Watching: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

Before Marie Kondo’s show Tidying Up debuted on Netflix on January 1st, the only awareness I had of the KonMari method was watching Emily Gilmore declare her dining room chairs no longer brought her joy. One of my favorite scenes from the Gilmore Girls revival, but not really something that would get me interested in reading Kondo’s book or watching her show.

Then, all hell broke loose. Because Marie Kondo recommends analyzing the books on your shelves and possibly paring them down. People called her evil and a monster, which is totally uncalled for. Disagree with her method all you want, but this sort of vilifying just shows you don’t have a great argument against it, or possibly not respecting Japanese culture.

After all the outrage, I wanted to see what Tidying Up and the KonMari method was all about. I was expecting like Clean Sweep or Clean House. Where the host swoops in with a massive crew, speeds the featured family through the process, and remodels a room with storage from some big corporate sponsor. Those shows were entertaining, but always seemed…off. It often seemed like they weren’t listening to the family, that they were just trying get the best before and after pictures. And they didn’t motivate me at all. I don’t have a massive crew and a corporate sponsor to make this process easier, or get get the results they did, so why bother?

Tidying Up is the antithesis of those sorts of shows. There is no crew. There is Marie Kondo and her translator. She explains her system, asks the family what they want from the process, helps the family apply the process with those goals in mind, and then leaves them to do the work. She doesn’t tell them they need to get rid of anything. She just asks them to look at each item and decide if it “sparks joy.” If it doesn’t, you appreciate the item for what it’s done and get rid of it. If it does, you store it in a way that’s visible and neat looking.

That storage isn’t a big organizing thing from a corporate sponsor either. Instead Kondo uses things the family already has like shoe boxes and plastic totes that could be used better. She’s not trying to sell you anything. There’s not even a “for more information, buy my book” type of thing.

Tidying Up isn’t just a refreshing take on home shows, it’s a refreshing take on the minimalist trend. I hesitate to even call it part of the minimalist trend, because minimalism isn’t the point. Enjoying your environment is, and if enjoying that environment involves walls of books (or in my case, shelves of CDs and records) then that’s awesome and you should do that. Just do it mindfully.

I’m slowly going through her method after watching the show. I’ve put the book on hold at the library, and started paring down my clothes. Changing my mode of thinking from “is this useful” to “is this something I’ll use/enjoy” has really helped me reframe the way I look at the things I own. Not having to buy a bunch of stuff to get started, has made me actually get started.

Thanks for the outrage internet, I would have never considered this if not for you.

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