By Cindy Binh Nguyen
I started watching “Terrace House, Opening New Doors” out of sheer curiosity. Having heard positive feedback, I highly doubted that the show’s snail pace and excessive politeness, pointed out on Reddit, could be my cup of tea. But, I was hooked within 20 minutes of the first episode.
“Terrace House, Opening New Doors” started slow, repetitive and somewhat boring. But there was something about the awkwardness of the conversations that I couldn’t get my mind off. So, I decided to keep watching and became heavily invested.
As a part of Fuji TV’s Terrace House franchise, the show is quick to become a household commodity in Japan. After being premiered by Netflix, “Terrace House, Opening New Doors” started to receive international acclaim. The increasing popularity, however, surprised many Terrace House veterans as the show is known to be much more subtle and polite than the notoriously manufactured global reality TV.
The relaxed tempo of Terrace House series is, in fact, a contributing factor to the raise of popularity. Unlike the kind of jaw-dropping, mind-boggling scandals that American shows like “Vanderpump Rules” and “Keeping up with the Kardashians” thrive on, “Terrace House, Opening New Door” revolves around unavoidably awkward moments, the blandness of ordinary lives, the unnecessarily polite small talks and the joy of eating good food.
Throughout six seasons, there is no music intentionally added to exaggerate the tension or personal interviews for the cast to throw shades.
The plot of Terrace House series is simple: six 20-ish strangers move into a big house. Most participants are regular people that lead their normal lives – waking up in the morning, eating, leaving the house for work or to school, returning, greeting, chit-chatting with their housemates, and, if you are lucky, asking each other out on a date. Sounds mundane, doesn’t it? But try to stick around even though you are accustomed to the Kardashian sisters hitting each other with their purses and fighting over a Bentley. It is the ordinary that is a huge part of Terrace House’s charms.
Like any of us, the housemates have their own thoughts and deal with anxieties. That’s probably why the Queen Seina’s sipping wine at the end of the day is a big fat mood. That also explains why most viewers saw themselves in Tsubasa’s insecurities after knowing about Shion’s hot ex and it hit me hard when university student Ami broke down and cried about her future plans.
It is hard to believe “Terrace House, Opening New Doors” can ever be overly scandalous or salacious. In the recently aired season six, the OG cast started to reveal their less ideal parts, while new members attempted to make the most out of their screen time by stirring up fresh chaos every week. Tension peaked when Yui, a seemingly defenseless virgin, was exposed in broad daylight to be a bully who grilled Risako for performing for camera and a hypocrite that blatantly lied about her sexual relations. But dirty looks and dead silence are pretty much all that happened in the episode. No one really yelled, let alone throwing drinks onto each other.
The style and approach of “Terrace House, Opening New Doors” is overall comforting, making the show a must-binge for those who cannot get along with meticulously scripted American TV. After a long day, nothing beats a heartwarming and refreshing Terrace House episode while sinking in the couch and doing nothing, well, except for low-key judging the housemates – just like what cast members do on screen.