Remember how much you loved MTV back in the day… The Hills, The Real World, The Hills Aftershow with Dan and Jessi... or maybe you adore Made in Chelsea. Well Terrace House is the Japanese equivalent that you don’t want to miss.
The concept is simple – “Terrace House is a show about six strangers living together and we observe how they interact. All that we’ve prepared is a beautiful home and automobiles. There is no script at all.”
So basically – they take six people, three men and three women ‘the members’ and put them into the most stunning house together. However, these people are also all stunning and often are all single and thus ‘hilarity ensues’. Another good to know here – they move in, but their lives continue as normal. They still go to their jobs, school etc.
The show had an original run on Japanese TV – Fuji Television from 2012-2014. It was crazy popular and made massive celebrities out of the houseguests. In 2015 the show re-launched on Netflix with Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City to an international audience.
Think about the show like an anthology. There are currently three iterations of the series and within each, there are often multiple parts or seasons. In total each iteration has about 40-45 30ish minute episodes.
Seems like a lot – and could easily get boring but it doesn’t.
While at any given time, there are only 6 members in total, the show featured 17 different members. Essentially as the members complete their goal for coming on the show, they leave and another member joins the house. So we’re constantly changing the house dynamic which allows for us the audience to have a constant stream of things to talk about.
A key component of the show is the six studio commentators who analysis the members every move. You, Reina Triendl, Yoshimi Tokui, Azusa Babazono, and Ryota Yamasato are always present – plus a young guy who rotates depending on the season. Kentaro was my favourite.
These commentators are the best part of the show. In equal parts, they make fun of the members and love them dearly. They want them to be successful and also fail miserably for our enjoyment. They make me laugh and satisfy that need to ‘discuss’ what I just saw with friends. I adore their insight and wish I could be part of their little crew.
To clarify – I’m watching the show, where a group of commentators are also watching the show. Add in that in Japan, the episodes are released on Netflix in real time – so as part of the audience I belong to, the members themselves are watching the show too. It’s all very Inception.
PBS does a great job of explaining how this is all very meta:
Ok. So now that you understand how this show works – let’s talk about what actually happens on the show by breaking down each of the iterations.
You need to start by watching Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City.
Boys and Girls in the City aired from 2015-2016 and takes place in Toyko.
The show starts with Makoto – a baseball player; Minori – a model; Yuki – a tap dancer; Mizuki – a barista/office worker; Tatsuya ‘Uchi’ Uchihara – a hair stylist; and Yuriko a medical student. It is a stellar cast that only gets better as time goes on. There are so many standout members – Arman, Nacchan, Yuto Handa, Rikopin, Hayato, Yuuki and Martha.
The drama around the relationships between the members is amazing.
When The Guardian reviewed the show – this is how they described it:
“The contestants’ budding romances move at a snail’s pace – months in and they are still trying to negotiate their way of the friendzone, let alone cross the border into each other’s beds. Love Island this most certainly isn’t… It feels refreshing that a story producer clearly hasn’t been within a hundred miles of the Terrace House narrative – nobody in their right mind would map out something this uneventful.”
You watch, waiting for the members to hook up… waiting for them to do anything to move this along – so when those massive relationship moments do happen, it’s so so satisfyingly worth it.
Just get excited about the omurice moment!
Also Arman’s constant quest to find love.
And then the blow up with Rikopin.
ugh – I’m just so excited for you to discover this show!
Some people argue that Boys and Girls in the City is the best – but I love all the different iterations equally. So get pumped for…
Terrace House Aloha State
Welcome to Terrace House: Aloha State – the only version that is clearly aimed at attracting an international (cough – American – cough) audience.
Aloha State aired from 2016-2017 and has a very different tone. The house is twice as big, there are many part-Japanese members, and more English spoken. It feels a lot more international – which to me is both a good thing and a bad thing. I love watching this show to discover the Japanese culture – but I appreciate the effort they are putting into to bridge the gap.
This iteration starts with Lauren – a model/illustrator; Yuya – an actor; Avian – a swimsuit designer; Eric – a carpenter; Naomi – who has no clue what’s she’s doing; and Yusuke – a musician. Throughout the show, we also get to enjoy Guy, Taishi, Niki, Cheri and Wez.
Again with the slow burn stratification – Guy has the most magical moment on this show. I legitimately squealed. I’m not saying anything else – but you will know the moment when it happens.
One of the memorable moments for me in Aloha State happens in a later part/season- when two of the American-Japanese girls who are clearly tired of speaking Japanese, exasperated with their experience, and beyond frustrated with each other – just start yelling at each other in English. It feels out of place, it’s odd – but highly fascinating and finally I can understand what they are saying and hear the tone of voice.
This show also has a lot of ‘throw-back’ moments. Members who have moved on, come back to date and visit current members. They talk about Boys and Girls in the City – and reference their ‘favourite’ episodes. It’s amazing.
Again – with the push for a more English Audience – Lauren did a small American press tour and it is fascinating to hear her thoughts. (There are not many spoilers in this – but best not to watch if you haven’t seen the show).
Currently, you can watch Terrace House: Opening New Doors
Terrace House: Opening New Doors started airing the fall of 2017 and released it’s 3rd season today.
I’m obsessed with this show. I’m going to go ahead and say this is my favourite iteration yet.
Our starting cast this season is phenomenal. We’ve got: Ami – a university student; Yuudai – a “chef”; Mizuki – a freelance writer; Taka – a snowboarder; Tsubasa – an ice hockey player; and Shion – a model.
I adore Tsubasa. She is my all time favourite female member. I just cannot begin to explain how much I want her and Shion to be a thing. Yuudai’s lack of ambition is a stark contrast to the rest of the cast. Ami
But beyond the cast – I think this is my all-time favourite house. I love the combination of the wood and Japanese design. Even with bunk beds, the girls room is truly stunning.
With Opening New Doors, we get to experience more of Japan’s natural beauty. It feels like a breath of fresh air. A break from city life – slowed down and more authentic.
Which is very similar to how The Guardian explained the viewing experience:
“Yet despite the narrative crawling along, you can’t simply scroll through Instagram to pass the time – instead, you’re forced to keep your eyes glued to the screen lest you lose track of the subtitles. It’s impossible to multitask while watching Terrace House – the show will have you remembering how it felt to have a pre-social media attention span in no time.”
Taking the time to appreciate this show is a large reason why I love this show. You really need to commit to it and when you do – the show rewards you.
Terrace House streams on Netflix with new episodes arriving on July 31st.