Marie Kondo shares her declut­tering phi­losophy in new Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Courtesy | Wiki­media Commons

Does it spark joy?

It’s a mis­lead­ingly simple question.

When you hold some­thing you own, do you feel a little bubble of hap­piness? A flutter in your heart? If yes, keep it. If not, get rid of it.

That’s Marie Kondo’s phi­losophy, which she explores in her new Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.

Marie Kondo is the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” host of the Marie Kondo YouTube channel, and the creator of the KonMari method. The method pro­motes a process of total life declut­tering, including cleaning out by cat­egory rather than by room, as many other declutter experts rec­ommend. But what is essential to the KonMari method is the instruction to dispose of any­thing that doesn’t “spark joy.”

The eight-episode first season follows Kondo as she acts as a con­sultant for several fam­ilies, helping them declutter their lives using the KonMari method. Along the way, Kondo gives declut­tering tips to both the family and to the viewer directly.

Kondo splits items into five cat­e­gories: clothing, books, papers, komono (mis­cel­la­neous, including kitchen and garage), and sen­ti­mental items. The Netflix series shows how she works with fam­ilies to deal mostly with clothing, komono, and sen­ti­mental items.

She begins each con­sul­tation by greeting the home, thanking it for the shelter it gives. It’s an action seem­ingly inspired by Eastern phi­losophy — and often sur­prises the family. She then walks through the home to assess the damage.

Many fam­ilies seem to struggle with copious amounts of clothing or extra kitchen equipment, rather than the knick-knacks or mean­ing­lessly full shelves we often think of when we imagine “clutter.” While the fam­ilies may have brought these objects in their homes out of a “need,” many of them sit untouched in closets or drawers.

Each family has called in Kondo for dif­ferent reasons. The first episode works with the Friend family, who are trying to sim­plify their mate­ri­al­istic and con­sumeristic lifestyles. Other call in Kondo to deal with moving problems, or post-retirement pileup.

But Kondo’s phi­losophy always stays the same: Does an item spark joy?

Nothing that brings someone joy can be con­sidered clutter. If it makes you happy, then it’s nec­essary.

Kondo walks fam­ilies through the process of not only fil­tering through their pos­ses­sions to keep only the neces­sities, but how to properly store the sur­viving items. Clothing gets folded to be “filed” in drawers. Toys and tools are stored in clear bins. Pic­tures and mem­o­ra­bilia are arranged in a display.

Kondo does all these things cheer­fully, with patience and lightness. She bounces around, touching items to “wake,” them and gig­gling over babies in the homes. And while the show is tech­ni­cally reality tele­vision, Kondo’s brightness and care makes it feel genuine.  She clearly enjoys what she does and takes pride in her business and helping others.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is essen­tially an easy-viewing, beginner’s guide to declut­tering based on the KonMari method and hosted by the creator herself. Kondo shows not only the family her method, but explicitly shows the audience spe­cific tricks they can use. It tricks them into thinking it’s really that simple, sparks moti­vation to throw away the closet, and launches the viewer down a path to finding joy by cleaning out their life.

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Jordyn Pair
Jordyn Pair is from Milford, Michigan and plans to study Rhetoric and Public Address and Journalism. She has previously written for Spinal Column and The Madonna Herald, Madonna University's school newspaper. She enjoys writing, photography, and videography, as well as choir, martial arts, and blogging. She plans to pursue a career in journalism. email: | twitter: @jordynpair