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If you’ve been scrolling through Netflix recently you may have seen a new show called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In this 8-episode series, Kondo, the bestselling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up brings her KonMari method of decluttering to a diverse group of families (read my review of the book here). Is this show worth a watch to inspire your own organizing journey? Here’s my take on it.
Kondo herself is a huge part of what makes the show interesting. She’s impossibly tiny and so adorable she doesn’t seem real at times. But she is captivating with her infectious energy and empathetic but firm delivery of tidying advice. Before I tuned in I wondered how the language barrier would be handled (Kondo speaks minimal English), but it’s mostly seamless with her translator/assistant Iida filling in the gaps.
With such a diverse cast of clients on the show most viewers will find someone to relate to. There are young couples just starting out, families with small children, empty nesters, and someone who has lost their spouse. It highlights the fact that people at all stages of life struggle to stay organized and how basic principles of decluttering can be effective in any home.
Tidying Up accurately depicts the amount of work needed to declutter an entire home. Kondo visits her clients every week or two, but we get to see additional footage of them working on their own in between. Their physical and emotional struggles to sort through their stuff are clearly shown, along with trips to donation centers and yard sales. Unlike a lot of home decorating shows that gloss over the process, this one is all about what it takes to go from before to after.
I really like that the homes are real, with outdated, worn furniture, chipped paint, and wood paneling. While the spaces are transformed by the removal of clutter, they are not made over from a design standpoint. The clients’ old furniture is still there at the end, and I found that very refreshing. We should see more images of how people actually live, rather than perfectly-styled homes that make us feel like ours don’t measure up. Even though Kondo sells paperboard boxes on her website for $89 (and they are sold out!), she doesn’t promote any specific products or containers on the show. The “after” shots of the spaces are tidy but not Pinterest-worthy.
THE NOT-SO GOOD
The show becomes repetitive after a few episodes because Kondo’s method dictates the same order for addressing clutter in every case: clothes first, then books, papers, miscellaneous housewares, and sentimental items. Almost every show begins with clients piling all their clothes on the bed and then addressing them one by one to determine which items “spark joy”.
Another element of the show that does not stand up well to repetition is Kondo’s practice of introducing herself to the home. She finds a spot to sit on the floor, closes her eyes, and does a brief meditation. The first time this happens it’s impactful, but after a few viewings of this scene playing out with the same calming music and somber shots of the family looking on, I found myself rolling my eyes. I’m all for recognizing the spiritual impact of organizing, but the editing of these scenes is pretty heavy-handed.
Viewers who are very new to getting organized will probably learn some things, but much of Kondo’s advice is fairly obvious. Folding the laundry and putting it away in drawers is not exactly ground-breaking. And while her folding method makes for great visuals, I’m not a big fan of it in practice. She creates tiny packages out of all fabric items so they can stand upright in drawers. I found this made my clothes overly wrinkled and they flop over if your drawers are not completely filled. But that doesn’t mean this technique might not work for you.
Overall, this show gives a realistic view of the process of decluttering and highlights how getting organized can transform not just your space, but your emotional state. Each client talks about the positive effect of getting rid of their excess has had on how they feel and how the relationships have been improved in their household. I don’t think the full series is a must-watch, but a few episodes will help get you fired up to tackle your own clutter.
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