help! i'm obsessed with netflix’s terrace house
A primer on the binge-worthy Japanese reality TV show you need to watch.
Still via Youtube
Terrace House, for the uninitiated (at this point, only people without a television) is the cripplingly mundane yet truly fascinating Japanese reality TV show that’s currently being streamed non-stop courtesy of Netflix. The premise is simple — three boys, three girls, in a forbiddingly chic and luxurious house. It’s just like The Real World, but impossibly more tasteful, and with a group of celebrity commentators who chime in every 10 minutes with criticism. So far so dull — why then, are so many people watching it?
Part of Terrace House’s appeal is the lack of drama so prevalent in American television. While the Real Housewives will throw a drink if someone so much as looks in their direction, the cast mates in Terrace House are unfailingly polite to each other (at least in this series, the alluringly entitled New Doors — last season was set in Hawaii and messier). Dramatic moments include making a soup that’s too thin; becoming upset because you don’t have a goal in life; or revealing that you once used your father’s credit card. Diary room confessionals this is not, as the cast gently question each other’s hopes and dreams. They also got to watch the show as it films, which makes it harder for there to be any villainous shenanigans in the editing room — if you see you’re being made into the baddie it's easy to correct.
Of course, there’s a goal to it all, whether it be finding true love or building up your lingerie brand in Korea (one way in that the show doesn’t differ from its international counterparts is that everyone is gorgeous). The boys and girls are divided into two bedrooms by gender, but there’s another room for couples who want to get intimate. Although at this point, where nobody’s even gone on a date, I can’t really imagine that happening. Who knows, however — Terrace House is adept at ramping up the tension to the point where even a stolen glance feels like a full on orgy. Oh, the perils of young love!
This is in fact the fourth instalment of Terrace House, coming hot on the heels of the charmingly named Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City and Terrace House: Aloha State. This season is set in the charming yet cold environs of mountainous Karuizawa, with two housemates being winter-sports professionals, alongside the usual models (and a very confused chef). Last night I felt myself almost lulled to sleep by the sheer boredom of it all, as they debated the merits of hot pot, before being jolted back awake by the hysterical and frankly quite rude commentary, especially that of a woman called You, who I can only describe as commentator in chief, and who seems to be an aged pop star.
This is the series's appeal — there's something comforting about how classy the housemates are, and how utterly base their viewers are, both us and the weirdly fascinating commentators. You're practically scream "Just make out already" at the poor young souls giving each other meaningful glances across the minimally decorated TV den. When TV is so saturated with killings, cults, and wild sex romps, it's great to see something where very little happens at all, where the drama is milked from the littlest of interactions. That's true to real life too, as who hasn't spent the day obsessing over a few words uttered to someone you secretly really want to lock lips with. Both soporific and splendid, I can't wait to see what happens next to our housemates. It's sure to be entirely undramatic, and yet weirdly I'll probably end up crying at the untold marvels of young love lived out on the small screen.
This article originally appeared on i-D US.