Last night’s final episode of the NTV drama series “Kaseifu no Mita” proved that the right star can still pull in a huge audience. It got a phenomenal average audience rating of 40% in the Kanto region and was well over 30% across the country, according to the Video Research company. The rating peaked at 42.8% in and around Tokyo. It is the highest rating for a TV drama in more than a decade and the best since the TBS series “Beautiful Life,” which starred perennial heartthrob Kimura Takuya, scored 41.3% in March 2000. And it handily beat the 37.6% scored by “Good Luck,” another KimuTaku vehicle that aired on TBS in 2003.
The secret to the show’s success was the lead role of Mita, a housekeeper who is completely devoid of emotion, played by popular actress Matsushima Nanako (38, profile). She helps a devastated family rebuild after the husband’s affair leads his wife to suicide. While some TV viewers were mystified by the character’s expressionless performance, it clearly touched a nerve with the general public. It also continues to pay off for Matsushima, who has landed the lead in Fuji TV’s spring season offering, “Lucky Seven.” It’s her first primetime Monday 9pm drama lead role since Fuji’s “Yamato Nadeshiko” in 2000. Since then she lost much her popularity to actresses of her generation, such as Shinohara Ryoko (38), and maintained a somewhat diluted career as she married actor Sorimachi Takashi (38) and gave birth to two children. As her husband’s career hasn’t been too stellar of late – his most recent drama had a rating of only 9% – he is said to now be the “kaseifu” or housekeeper of the family.