It'd be easy to write off this new eight-episode Netflix series as another step in building Kondo's global empire, which it absolutely is. But it's more than that, too, a reality TV effort that pits conscious minimalism against the excesses of American consumerism. Previously most experienced as a gentle smiling face with bangs, Kondo, for once, feels humanized, oozing what reads as genuine empathy as she helps each home, full of triplicate junk and clothes people have never worn, find order. She offers storage tips on everything from how to fold your pants into tiny, manageable rectangles, to how to correctly place miscellaneous items into their proper small boxes.
This wouldn't be good unscripted television, however, if there weren't an element of cringeworthy unbearability to it. Kondo's screen time carries tons of warmth, which is a crucial palate cleanser to the anxiety-ridden tension that comes when her clients are left to fend with their belongings alone. Episodes are structured similarly: Kondo takes a tour of the home before giving out homework to confront -- or, in Kondo's gentler terms, "encounter" -- different categories of their stuff, deciding whether or not it "sparks joy." First it's clothes, which are ripped out of closets and piled into mountains, then books, then paper goods, then "komono," which amounts to everything miscellaneous, and lastly sentimental items.
In just the first episode, following the KonMari journey of Rachel and Kevin Friend (the Friend Family, as they won't have you forget), we're treated to unstaged fights over how Rachel doesn't do laundry (sexist!) and how Kevin thinks there are too many pillows on one bed (impossible!). The gleaming high point comes when, after dealing with their piles of clothes, they're left with, like, 200 extra hangers after thanking the items they didn’t want anymore (another crucial part of the process) and setting them aside to donate. Kevin thinks they should get rid of the hangers as part of paring down, but Rachel disagrees. "Will you use them? BABE, DO THEY BRING YOU JOY??" she shouts back at Kevin. Eventually, their tension dissolves, and they're left with nothing but a beautiful, clean home with toddlers who are now very into folding laundry.