Bad Behaviour, and the US show Spy/Master are all competing at Berlinale. Read: Variety
  • Warner Bros Discovery and the EBU have landed the Olympics rights for Europe. Read: Deadline
  • Sky in the UK are offering Discovery+ for free to subscribers for a year. Read: THR
  • 7Bravo, an Aussie TV channel programmed largely with NBC Universal programs, has launched. Read: Variety
  • Once current contracts end, Jeremy Clarkson will no longer be producing new seasons of The Grand Tour for Amazon Prime Video. Read: Deadline

That's it for today. Tomorrow... I'd expect more newsletter.