Terrace House Tokyo is a relatively unusual show on Netflix. Imagine if Big Brother and Gogglebox had a Japanese tv baby – Terrace House Tokyo would be the result. Six young singles, three women and three men, move into a real house in Tokyo with the sole aim of trying to find love with one of their new housemates. However, unlike Big Brother they are not held captive and instead go about their ordinary day-to-day lives including work, hobbies, food shopping etc… usually meeting up in the evening to chat over dinner. As they get to know each other they go on dates, or just hang out with each other as they try to figure out who they like the most. So far so good.
The Gogglebox element comes into play as not only do we watch them, but there is also a panel of six hosts who watch them. And then we cut to them as they discuss what we've all just seen. So they add a bit more context and another layer to the show as they try to delve a little deeper into the housemates. They are hilarious and do not hold back on what they think of the various antics and goings-on in the house. Trust me, there is a lot happening in that house though not at a particularly fast pace. In true Japanese style, the housemates are polite, respectful and their relationships with each evolve more organically.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. As these kinds of reality shows go, this is more of a social experiment than a show full of cheap thrills and vacuous bed-hoppers who are all vying for more air time. So at least in that respect, it's a refreshing change from the norm. There is still plenty of entertainment with a hint of underhandedness as the housemates invariably end up liking the same people so it has its fair share of scheming – all of which is dissected by the panel.
Similar to Ainori Love Wagon, it's actually a really nice change to see a group of twenty-somethings be nice to each other instead of being pitted against each other. It's also a lovely insight into Japanese culture that can be savoured over the 24 episodes that are now streaming.