The publishing of her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in 2014 took the world by storm, becoming a must-read for those embarking on the minimalist-lifestyle journey. In 2017, it was adapted into a manga, and as of January 1, 2019, Marie Kondo is the host of her own breakout hit on Netflix — just in time to tidy up those New Year’s resolutions.
The organization methods introduced in Kondo’s book revolutionized the way people approached their drawers and wardrobes. Its success can be explained by its simplicity: reading it and then decluttering (by only keeping items that “spark joy”) feels more like checking off a long to-do list rather than wading through yet another lifestyle-improvement book.
In fact, her KonMari method is so straightforward that you might even have wondered why exactly the world is so taken by it. Because isn’t tidying up your home just about doing a spring clean every now and then?
This is where her new Netflix TV series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, sheds some light. It takes you into people’s homes, shows you their (sometimes overwhelming) mess, and demonstrates Kondo’s spiritual approach to tidying. You might even find yourself shedding a tear along with the people in the show.
While other minimalist movements tend to be more utilitarian, the consideration and appreciation of the emotional relationships one can have with an old shirt or an old book is what makes Kondo relatable. For many people, letting go of material objects can be as emotionally difficult as letting go of a loved one – and Kondo is here to help. (Although there are still some who vehemently disagree with Kondo’s approach to tossing out books.)
Another interesting outcome is that many of the couples on the show express how clearing out the old has helped to improve their relationship with their partner and children.
In the first episode of the eight-part series, Kondo defines what she believes we should all be looking for: “Do you know what it feels like when you feel joy? You feel it when you hold a puppy. […] it’s a warm, positive feeling.”
Feelings and the sentimental value of each piece of clothing and object are incredibly important in the KonMari method. The rule of thumb is if it brings you joy, then you needn’t get rid of it. Kondo, who attributes her reverential view towards inanimate objects to the time she spent as a teenage Shinto shrine maiden, accentuates the importance of prioritizing good feelings over something’s usefulness throughout the show.
She often reminds her clients and the viewer to be gentle and mindful throughout the process. This is reflected in the editing as well. While scenes of frustration and “before” pictures are filtered in black and white, scenes surrounding positive emotions and “after” pictures are colorful and bright.
In each episode, before starting the tidying process, Kondo encourages her clients to sit in the heart of the house, usually the living room, and thank it for being a good home. If an item doesn’t bring you joy, then you should thank it for its time with you, and donate, recycle or throw it away. Giving thanks is step one, and shouldn’t be ignored, according to Kondo. Viewers have taken heed, and there have been several reports of an increase in the number of donations to thrift stores in the US as a result.
The show has also inspired a wave of viewers to proudly document their own decluttering on social media. Some have even started adding their own twists to apply the method to the digital space, something Kondo has yet to explore.
Season two, perhaps?
Netflix original series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is only on Netflix
Read our 2015 interview with Marie Kondo.