Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City

With no new episodes of The Walking Dead until October and The 100 having wrapped up its third season a couple of months ago, I’ve been in need of some new shows. I decided to try some options outside of the “post-apocalyptic world” variety (which is my favourite genre, apparently) and have discovered some interesting series (most recently, Please Like Me).

A friend recommended Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City, a Japanese reality show available on Netflix. I love Netflix — so much diversity in its original content, plus access to content from other countries.

Terrace House chronicles the lives of six people in their 20s (three men, three women) while they share a home for a few months. The group members meet for the first time during the first episode of the show, and interestingly, they can leave the house, go to school or work, and hang out with their real friends at any time — they just use the free house as their home.

The show is unscripted and the “stars” are all regular people: a hair stylist, a student/baseball player, medical student, student/model, office worker/barista and a tap dance teacher. Yes, an interesting combination of people/careers. The show is pretty slow for the first few episodes as you get to know the “characters,” but given that it has a built-in panel of commentators (Japanese comedians/media personalities) speculating on who likes who and what will happen next, there are some laughs. I’m up to episode 7 of 18 so far.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • There is a Dragonball Z reference in episode 6 (YES!!!!!)
  • Things start getting juicy in episode 7 with some tension between two of the guys. There was also mention of sex in this episode, in a discussion about the mating habits of garden eels (this has been the only mention of sex so far)
  • One of the women watches an episode of a previous season of this show, in the show (SO META)

What I’m finding really fascinating and compelling about Terrace House is the Japanese approach to social interactions and dating culture. Everyone is INCREDIBLY polite — even when housemates have the same crush and are competing for a girl or guy’s interest and attention. And unlike many North American reality shows with this type of premise, people aren’t all banging each other, drunk and disorderly or overly dramatic…they’re just humans trying to get to know each other, to see if there are any romantic feelings between them. They also all cook and share really thoughtful and visually beautiful meals.

Speaking of beauty — Terrace House has also provided some insight into what is considered conventionally attractive in another culture. I noticed that all of the guys in the show like the very feminine and “cute” girl at the start, versus the other two, more sporty and assertive women. Baby Spice was probably their favourite Spice Girl. (Ginger was mine.)

I’m going to keep watching Terrace House and see how things pan out for my favourite characters (Mizuki, the hard-working office worker/barista and Makoto, the student/baseball player). Though I’m not sure how long the show will sustain my interest given its slow pace (I do like drama in my TV series), for now this is a pleasant break from my usual ‘blood and gore’ TV.



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