LIGHTHOUSE (2023) Season 1 Review – Japanese talk-show is a shining beacon of goodness

Season 1



Episode Guide

The Dark Age
Tokyo – Light and Darkness-
Christmas Present
Surprise Live
Drive and Determination


Talk shows are usually quite hit or miss. Some have obnoxious hosts that talk over their guests to try and get a cheap laugh or two in. Other times, the format leans so far into comedy and silly games/sketches that you never quite get that golden nugget of information you’re yearning for to learn more about the individual being interviewed.

There are some exceptions of course, shows that manage to blend comedy with insightful discussions together, but they’re certainly a rare breed. And now that the SAG-AFTRA strikes are in full swing over in the US, all of the talk shows coming out of the US have basically stopped. Of course, there’s always international offerings like Graham Norton, but that’s not available worldwide (unless you watch old eps on YouTube of course!)

International streamers Netflix are never one to miss a trick and LIGHTHOUSE is an attempt to try and bridge that gap, bringing the Japanese reality format over to a worldwide audience. The format is simple – two top Japanese performs, singer Gen Hoshimo and talk-show host and comedian Masayasu Wakabayashi meet up once a month for 6 months to discuss their careers, shoot jokes at one another and discuss everything from COVID and mental health to diversity, the pressures of being famous and social media.

Along the way, each episode mixes things up with a completely different setting and a new set of subjects to discuss. Episode 3 takes place on Christmas Day and centers on what the holidays mean for them and the importance of family. Episode 4 meanwhile, switches everything to a live audience format, where the pair discuss COVID and the changing world. This is a constant throughout the series and it’s a nice way of breaking things up.

While there are different topics discussed, the main crux of the show dives deeply into  Wakabayashi and Hoshimo’s careers. Hearing the latter discuss the backlash to him changing his hairstyle, or Wakabayashi having doubts about his career until finding his form in comedy duo Audrey, with partner Toshiaki Kasuga, are just a few stand-out moments.

There’s a fair few of these dotted across the 6 episodes as well, and each chapter also ends with Hoshimo performing a live song to serenade us; the lyrics are insightful and work well to encapsulate the themes or ideas in that specific episode.

Of course, given the heavy Japanese emphasis, some of the references are going to fly over newcomers’ heads. Things like the Kohaku Song Battle and how big it was for Hoshimo, or the aforementioned Audrey duo, are inevitably going to be unfamiliar but it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment.

Despite all this though, LIGHTHOUSE has a lovely tone and pace to it. It’s a light, breezy show that’s very easy to dip in and out of. The format is simple and there’s enough variety to each episode that you’re unlikely to feel bored or restless.

The comedy is usually on-point too (even if those unfamiliar with Japanese culture are unlikely to get every joke), and there’s an infectious charm with this that makes it very easy to watch. If you’re yearning for more talk show shenanigans without silly gimmicks or big, elaborate sketches, LIGHTHOUSE is a shining beacon of goodness.

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  • Verdict - 7.5/10

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