Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City – Netflix – your chance to learn some Japanese and it’s a watchable reality show about youth, love and life

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Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City was first released in Japan and had its run from 2 September 2015 to 27 September 2016. There is an older season that was produced and premiered on Fuji TV, but this season was the first time it was picked up by Netflix. From what I can gather, Netflix managed to bring an international audience to the show and even brought over cast members from overseas.

Just before getting into the show, from what I can tell, Netflix is a now staple within most family households. It also seems to be the most popular out of all the streaming services. Think Stan, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime TV, etc. There is just so much you can watch on Netflix, yet so little time with work and all. When I watch something on Netflix, I use it as an opportunity to learn another language. In the past couple of months, I have been using an addon called ‘Language Learning with Netflix’. This addon allows me to practice my Mandarin and Japanese while watching shows and seeing the show in its native subtitles (while allowing me to hover over words I don’t know). While I wasn’t able to do this for all shows and still can’t, there are now more and more shows that now have now offer native language subtitles. (I can safely say that I have learnt heaps of Japanese watching Terrace House.)

About the show itself. It’s a reality television show that is different to other westernized reality shows. Six strangers, 3 boys and 3 girls live together in the same house, while they go about their day to day life. What is interesting is that each cast member has the option to leave the house at any time, so there is a rotation of cast members every 10 or so episodes. The other weird and wonderful thing is that the cast members are able to watch themselves a month later on Netflix (and you can actually see them cringe at their earlier selves).

If I told you all the above in a conversation, I don’t think I could easily persuade you that this is actually an interesting show. But I have to admit, it’s one of those you have to see it to believe it things. There is something interesting about following people’s day to day lives (particularly in a different country) and it actually makes for compelling watching, because the social and cultural norms are entirely different to my own. For me, I find it really interesting to see how ‘normal’ Japanese people communicate with one another and what they do for entertainment.

I said ‘normal’ in inverted marks, because some of the cast members are not normal everyday people. There are clearly some very cast members who come from very wealthy families and are able to coast through life without much concern. While there are definitely a small number of others who are clearly from middle income families and they exhibit that hardworking ethos and tend to have endearing ambitions.

Past the midpoint, housemates Arisa, Arman, Natsumi, Yuto, Misaki and Hikaru in Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City

Each episode of Terrace House is about 30 minutes long and cover about a week of events, so you get the feeling that the show is only focused on the more interesting aspects of the cast members lives, e.g. when they are together in the house, go on dates or do something interesting. Sometimes I got the feeling that some of the onscreen clashes or moments were confected to ensure there was something interesting to watch, but I thought it wasn’t overdone.

Each episode is also helped by a cast of 6 entertainers and comedians who are all well-known Japanese household names. They add a good level of analysis of the events in the house and the humor. I found that their commentary were often on point and they were usually saying things that I was thinking, but couldn’t articulate.

In terms of the cast members for Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City, I found the initial group to be interesting, but I think the group around the half way point are far more interesting. There were some cast members who I initially thought were alright, but my opinions about them changed. And vice versa. The most impressive cast member is definitely Yuto (or Han-san).

When I started watching Terrace House, I didn’t think I would enjoy it. When I was young, I used to watch shows like Australian Big Brother and Survivor, but they were very different shows with very different cast members. I found that Terrace House was a tad more mature and believable. I am glad to say I don’t watch a lot of reality television shows, but this one was bearable. (I think I deserve some praise for never watching a single episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians.)

If you have a subscription with Netflix, you can start with Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City. To date, I haven’t quite finished all 46 episodes, but I am well past the half way point.

At the time of writing, I could still apply to be on the show to be a cast members (if it wasn’t cancelled). And, I wish I knew about this show sooner. Unfortunately, even if I am eligible, several things at the moment stop me from being able to be a cast member. (If only I could rewind time.)

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