If you enjoy unscripted shows but are looking for something a little less intense than shows like The single person Where The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City, Netflix features The Keys to Terrace House, a charming take on the lives of six strangers living together and navigating real life.
Like, real real life.
Okay, yeah, there’s an unusual number of models walking through the door for Terrace House, but they all have other jobs as well. Some work in construction, others serve boba and a few even go to school. There is a chef, a fashion designer and an architecture student. Then there are a few who, like many people in the real world, seem to be doing nothing at all. They are even tempered, they are respectful to each other, and they can be watched. This is what makes Terrace House another kind of reality show in all good manners.
Despite the politeness of the roommates and the minimal drama on screen, Terrace House found itself at the center of controversy last year over the tragic death of a former actor, when the remainder of the season was called off. Whether the series will return or not remains to be seen. But Netflix still offers four full seasons of the show on its platform, and there’s a lot of material to enjoy.
One of the most enjoyable storylines takes place during Terraced house: boys and girls in the city, the first season available on Netflix. An actor prepares to release a line of hats she’s designed, and everyone in the house comes together to help with the projection, from building the displays to modeling the hats in photos. It’s a simple group project, which you could easily imagine yourself participating in. There are a lot of such good stories without screaming or crying (except for a few tears of joy and gratitude).
That’s not to say that there isn’t a dramatic tension around love – in fact, it’s a central theme that runs through the seasons. Castmates have a crush, date, get together, and are heartbroken. But what makes these relationships different from almost everything else on TV is how ingrained they are. You won’t find a series of drunken relationships or a revolving door of sex partners. Terrace House loves to pump the brakes and let things happen gradually, and that’s what makes it so convincing. It’s the epitome of “will they / won’t they” that makes a great conversation about water coolers. At Friends it was Ross and Rachel; Office followed Jim and Pam. Terrace House To Arman the part-time landscaper and Masako the child in daycare.
Due to his laid back sensitivity and lack of urgency to Japanese culture, Terrace House features a good number of characters who talk about what they want in a relationship. The guys will discuss it among themselves, the girls will do the same, and soon a date will be in preparation. Rarely are these outings romantic or particularly memorable. They often feel like they are two friends grabbing food – and there is a lot to eat on this show, so much so that it wouldn’t seem out of place to air on Food Network.
Even when dates are going extremely well, don’t expect something obviously physical anytime soon. The most common topic of intimacy brought up behind closed doors is – be prepared – to hold hands. Spoken, but not often seen. The same can be said for arguments between roommates. Boys and girls in the city is narrated over the course of 46 episodes, and the cast members angrily raise their voices a whopping zero times. It literally never happens. The most heated exchange of the season became the “meat incident” after someone’s steak was eaten without their permission. He said calmly and rationally, “I am very angry,” before getting up and calmly leaving the room. No discarded plates, no slammed doors.
Rest assured that Terrace House still knows how to create tensions. The show breaks the fourth wall in a unique way, airing episodes while it’s still in production. It’s interesting to see the cast members watch each other in previous episodes, knowing that things they said in private can come to light and have consequences around the house.
Episodes often end on cliffhangers, usually involving romantic tangles or the unresolved intermittent love triangle. And fans of The walking dead can appreciate the one thing he has in common with Terrace House: no one is safe. That’s not to say that household members could be devoured by the walking dead at all times, but they leave the show when they feel it’s time to move on.
Even this mimics real life. No one is rejected or sent home at the end of a rose ceremony. Members only leave when they want to, opting for work opportunities, to focus on life away from the cameras, or just because they feel like they’ve accomplished what they wanted in the classroom. House. And while it can be sad to see someone leave, it’s easy to find yourself on the edge of your seat when a replacement actor walks through the door.
Each episode is divided by a group of commentators who appear multiple times to influence what’s going on. They make a few jokes and discuss the different storylines, and it feels like you’re watching the show with a bunch of friends, even if you’re watching it alone.
Terrace House is about as prosaic as TV can get, and make no mistake about it, that’s a good thing. It remains a calming, enjoyable, and heartwarming series that gives viewers a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people, and at times it’s more than enough.
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