I can’t be the only person here watching Terrace House.
For those unaware, Terrace House is a Japanese TV show that was resurrected by Netflix. It’s basically a Japanese version of the Real World, but like, the first season of the Real World, back when it was a “social experiment” and not just idiots getting drunk and horny. There have been 3 “seasons” (i.e. houses) since the Netflix revival: Boys and Girls in the City (Tokyo), Aloha State (Hawaii), and the current season, Opening New Doors (Karuizawa, a skiing resort town).
A couple of key differences from American reality TV:
- like early seasons of the Real World, house members all have regular jobs and lives, and just live in the house together.
- While the “purpose” of the Real World is mostly partying, the implicit/explicit purpose of Terrace House is to date your other housemates. Not just have sex, but date, like go to an Amusement Park together and stuff.
- There’s a panel of 6 hosts/comedians who watch the show in real time, and give 5 minutes or so of commentary every “commercial break”.
- Japanese social norms.
While there’s always something lost in translation, the show is almost astonishingly well translated. Additionally, the hosts being injected in real time provide a level of cultural interpretation in addition to just textual translation. You don’t know how to interpret somebody’s awkward response to being asked out on a date? Just wait for the hosts’ reactions and they’ll tell you if it was a savage burn or nervous tittering. The panel is also great because it creates a sense of instant community with the hosts, like a real-time podcast about the show during the show.
Some knowledge of Japanese culture and language is obviously super helpful in getting the most out of the show. But they aren’t required at all. The more you know about the language and culture, the more you can form your own interpretations and disagree with the hosts. But the blind/guided experience is also great in its own right.