The year is 2012. You’ve just hit puberty and you’re busy putting coconut oil in your hair to battle its newly found infatuation with frizz (bad decision). Your Blackberry goes off on the side as your friend is texting you yet again about the cute boy in math class and your tv is turned on with full volume on MTV (what else?). What are you watching? Jersey Shore of course!
Reality tv has really been the staple of the last so-called golden years of television. It all started from Real World in 1992, a show which features eight young adults who are filmed non-stop as they live together in the big city. The show was hailed for targeting a broad range of issues occurring in young adulthood, such as substance abuse, abortion, AIDS and many more.
The years after saw many reality tv show productions come to light, with notable examples including the Kim Kardashian centered Keeping up with the Kardashians, Big Brother and the aforementioned Jersey Shore. Staples of these reality tv shows have been shock, drama, backstabbing and more for the sake of entertainment.
This brings me to Terrace House, a Japanese reality tv show featuring six young adults living together in a beautiful house. The latest installment of the show is set in the beautiful countryside town of Karuizawa, an hour’s commute away from Tokyo. The show maintains that the interactions in the house are unscripted. Cast members are free to leave the house at any point they would like and are replaced right away by new cast members.
Terrace House is best described as a breath of fresh air. One of the things that sets Terrace House apart from most other reality tv shows is the fact that the participants are not, in fact, filmed 24/7. Instead, the film crew asks the crew about their plans for the week and decides when it’s most interesting to film them. This leads to interesting situations in which the cast sometimes try to play the camera and hide things that happen in the house off camera often leading to a little bit of confusion.
Another thing that makes it worth the watch, is the so-called panel. The panel consists of five famous Japanese celebrities who provide commentary after an ample number of scenes during the broadcast. The panel members all play a corresponding part which provides the commentary: An old perverted lady, an innocent adolescent daughter, the perverted uncle and the embarrassed teenage boy. Not only is the panel hilarious, but they also provide the viewer’s perspective during the scene and have insightful discussions about the cast’s behavior.
As Terrace House can be filmed up to a year or more as long as the show is successful, cast members are able to watch the episodes themselves and see the feedback provided by the panel as well as seeing their own behavior on screen. You often see cast members discussing these reactions and even changing the way they behave corresponding to the criticism they received earlier on in the series.
Lastly, Terrace House features some amazing cinematography, with the cast often hanging out outside of the house. Instead of the usual in house installed cameras, Terrace House has a literal film crew which films the cast and often beautiful parts of Japan as well.
What really makes the show worth the watch in my opinion, is that it gives you the opportunity to really reflect on yourself as you watch it. Some of the actions of the cast, while not the best decisions, are really relatable to me as a viewer. Hearing the panel react to a certain house member’s actions makes me consider their behavior from a different point of view and gives me the opportunity to really think about how I present myself to other people and how other people might consider my actions to influence them. So if you haven’t seen Terrace House yet, what are you waiting for? Season 4 is now available on Netflix for streaming worldwide.
Cover: (C) Fuji Television Network Inc./East Entertainment / Final editing: Thomas Korver