"Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" focuses on renowned Japanese organizing consultant and author Marie Kondo entering the homes of eight families to help them tidy their homes. Season 1 consists of eight episodes with each episode focusing on a different family.
At the beginning of each episode, Kondo visits the home and assesses the situation in an innately gentle manner. The organization guru then leads the family in a seemingly ceremonial thanksgiving to the house for the protection and memories it has offered the family.
This respect of worldly possessions seems to ease the family into trusting Kondo and allowing her to help them let go of their unnecessary material things, or, more appropriately, junk. Kondo teaches the families her very own organizing method, the KonMari method, to assist them in the purging.
The main ethos of KonMari is this: keep items that spark joy and gently bid farewell to those that don’t. KonMari implements five organizational categories – clothing; books; papers; "komono" or whatever doesn’t fit in the other categories; and sentimental items – that help the families go through all of their possessions without being overwhelmed.
The order of the categories also help hone in the ability to determine what sparks joy and what doesn’t. This is necessary because the last category, sentimental items, can be particularly brutal.
While most of the episodes are slightly repetitive, episode 4 was surprisingly emotional. The house owner, Margie, was a recently widowed retiree. Her episode not only focused on decluttering her house but also letting go of her husband, Rick, and their life together to welcome the future.
Episode 5 was by far the most relatable episode down to the impressive collection of random mugs. It focused on Matt and Frank, a married couple trying to transition their apartment from a college dwelling to an adult home in time for an impending visit from their parents.
Kondo is an adorable, surprisingly small powerhouse who seems to have a lot of energy and a positive enough outlook to overcome any organizational hurdle imaginable. The problem is, most people aren’t like that even though the KonMari method seems to require it.
The main issue with the show is that it assumes the houses are clean albeit cluttered to the brim. Consequently, the main issue the families face is that they have too much stuff rather than a cleanliness problem. The show should really be called “Downsizing” with Marie Kondo as the participants merely go through everything they own and get rid of junk.
The show seeks to implement a lifestyle change from borderline-hoarding, a problem that, to me, affects most Americans (I made up this statistic), to minimalism. By Marie’s own admission in episode 6, the KonMari method is not easy and not magical. It requires a lot of effort because it’s a lifestyle change.
The show offers helpful advice. Some of the more widely applicable tips include folding clothes standing up so they’re not stacked on top of each other, storing items in boxes where they are visible so you don’t lose track of what you own, and keeping similar bags inside each other with the handle visible to save space.
The show even offers advice on how to get started by beginning with an easy task. Most helpful are Kondo's cures for hitting a wall — or in my case, feeling lazy — during cleaning: opening a window, producing a vibrating sound, lighting a candle, spraying something aromatic and burning incense to purify a room.
The KonMari method is a great method in principle, and I am sure many people would find it helpful, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s applicable to a college apartment. Furthermore, the entertainment value of the show is sorely lacking when compared to other shows in its category like A&E’s “Hoarders.”
I also have to call into question the believability of the homes, specifically how these homes have mountains and mountains of stuff but sparkling-clean floors and counters.