Last winter break I discovered Terrace House, a popular Japanese reality show on Netflix. The premise is simple, the show stars three girls and guys around their early to late 20’s all living in a gorgeous mansion together in Japan. From CEO entrepreneurs, aspiring fashion models, workaholic manga artists, or just part timers figuring out their next move, Terrace House consistently features a wide variety of housemates each with a diverse background and world view. And unlike other reality shows, Terrace House lacks filler. It’s completely void of any post-event reactions, interviews, or manufactured drama; simply put, the show follows the lives of the housemates as they hang out with each other, go on dates, and progress in their respective career fields. And instead of each episode ending with a group elimination vote, Terrace House members simply leave when they feel like it’s the appropriate time in their lives.
Throughout the unpredictability and fast paced nature of today’s world and modern life, Terrace House is a stark contrast; it’s slow, relaxing, often predictable, and it creates an incredibly therapeutic experience. Especially when immersed within Japanese culture, rich with formalities and reserved social customs, it’s refreshing to see two people simply discussing their life ambitions instead of acting like sociopaths creating fake fights for attention. Throughout the show it’s truly fascinating to watch not only how those conversations change and how the dynamics between the housemates deepen, but also how each individual and their personality grows during their stay, especially when different characters enter and leave the house.
While some may be turned off by the obvious focus on finding a significant other, Japanese romance culture moves so gradually it never feels overbearing or forced. Most romantic dates just appear as two people platonically hanging out. And for a show about millennials living together, it’s refreshing as it is surprising to see them almost never on their phones. Almost as if there’s a concerted effort on the show to actually talk, make conversation, and enjoy the presence of another human being, a trait our generation needs to learn desperately.
It is important to note that there are cameras throughout the house capturing each interaction, most likely altering the true behavior of the participants at least a little bit, however I’d like to think this is as about authentic as it gets. To make things even more interesting, a panel of retired Japanese celebrities comment on the events house throughout each episode, often providing a completely different perspective than I would have thought of. No matter how bizarre this description sounded, if you’re searching for truly relaxing content on Netflix I would definitely give Terrace House a try. There are multiple iterations of the show currently listed on the platform, but starting with the series Tokyo 2019-2020 seemed to get me hooked.
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