The Japanese reality TV show, available on Netflix, is taking the world by storm – precisely because nothing happens in it, unlike our favourite ITV2 show. Don't expect any under-the-cover sexy time, striptease challenges or blazing rows, but prepare for some mental relaxation and a decent opportunity to flex your concentration muscles (thanks to the subtitles).
Terrace House consists of six good-looking men and women living in an impeccably designed house in Japan that could double up as a Muji showroom, rather than the bog-standard British-style terrace you might have imagined, given its name. Hidden cameras are planted around the place to capture the wild goings-on – from who's scrubbing the pool to who's having a kip on the sofa. Truly riveting stuff.
The contestants can spend months in the friend zone, never getting beyond discussions of what they ate for dinner, who's at work and, on rare occasions, "who they fancy". Their interactions are so genteel and refined that it's easy to forget you're watching a reality show at all, given what we've come to expect from British reality TV. There are no attention-seeking showoffs or loudmouths gunning for a slanging match – and thank god. This is a dating show for anyone who enjoys watching others navigate the nuances of budding romance at a more realistic slug's pace.
“You're almost like, what am I watching? There's nothing here. I just watched 30 minutes of Japanese people being awkward — how do they make this into a show?” Elliot Gay, a professional video game translator and Japanese pop culture blogger, told Buzzfeed. However, most people seem to agree that the fact that nothing happens only makes the show more endearing.
Terrace House had been going for eight seasons on Japan's Fuji Television before Netflix noticed its potential and collaborated with the channel to make more episodes in 2015. There's Boys x Girls in the City, set in Tokyo, in which "all [the cast] get is a fabulous home and a car", and the more recent Aloha State, which sees a new group of strangers jetting off to Hawaii.
We know laptop time before bed isn't healthy, but why not download a blue-light filter and pop on some Terrace House the next time your anxious, busy or otherwise agitated brain is stopping you from nodding off?