What I’m watching: Terrace House

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I got a little bored with Netflix after having seen The Crown (a show which I loved, by the way) and nothing else interested me (as in pinatulan ko na yung Trollhunters lol, though maganda naman and nadala ng pangalan ni Guillermo del Toro) so I was contemplating on ending my subscription when the latest season of Terrace House, the one set in Hawaii, showed up under new arrivals. Terrace House is sort of an international sleeper hit and I only learned about it from the cool kids I follow on Twitter, and later, in articles on The Verge and Wired. Anyway, Terrace House is a Japanese reality TV show, which is sort of like Big Brother in that the cast lives in one house and is followed by cameras everywhere, but the huge difference is that everyone is free to live their lives in the outside world (i.e., they still go to school, hold down jobs, go on mini breaks). They are also free to leave the show for good any time they want, in which case, someone replaces them in the house immediately.

In each episode, in between the “story” arcs (in quotes because the show stresses that it is unscripted), a group of titos and titas provide comic relief with their commentaries as titos and titas do in real life, but their collective wisdom is also highlighted as they provide insight down to the nonverbal cues of the housemates.

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The titos and titas, plus a token teenager. That guy in the glasses is soo funny.

The show almost serves as a dating show in that the cast members are all straight, mostly single, no more than a decade in age apart, and are almost always equally divided between girls and boys. There’s a missed opportunity to tackle more controversial subjects outside your usual boy-girl problems, but I suppose that’s where the appeal is: it’s almost like a palate cleanser to all the reality shows we’ve been consuming in the last decade which almost always contain drama or shockers or sexual content in them. The topic of sex in Terrace House (either in Aloha State or in its first Netflix season, Boys and Girls in the City or BGC) is treated in a matter-of-fact way, such that it’s no big deal when someone outside the show asks her younger sister, who is part of the cast, if she’s done it with her new boyfriend. (And the answer is yes, and older sister barely batted an eyelash.) But things do get exciting in Terrace House (particularly in BGC) and some topics remain up to debate for me. (Like, I still have a problem with the Meat Crime incident—I’m absolutely with Uchi on that one.) So far, there are no such crises in Aloha State (I’m done watching all eight episodes and now just waiting for the second batch), but the people are beautiful to watch, especially Lauren, and the vibe is just as laid back as the Hawaiian coastline.

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I will have what Phil’s having

I chanced upon this show while I was channel surfing. First impressions were: a) who is this? and b) no, not another food show. As it turned out, he’s Phil Rosenthal, creator of Everybody Loves Raymond; and no, it’s not another food show: five minutes in, I was smiling and completely charmed by his self-deprecating humor and his (sarcastic) lack of affection for his kids. (“I love demons, they remind me of my kids.” “I have three pictures of my children [in my phone] and 50,000 photos of what I ate.”)

The opening montage quickly explains how he went from growing up knowing nothing about food to how Everybody gave him the opportunity to travel and learn about different cuisines from around the world. Hence, the title of the show: I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, indicating how his background and taste are a lot more accessible to you and me. Sure, he’s traveling around the world, but the locations so far have been very mainstream: Tokyo, Hong Kong, Italy, Paris, Barcelona, and Los Angeles.

Ok, perhaps, he can’t get more relatable than this: he’s the only food host I’ve seen take pictures of his plate. So food-porn fanatics should feel no shame.

I got to see the Tokyo episode which, as it turned out, is the first of the six-part series. It was breathtaking to watch, particularly his experience at the Narisawa restaurant that boasts The Most Beautiful Meal in the World™ (at least, that’s what I’ll caption my Instagram post when I get to eat here), which looks like this:

It could have been ludicrous, really—the wood tablet came with wireless speakers that was livestreaming the sounds of a forest in Japan—but the theatricality and grandeur of the plating and the entire experience were simply too majestic for Phil, or me, as an outside viewer, to ridicule. The visuals and sound were that great.

Aside from featuring food, each episode also films him in a Skype conversation with his parents as he updates them on what he’s been up to in the city; and his parents are just as hilarious in the most endearing way possible.

DO WATCH THIS SHOW!