January 16, 2019

Marie Kondo Wants You to Tidy Up

“Hungover and pleasantly aimless on New Year’s Day, I scrolled through Netflix looking for something soothing to watch. Not You—even though apparently everyone on my timeline was watching the Penn Badgley thriller. I was not going to pick Bird Box; the apocalypse will come soon enough. Sadly, I was clean out of Great British Bake Off episodes. And the time for Christmas movies about improbable princes was over for another year.

Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, though, had the promise of Queer Eye–like simplicity and redemption, exactly what I craved on this black hole of a day. The show features Japanese neatness queen Marie Kondo, whose 2014 book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (it came out in Japan two years earlier), persuaded swathes of readers that the “Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” would heal their souls and lives. In her new reality show, Kondo visits American families and helps them to deal with the burden of their possessions—sorting, eliminating, and arranging them in a way that streamlines not only their stuff, but also their lives. Crying over regular Jo(e)s whose gigantic life hurdles could be tackled with the cheery help of a semi-celebrity: Nothing could be more suited to the biggest lounge-around day of the year.

As might be expected of a show focused on a woman whose superpower is folding, the show has a quietly tender tone. In the first episode, Kondo and an interpreter visit the Friend family—Rachel, Kevin, and their two young children. The Friend house isn’t a Hoarders-worthy mess; it’s just the home of two working parents and two children. Kondo visits them several times over the course of a month, bearing gifts (boxes to put miscellaneous items in), encouragement (“I can feel the spirit of this bedroom”), and instruction (“Take all the clothes from everywhere in the house and pile it into one big mountain”). Just one rule reigns in the KonMari method: Keep items that “spark joy” and discard those that don’t, after thanking them for their service. That, plus a specific technique for folding clothing and linens that allows you to easily see what’s in a drawer, pretty much sums it all up.”

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