Tidying Up with Marie Kondo
Just as Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, caused a sensation when it was first translated into English in 2014, the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has sent viewers into a cleaning frenzy, offloading more unwanted items than charity stores know what to do with. On the show, the Japanese organising consultant and author helps a variety of Americans (empty nesters, a gay couple, a widow, young families) follow the book’s principles to eliminate clutter from their homes. Kondo is a doll-like presence: tiny, primly dressed and indefatigably smiley, even when she’s literally tripping over mountains of junk.
The KonMari method (yep, she’s branded it) proposes that if an object doesn’t “spark joy”, it should be thanked, then removed from the home. The series allows Kondo to show us exactly what sparking joy looks like, complete with sound effects. “Chung!” she exclaims, wide-eyed, after a joyful demonstration with an old jumper. Meanwhile, opening one woman’s jumbled “catch-all” drawer appears to deliver a kind of erotic thrill. “I love tidying and I love mess!” Kondo declares.
The benefits of a Kondo cleanout typically extend beyond a tidier home: fraying relations are mended, long-dormant libidos are sparked along with joy, and there’s a sense of mental calm to match the domestic order. But the show I’d really like to see is Tidying Up: One Year On. Will the clothes still be folded origami-like and arranged neatly in drawers? Will homes remain serene temples of organisation, everything in its right place and sparking joy? My guess is no, and that around the world most households will once again reflect life as we know it: messy and chaotic, with the odd spark of joy.