Terrace House Is The Best Show On Netflix You’ve Probably Never Seen
I’m not much of a reality TV fan. It’s all very contrived and not at all realistic, and the people on these shows are generally pretty terrible. I don’t watch The Bachelor or any of the housewives shows. I used to LOVE The Real World, though. Like, old school Hawaii-San Francisco-Boston RW. None of the shit they have now (is that still on? Good gravy.). So when someone suggested that I watch Terrace House on Netflix, I was wary. So very wary! A quick google search told me it was sort of like the Japanese version of The Real World. Which sounded intriguing, tbh. Having been married to a Japanese man, I know a bit about the culture and country and people. So I was curious to see how they would pull off a reality show where you expect debauchery and backstabbing and whatnot. Turns out, they do it better.
Terrace House follows the same basic format: six strangers live together in an amazing house, and drama unfolds at every turn.
The housemates are equally divided between genders: three men and three women. They come from all walks of life, but for some reason (ratings) they’re all good-looking and youngish. In the latest installment, Opening New Doors, the ages ranged from 19-31. The house for this installment of the series was located in Karuizawa, which is located in the Nagano prefecture in Japan. Nagano, if you recall, was the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics.
Some background on the show is needed to understand why it’s SO GREAT. It premiered in Japan in 2014, with Boys x Girls Next Door. The seasons last anywhere between 1 – 2 years, which is odd. And we get them here on Netflix, so they’re a bit out of order. For example, you can stream three of the four seasons now, but not the first season. And each season is broken up into parts (I’m on part 3 of OND). They’re like, 45 episodes long, it’s insane. Part of the reason for the delay is that every episode needs to be subtitled for streaming in other countries. Yes, the entire show is subtitled, WHICH MAKES IT EVEN BETTER.
One strange thing about Terrace House is that residents can just … up and leave. Like, one day they’re laughing with their roommates, and the next they’re like, “I am leaving in two days, thank you.”
At the end of OND, apparently, only one original cast member remains. Five of them bounced at various points during the show, starting with lingerie designer Mizuki Haruta. It’s really weird and every time a cast member left, I was more than a little upset. Except when Yuudai Arai left because he was the fucking WORST and I’m glad he’s gone. Then suddenly, a new person shows up, and everyone is just like … cool? Like it’s not weird at all, and they don’t skip a beat.
The other difference between Terrace House and some of the reality TV shows we have here is that TH has an entire panel of commentators who are fucking AMAZING. So you watch like 10 minutes of the show, then it cuts to this room where six men and women sit around and discuss what just happened. Some of the hosts (for lack of a better word) are former cast members, or just famous in one way or another in Japan. They dissect every interaction, every word, every single thing that happens in each episode. This panel is super invested in the lives of these people, and I’ve seen them get angry or cry over something that happened. But the best panelists are Ryota Yamasato and Yoshimi Tokui. They have bitchy hate in their hearts, and I love them so much for it.
Love is always a focal point on these shows. Well, sex is, anyway. But where some reality shows get it wrong, Terrace House gets love so very right.
Right off the bat, when cast member Ami Komuro gets to the house, she says she’s there to find love. OK? That’s odd, but OK! (Ami ends up being sort of the worst, just FYI.) And these people are seriously looking for love, but like, in the sweetest goddamn way. Imagine a bunch of first graders confessing crushes and asking if someone wants to hold their hand. IT IS SO PURE AND SWEET AND IT KILLS ME. There are no drunken hook-ups, no salacious teasing. Just adorable, clumsy love among pretty, 20-something Japanese people. It’s so fucking polite it makes me sick and also makes me want to move to Japan.
One of the best story lines from this season is the love story between hockey player Tsubasa Sato and adorably dorky male model Shion Okamoto. They’re completely mismatched, but somehow, a relationship starts to develop over the course of their time in the house. It’s like the reality TV version of a school note: “Do you like me, circle yes or no!” Tsubasa and Shion both left the house, and I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but it’s a happy ending. And yes, I do follow Tsubasa on Instagram to keep up with their story, don’t judge me.
I have a few favorite shows on Netflix, but Terrace House has quickly become my favorite show EVER. If you’re looking for a sweet escape from the trash TV we have here, I cannot recommend it enough. Seriously, you need to be watching TH, I need people to talk about it with in great detail.
(Image: Facebook / Terrace House)