Let me ask you a question: Do you know about Marie Kondo?
Of course you do! Everyone does! The whole world has gone Kondo Krazy. I don’t know about you, but my Instagram and Feedly feed is brimming with images and posts and videos of neatly folded clothing, scaled down closets and piles of “komono” to be sold, donated or thrown out.
KonMari, or the art of tidying and organizing, originated with Marie Kondo’s 2014 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I never read it, but I heard about it and understood the premise: Uncluttering by going through all of your possessions in the five main categories and deciding if the item “sparks joy.” If it does, it stays. If not, thank it and let it go. Like, forever.
KonMari is back in the consciousness and our Instagram feeds for two main reasons: 1) New Year’s Eve resolutions and 2) in a moment of pure marketing genius, Netflix released the first season of its show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” And, here’s the genius part: they released it on New Year’s Day, right when everyone was itching to tackle those resolutions to unclutter but still wanted to procrastinate a little bit longer by binge watching a show about uncluttering.
I have a third theory about why we’re all obsessed with purging and organizing right now which is this: the world feels completely out of control, so we want to control something, anything. Our own home environment is a place where we can start and feel some sense of control and order in the midst of all the chaos.
Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a full-on minimalist, but I’m a notorious purger. In fact, I’ve actually thrown away perfectly good money (albeit, on accident). Just saying: I am pretty ruthless. (I also accidentally threw away a box of jewelry once during a move. Mostly sentimental stuff, but still. Gone. I didn’t even turn the car around to go through the dumpster to look for it. I know full well that the Kondo Krazies can have unintended consequences, as this Georgia family also knows.) KonMari with Kare, y’all.
Anyway, the point is I really don’t get too attached to stuff. I donate and get rid of items on a constant basis. This was especially true after consciously uncoupling from my office job. I donated so. Many. Clothes. Bags and bags of office-appropriate suits, blazers, skirts, pants, sweaters, work tops, belts and shoes went to our local Goodwill. I didn’t even bother to try to sell or consign stuff. I just wanted it all out.
I also secretly dream that in another life I was probably a professional organizer. I love to organize and bring order to some chaos. And literally, everyone is talking about this show. Even my manicurist when I got my nails done recently was gushing about it. So, of course, I watched.
Dear reader, I could only take about 20 minutes of the first episode before I started to feel all itchy and annoyed.
The best way I can describe it is: “Hoarders” meets “Super Nanny” with a dash of some therapy thrown in. Because, like in the vein of other redemptive-themed reality shows like “Hell’s Kitchen” or “Bar Rescue,” Marie Kondo isn’t just there to help people declutter and clean. No, no, no. She’s also there to help save the family relationships. Through the magic of tidying up, of course.
So just like in “Super Nanny” where Joe the Nanny would be brought in to ostensibly help discipline the kids, the real lesson is that the parents are the ones who need help in learning how to be a parent. (On a related note, here’s a very interesting article in how the show is exposing gender biases, ie: society expects women to be the home/memory keepers and women feel they are overwhelmed and failing. Very fascinating.)
Back to the show: The first episode featured the very telegenic Friend family, who, quite honestly, had a very nice home. Obviously, the very telegenic mom probably had too many clothes but not a totally unmanageable or unreasonable amount, in my opinion. And yes, the kitchen was definitely a bit of a disaster (I mean, who doesn’t throw away leftovers before the TV crew shows up?).
No, what bothered me about the Friends wasn’t the “mess” but just were how needy they appeared. They kept trying to get Marie Kondo to validate that they weren’t that bad and begging her to confirm that sometimes, she’s disorganized, too, and they were just normal people who have to hire someone to come and fold their laundry for them. Honey, if you weren’t that bad, our little Kondo sprite friend wouldn’t be there.
Also, y’all do know that Ms. Kondo is shilling products, right? She’s got her own line of boxes that she’s selling for $89. For boxes. That she displays/product places all over the show. Listen my little organizers: if you are looking for boxes, I got ’em. I get fresh new boxes almost every damn day from Amazon (catkid items) or Sephora (Poe goods). They may not be as cute and pastel as those Kondo boxes, but I’d be willing to sell them to you for a deeply discounted price of $80 per set.
I set “Tidying Up” aside and went back to it a couple of weeks later. I finally got through the rest of the Friend’s episode (and their embarrassing comment about how tidying up has improved their sex life) and went to the next one, which were these empty nesters, the Akiyamas.
That was it for me. They had so, so much stuff. It was insane. Mrs. Akiyama had clothes stuffed in like, four different bedroom closets and Mr. Akiyama had a whole wall of boxes of baseball cards piled precariously on top of each other in the master bedroom. And the Christmas decorations. I just could not. Watching the teeny tiny Marie Kondo skip over the dangerous piles of crap while giggling gave me hives.
I managed to watch it all the way through and guess what? The Empty Nesters did get rid of a TON of stuff, but they still kept a TON of stuff! The closets were still full and boxes and boxes of stuff still lined the walls all over their house.
Oh, and while clearing out, they found a whole collection of these little Japanese dolls (probably like, 100 of them) and they decided those (THE WHOLE COLLECTION) “sparked joy” and they were going to keep them and display them. In their garage. No doubt, these antique dolls were beautiful, but the whole collection? In the garage? It was too much for me.
While our blessed saint of organization Marie Kondo is totally and completely judgement free in the face of incredible mounds of acquired (and even newly discovered) crap, I find that I am not. I can’t help but judge and I was judging. Harshly.
I had to give up on Netflix’s Tidying Up. I’m turning it off and going back to RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 4, which is messy, messy, messy in all the best ways.