- “Terrace House” is a hit Japanese reality show now showing on Netflix. The current “Tokyo 2019 – 2020” season is the latest of five available to watch on the streaming service.
- Three guys and three girls move into a luxury house in Tokyo. Some become friends, some fall in love, but nobody is here for any drama.
- The show has a slow, hypnotic vibe that will keep you hooked.
- It’s perfect if you’re a foodie or obsessed with beautiful homes. The residents cook at least 50% of the time and the house needs its own Instagram.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The concept for “Terrace House” is simple. Six young, attractive men and women move into a beautiful house in Tokyo.
They swim in the pool, cook dinner in the absurdly minimalist kitchen and drive the complimentary sports car. But this is where the similarities to shows like “Love Island” and “The Bachelor” end.
The unspoken assumption is that we’re waiting for these beautiful people to pair up – but there are no confessional diary rooms, no staged contests, no audience votes.
“Terrace House” is a perfect, uninterrupted bubble of low-key dates, cooking and rooftop chats. There’s nothing to hurry them along either because nobody on this show is competing for a final rose or cash prize.
A post shared by TERRACE HOUSE ( テラスハウス ) (@th_6_tv)
“Terrace House” runs for at least a year, airing every week in Japan and dropping in 12 episode blocks on Netflix.
The residents can stay as long as they wish. When somebody quietly leaves, a new housemate arrives.
If someone doesn’t find love, that’s cool. Beyond dates, the cast share hobbies, career advice and a ton of food.
Most conversations happen around the dinner table, at a trendy Tokyo bar, or in a cute café. It’s a microcosm of the reality of being a twenty-something in a big city, finding love and growing into adulthood.
Why you should care: ‘Terrace House’ is an unscripted reality show that avoids any artificial drama
If you want something to binge-watch that’s relatable and relaxing, this show is perfect.
The residents of Terrace House are free to come and go as they please – which is pretty integral, as they all have jobs to do.
Unlike the cookie-cutter “Love Island” cast of Instagram models, the current residents of “Terrace House” have a variety of professions.
Among the girls, Kaori Watanabe (28) is an illustrator, Haruka Okuyama (24) is an actress who spends her spare time competing in drag races, while Risako Tanabe (20) works as a fitness instructor. As for the guys, Kenny Yoshihara (31) fronts indie band Spicysol, Shohei Matsuzaki (25) is an actor, travel writer, and part-time decorator, and Ruka Nishinoiri (20) works as a shop assistant while dreaming of becoming a Marvel star.
While we wait for them to pair up, a panel of six commentators – all established actors and comedians in Japan – watch the show alongside the audience. They appear every 15 minutes to give their expert commentary on every microscopic detail of the cast’s interaction – which is necessary because it’s the little moments “Terrace House” makes big.
Whether it’s Kenny teaching Haruka to play guitar, Risako bringing Ruka medicine when he gets ill or Shohei and Kaori discussing their views on starting a family, the commentators pop up with perfect timing to gush and gossip alongside viewers.
There’s an underlying expectation that the “Terrace House” cast is here for a genuine opportunity to meet someone new. Nobody is on the show to cash out with a brand sponsorship – and the panel of commentators delight in calling out singer Kenny for over-promoting his band Spicysol by wearing his own merch.
Meanwhile, Kaori is shown in tears after realizing a recent art commission may have been more due to her exposure than her talent.
In ‘Terrace House,’ nothing much happens, but everything is significant
The “Terrace House” residents are probably the politest reality TV cast on television. Any drama is downplayed or downright avoided.
Case in point: episode two is titled “The Tempura Incident” in reference to an argument between Haruka and Shohei.
The fight itself is pretty anticlimactic. Shohei asserts his aim to explore a variety of career options, while Haruka suggests this might possibly appear flaky. Instead of taking offence, Shohei brushes it off with a wise food analogy: “I love tempura, but it wouldn’t taste good if I had it every day.”
This is the kind of conversation barely worth commenting on, but in the world of “Terrace House,” it anchors an entire episode. It kick-starts a debate between the commentators on the merits of both perspectives.
Shohei is marked out for his laidback attitude, a trait that comes to define his character throughout the series, whether he’s casually announcing his decision to star in a soft porn film or dismissing a later love triangle as a “first-world problem.”
Romantic tension stays at a constant simmer. The cast dance around each other, but instead of inducing boredom, it keeps viewers hooked.
You can’t leave the room for a snack or get distracted by your phone — not when there’s a chance you might miss the moment when a tipsy Risako asks Ruka to be her boyfriend – but he mishears her.
Or when Kaori refuses to let Ruka pay for dinner, and, in doing so, breaks the boy’s heart. It’s so innocent it might seem unrealistic, but what the show lacks in PDA it makes up for in sincerity.
The bottom line: ‘Terrace House’ is the ultimate reality show
“Love Island” is the Tinder of reality TV, but “Terrace House” takes the subtle, slow elements of courtship that have vanished with the rise of social media and puts them front and center. If the cast’s shyness seems antiquated, it only adds to the show’s charm.
“Terrace House” is the ultimate reality show. Viewers watch relationships develop over weeks in real-time. The cast is decent to each other. They continue with their day-to-day lives. The camera pans slowly around the gorgeous house and lingers on the meals they share. It might seem mundane, but that gentle vibe is what defines this sleeper hit.
In an industry that thrives on drama, “Terrace House” proves that truth is stronger than fiction.