Before I discovered Terrace House, I never would’ve called myself a ‘fan’ of reality TV. Never.
Times infinity. I would’ve preferred to eat undercooked chicken, or make snow angels in a blizzard, or nearly any other heinous thing you can imagine doing.
I blame being a Brit for this visceral hatred. If you’re not privy, in the UK, reality shows are people being awful to each other. Within the first five minutes you’ll see people bitching about the subject of their bitch off-camera, bitching to everyone in earshot about aforementioned bitch-subject or bitching to the subject’s face about how bitching awful they bitching are. Like some sort of horrible, bitching-fuelled unholy trinity.
Long story short – I didn’t think reality shows were ever good, and I didn’t think that would ever change.
TL;DR, I gotta get to work!
Okay, so here’s the fast summary of why you should watch Terrace, because it’s already obvious that even in this post’s infancy, I’m going to write a lot. But some of you have lives and places to be and stuff. So this bit’s for you…
First of all, Terrace is based in Japan, which I would marry if marrying countries was allowed (no joke). Secondly, there’s plenty of eye candy in each series, namely a hot architect called Handa who always wears beautiful cardigans, speaks sweet wisdom and has killer cheekbones (also marriageable material, second to the country of Japan). Thirdly, the hosts are all fucking hilarious, and their dynamic alone is enough to make you want to watch more. (My favourite is Ryota Yamasato, who has his own YouTube channel and is basically my Japanese shoulder devil.)
Cynical, witty and with excellent taste in glasses.
There you have it. Off you go! And for the rest of you – here’s the long version.
Reason 1: The hosts
The chemistry and dialogue between the hosts on Terrace is literally amazing. Seriously. In my dream tea party, they are all guests. Whatever your sense of humour or own observations of the housemates, they’ll connect with you on your deepest levels – possibly because they’re mostly ex-comedians and also deeply insightful about human relationships. They’re also insanely sharp dressers. (I don’t know what that has to do with anything, exactly, but I end up looking forward to their outfits each episode as much as the house drama itself.)
They’re just awesome. Particularly Yamasato, who does not hold back with his opinions.
An example of the kind of incredible style present on this show. Squad goals.
Reason 2: Their friendships…
There’s something so peaceful about watching the housemates in Terrace. They all cook for each other, have nice midnight conversations in their (frankly amazing) city house and discuss their crushes while taking awesome trips around Tokyo (my favourite place in the world). What’s not to love?
Reason 3: … and their drop-dead amazing dates
The people on Terrace House literally plan the most amazing dates, I tell you. We of Western culture have been cheated. I’ve seen (off the top of my head) dates at jazz bars, in make-your-own-noodle restaurants, at the beach and at night-time theme parks. Oh, and at the CUPNOODLES factory. And boat trips.
Such kickass dates are apparently standard in Japan, apparently, because the date-asker typically wants to impress their crush with something super thoughtful to show that they care (*sob*). In a Western reality, for comparison, a date would involve eating Italian food at a restaurant with stained tablecloths, while bitching about that bitch at work called bitch Becky. Pfff.
… Nah. Terrace dating all the way.
Reason 4: Everything about it is wholesome
Even the drama is wholesome, and I think that’s because everyone’s so honest with each other – and mistakes are usually rectified.
For instance, an early episode of Boys and Girls In The City, one of the housemates (Mizuki) is talking about her ambition, only to be berated by Tap (another housemate) who doesn’t think her dream is solid enough. He’s pretty harsh, Mizuki cries, and they split ways. After a quick (hilarious) cut scene from the hosts, you see one of the other housemates talking to Tap about why his attitude was wrong… and by the end of the episode, Tap apologises to Mizuki and the whole thing’s dealt with and forgotten. THE END. 10/10 for mature, tear-shedding, wholesome quality content.
Reason 5: The healing influence of Japanese culture
One of the main reasons I love Japan – and this show – is because Japanese culture is beautiful. Japanese people are encouraged to be hardworking, frank and polite to each other, and it really reflects in what the housemates do.
Yes, there’s drama (it is a dating show, after all) but it’s dealt with properly. The members are frank with each other about their interests, and there are very few arguments or catfights. Everybody wants to get along, and trust me, it’s not boring to watch. They have dinners together, give advice on each other’s lives and lift each other up when they’re going through tough spots. They support each other’s burgeoning romances, have frank house meetings when there are issues to be ironed out and – as already mentioned – go on the world’s best goddamn dates when they’re interested in someone. Which brings me to…
The Ultimate Reason: Terrace changes you
Yeah, that sounds OTT. But watching Terrace House – particularly when I first discovered it – really moved some emotional bits and bobs around in me. I felt moved and motivated. Inspired and hopeful, in a time when I felt mostly hopeless (because I was living in Germany and my day-to-day was a living hell. but that’s for another post).
Terrace changed me. Watching its housemates and hosts – in all their honesty, empathy and dedication to their dreams – really bolstered me. I woke up with a new sense of purpose, buoyed on by the behaviours of the people I was growing to love on-screen. Watching them motivate each other made me want to motivate the people I knew, too. Watching them treat each other with frankness made me want to be more honest and assertive, too. Watching them make a real effort to achieve their ambitions made me more attentive to my own desires. I honestly felt refreshed – inspired to pursue the things I wanted, and address my issues in a more Japanese way.
A new definition of reality TV.
In Terrace, it’s not the drama that hooks you so much as your investment in the people. Because you grow to love them, you want to see them succeed. You feel like a proud friend, egging them on from the comfort of your couch. You want to see these people win; and you want to take their attitudes and replicate them in your own lives.
All reality TV should be like this. It should lift you up and motivate you, not drag you down into bitch-drama and make you fret over things that don’t matter – and I know that Amy agrees, because she’s written something about her favourite reality, Queer Eye, too (which you should go and read after this, if my 1000+ words have not already made you late for work).
Give it a go. Trust me. It’ll make you happy.