help! i’m obsessed with ‘tidying up with marie kondo’
Turns out cleaning is thrilling.
Photography Denise Crew, courtesy of Netflix.
Marie Kondo leapt to infamy with her KonMari method of tidying up and the accompanying book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which encourages you to ask whether your possessions “spark joy.” Too many cardigans? Just keep the ones that spark joy, and then fold them very neatly in a drawer (give the others to the cardigan-less). Ditto with kitchen utensils, picture frames, toilet brushes, and anything else you might have cluttering up your house. Spark some joy or lose it, buster. Kondo’s teachings have a post-consumerist zest to them — we all have too much shit, which in turn either gives us anxiety or perfectly reflects back at us the anxiety within. For what could be more anxiety causing than looking at a large pile of old shoes? Thankfully, for the old shoes among us, Netflix has debuted a show starring Kondo, neatly entitled ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.’
Those expecting the grand hysterics of Hoarders, look away now — this is a marvellously restrained show with little in the way of hysterics or reveals (the houses at the end look quite a lot like they did at the beginning, just with a bit less stuff in them). Kondo also doesn’t do much, and thus we don’t get to see her work her magic. She turns up, offers a prayer for the house, to the thrill of her distressed American hosts, and then tells them to pile everything up so they can look at it. She then leaves them to their own devices to actually throw it all out, at a leisurely pace. In the meantime, the participants also solve their emotional woes, such as not having enough time for each other (too much tidying up after kids) or not being able to move on (house full of baseball cards). Kondo and her businesslike translator, Marie Iida, are congratulatory, and occasionally firm — you have to thank an item before throwing it out, or presumably its soul will come to haunt you.
If this sounds dull, it is. The lack of bawling is almost jarring when you’ve been raised on the most dramatic makeover shows, and the fact that Kondo’s entire wisdom seems to be that tidying is good for you isn’t exactly the ‘magic’ promised by her book’s title. What makes it great, and charming, is that it seems achievable. Kondo’s method is manageable rather than miraculous — you can do it by yourself, or with a friend or partner, and within a few weeks your abode will look slightly better. We all have something to let go of, whether it’s a few spoons, too many Christmas ornaments, or simply the past year.