Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City TV Poster Image
Unique format can't save mediocre Japanese reality series.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show observes human interactions in a controlled environment, and its unscripted nature means there's no predicting where conversations will go. Some jokes poke fun at traditional gender roles, as when the guys fake presumption that the girls will do the cooking for the group. A panel of commentators has fun at the stars' expense at times and merely ponders the meaning of their words and actions toward others. Because the show is set in Japan, it exposes viewers to traditions that are different from their own.

Positive Role Models & Representations

On the whole, this cast is a decent group of young adults, all of whom are working toward their life goals. They get along as well as can be expected for strangers thrown together as roommates, and when disagreements arise, they deal with them in mostly constructive ways.

Violence
Sex

With young adults cohabiting in close quarters, hints at and outright discussions about sexuality are to be expected. There's much flirting and some dating, and some couples emerge from the crowd. In later episodes, a man and a woman move into their own bedroom once they're deemed to be a serious couple. Men express their enjoyment at seeing women in swimsuits.

Language

"Damn."

Consumerism

Some brand names such as Under Armour and Toyota on products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The young adults often drink in social settings and at meals, and there are times when they're shown to be under the influence.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City is an unscripted Japanese reality series that's subtitled and follows a group of millennials who move into a house together in Tokyo. There's a predictable level of flirting, much drinking (though rarely in excess), some griping at roommates, and a few romantic relationships that invite conversations about sex and show a couple sharing a room for part of the show. There's also the unique addition of a panel of (occasionally snarky) commentators who weigh in on the show's cast and content as it progresses, giving it a new element of drama. This series offers viewers a glimpse into modern Japanese culture and gender roles as they're presented by the stars' experiences.

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What's the story?

The reality series TERRACE HOUSE: BOYS AND GIRLS IN THE CITY assembles six strangers to be roommates in a luxurious house in Tokyo. The participants -- three men and three women, all under the age of 29 -- hail from different backgrounds and are chasing different life goals, but this shared experience promises to influence them in surprising ways. Between scenes set in the house are offsite segments in which a panel of six commentators dish on what's happening at Terrace House.

Is it any good?

Though certainly not a unique setup in the reality TV world, this show's built-in chatter circle gives it a distinct quality that will appeal to viewers who love on-screen drama. No matter how mundane the events inside Terrace House (choosing beds and deciding as a group what's for dinner, for instance), the commentary team always finds something to gossip about. Often that winds up being more entertaining to watch than the roommates themselves.

On the upside, Terrace House's cast of millennials is a mostly appealing group, all gainfully employed and/or pursuing degrees at local universities. They have their share of disagreements, but they're generally polite and considerate, which really offsets the usual stresses of cohabiting. And although reading subtitles can be tiresome for non-Japanese speakers, the show's Tokyo setting exposes viewers to some elements of Japanese culture.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the draw of reality series such as Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City. Is it hard to believe the content is entirely organic and spontaneous? Do you think watching your own life would be entertaining enough for TV?

  • How does this series present young adults? Are they responsible? Goal-oriented? Selfish? Realistic? How does this compare with your knowledge of today's teens and 20-somethings? What messages does their lifestyle send about sex?

  • What differences do you notice between your culture and the modern Japanese experience? To what degree does each new generation break ties with past traditions?

TV details

For kids who love reality TV

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