“If it makes you happy, it can’t be that ba-aaa-aaaad,” warbled Sheryl Crow. But now here comes Japanese clutter-killer Marie Kondo to tell you that some of what you once thought was making you happy should be sincerely thanked for its service and dumped.
There’s more: having Kondo in your condo can work wonders for your relationship, as well as on your mountain of overwhelmingly useless stuff, it seems. Which is perhaps the most remarkable lesson taken away from Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, the newly released eight-part Netflix series on organising your life by blitzing your books, waging war on your wardrobes and clearing out your kitchen.
Kondo emerged as the queen of clean five years ago with her first book on eliminating household junk. Today, the foot soldiers in her ever-expanding empire are the consultants trained in her trademarked KonMari method of tidying. Meanwhile, in keeping with her rise as a television star, the Tokyo-native has been absorbing Los Angeles, in whose environs we meet the poor unfortunates in need of a life-affirming possessions purge.
A “world-renowned tidying expert”, according to her PR tagline, ever-smiling assassin Kondo is on a “mission is to spark joy in the world through tidying”. And although that might sound insufferably twee, as the series progresses her minimalist (but hardly ascetic) approach to life and all the things with which we fill it has an unforeseen effect on a stressed family with two toddlers, a tearful widow, empty-nester retirees, newlyweds, two writers and more.
Clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous objects and items of sentimental value are assessed for the joy they do or don’t elicit, then retained and stored in their proper places, or tenderly held and thanked (almost spiritually) before being sent to the “eject” pile. The effect is profound; and although the temptation is to suggest the whole business might be just the latest fetish for an unsuspecting Westernised world, a Japanese-American couple are equally dazzled by Kondo’s approach.
Such is the burden that this high priestess of order and method lifts from her grateful acolytes that much more than their chaotic closets are transformed: rocks-bound unions flourish again and sudden mutual understanding puts the happiness back into homes. At times, Kondo seems like a misrepresented marriage-guidance counsellor.
Our hard-wired inclination may be to jam our caves with things we think might help us survive. But here, that insipid cliché “less is more” becomes invested with meaning at the hands of a suburban sprite banishing the mess of our own making. “I want to appreciate what I have, instead of needing more,” says one convert.
Perhaps this is the marvel of television: watching other people air their literal dirty linen in public – and their unwashed pots and unmade beds – then suffer global humiliation in exchange for a modern miracle.
Amazon Prime’s The Purge asks what would happen if, for 12 hours, all crimes were made legal?
Now for a different type of purge courtesy of The Purge, on Amazon Prime. With the tenth and final episode of series one now streaming, this taut, gory successor to the four-film franchise of the same name (and A Clockwork Orange) is now binge-watch ready.
It also solves a real-world mystery. Once a year the United States enjoys (or endures) 12 golden hours in which all crime – murder, rape, robbery or other indulgence – is legal. This mayhem happens with the blessing of the totalitarian police state established by the populist New Founding Fathers in the aftermath of economic calamity and societal collapse.
“God bless America … our great nation,” declares one sneering, middle-aged white sadist. So at last we know whence came the policies of today’s White House.