TV Review: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo


Japan’s decluttering expert Marie Kondo helps people to clean up their homes and spark joy in their lives.

Our review:

Let me preface this by saying I’m not a neat person and I love acquiring things. I have been known to leave shoes by the front door for days, keep new clothes in shopping bags on my dining room table until I plan to wear them and to avoid ironing like my life depends on it.

Despite my lackadaisical approach to tidying my own home, I’m fascinated by how other people tidy and organise theirs. I follow professional organisers like Life In Jeneral and Simply Organized on social media and read (half of) Marie Kondo’s first book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up when it came out in 2015.

Netflix’s Tidying Up is essentially a series of American families putting the tips from Kondo’s book in to practice. 

Kondo and her translator Marie Iide sweep in to systematically help her clients comb through their belonging and cull excess. Kondo’s patient and bright-eyed demeanour is the star of the show. She doesn’t judge the clients on their mess, rather encourages them to improve their living conditions and be grateful for their possessions.

Watching the episodes, I start to wonder if my life would be better if, instead of a pile of roughly folded items in my dresser draw, my shirts were folded into tiny neat squares and sorted by colour? If my pantry was organised by product type and expiry date? If my garage looked like something out of a Better Homes and Gardens episode?

The truth is, though, even if Marie Kondo transformed my home into something out of a glossy magazine my life would still be what it is now, just a bit neater.

This is evident in each episode. While the houses look great, Kevin from episode one still has thinly- veiled resentment for his wife, Margie from episode four still grieves for her dead husband and the empty-nesters in episode two still struggle with living as a couple rather than a family.

Tidying Up also highlights the underlying issue with the division of labour in American households. In every episode the woman divulges she feels the mess is hers to fix and that she’s letting down the family by not keeping the house shipshape. The men, on the other hand, don’t seem apologetic or take much responsibility for how the house became untidy in the first place – Ron from episode two even admits "Cleaning the house definitely wasn't my priority, but it would definitely be hers”.

Despite these issues, Tidying Up did inspire me to clean out my study nook and organise my craft supplies. 

As an inherently untidy person, I don’t think Kondo’s method will change my habits long-term, but a thorough Kondo-inspired clean up every year or so will definitely help.

Rating: 3/5

Related reads: Practical tips fromTidying Up.