HBO’S ‘ GIRLS’ GOES TO JA­PAN ‘SUMIMASEN!’

Chicago Sun-Times - - LIFE - Pa­trick Ryan

Shoshanna Shapiro has fi­nally un­locked the mys­tery of who she is.

“That I’m se­cretly a Ja­panese per­son,” says Zosia Ma met ,28, whose Girls char­ac­ter this sea­son takes a mar­ket­ing job in Tokyo, where she’s seen in Sun­day’ s episode of the HBO com­edy (10 p.m. ET/ PT ). Shosh is “a very quirky, spe­cific in­di­vid­ual, and the way that Ja­panese cul­ture em­braces that makes her feel at ease. She feels like she’s spread­ing her Ja­panese wings.”

“She’s spread­ing her Ja­panese wings!” sings Satur­day Night Live star Aidy Bryant, 28, who re­turns as Shosh’s Amer­i­can- based boss, Abi­gail. “If you could re­ally push that song, that’d be great. It’s ac­tively been dis­missed here.” Mamet quips: “Yeah, Ja­panese charts are lov­ing it, but it hasn’t quite hit here yet.”

Now in its fifth sea­son, Girls fol­lows the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional mis­ad­ven­tures of four hap­less twen­tysome­things in New York ( played by Mamet, Al­li­son Wil­liams, Jemima Kirke and cre­ator Lena Dun­ham). To­ward the end of last sea­son, Dun­ham and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Jenni Kon­ner told Mamet that they were con­sid­er­ing send­ing Shosh to Ja­pan, af­ter the char­ac­ter’s failed at­tempts at land­ing a job and re­unit­ing with ex- boyfriend Ray ( Alex Kar­povsky).

“At that point, it was like, ‘ Right, but we’d never go to Ja­pan,’ ” Mamet says. “Next sea­son, it’d be like, ‘ Oh, no, in­stead we sent you to Jersey!’ ”

Even­tu­ally, Mamet and a small crew went to Tokyo for nearly three weeks last sum­mer. Bryant tagged along for the sweaty so­journ.

“It was true friend­ship, be­cause it’s 99% hu­mid­ity there in the sum­mer,” Bryant says. “It’s like be­ing in­side of a mouth— it’s re­ally rough.”

Some of their scenes were shot guer­ril­lastyle on bustling Takeshita Street, a food and shop­ping mecca that Mamet de­scribes as “Times Square in an al­ley.” Shosh vis­its a fetish club with a po­ten­tial love in­ter­est ( Hiro Mizushima) and a day spa where she and Abby get fish pedi­cures, which are ex­actly as un­pleas­ant as they sound.

“You put your feet into a lit­tle fish tank and the fish eat the dead skin,” Bryant says, cring­ing. “When I saw pic­tures of it, I just as­sumed they were lit­tle sucker fish who’d skim your foot and suck away, but you can feel them chomp.”

The visit was their first to Asia, and their Ja­panese vo­cab­u­lary is still lack­ing.

“The only thing I re­mem­ber is ‘ Kawaii!’ It’s like, cute, but it’s ex­tra cute,” Mamet says.

Adds Bryant, “My fa­vorite and only thing I learned was ‘ Sumimasen!’ which means, ‘ Ex­cuse me, I’m sorry.’ Ba­si­cally ev­ery­where I went, I was like, ‘ Sumimasen! I need to go to the bath­room!’ ”

TODD PLITT, USA TO­DAY

Aidy Bryant, left, guest- stars with Zosia Mamet on Girls.

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