CULTURE & ARTS

Let's Imagine The First Episode Of The Kondo 'Tidying' Sitcom

A study in three scenes.

Feb 2015: "It wasn’t obvious at the outset that a book by a Japanese home-organizing consultant would translate across cultures." 

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Oct 2015: "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up [a half-hour comedy show] centers on a young woman in a moment of crisis who attempts to get her messy life in order."

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"Everybody comes here. This is Hollywood, land of dreams."

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Setting: A living room in Tokyo. In the center sits a red sectional couch, the same one from "How I Met Your Mother." In fact, the room is the same one as in "How I Met Your Mother." It’s the only living room in Hollywood.

A heap of clothes obscures all but a few telltale patches of red couch. The chaos echoes through the apartment. It is of a genteel "Japanese" kind. Stacks of books rise in towers on the floor. Empty tea cups litter the coffee table. An easel propping up a muted canvas holds fashionable coats and scarves on its eaves. Curled shells and dried starfish stud the walls.

Enter a white man. By his dress, he could be a student or a young professional in his off-hours: jeans, hoodie, printed T-shirt. He looks like Ted from "How I Met Your Mother."

MAN: Meiki?

The clothes pile starts to quiver. Suddenly, an adorable head pokes through. It belongs to a young Japanese woman, played by Emma Stone.

WOMAN: (In delicate, almost imperceptible accent.) Yes?

[AUDIENCE CHUCKLES AND APPLAUDS]

MAN: Well, this looks normal.

[AUDIENCE EMITS SHARP BURST OF LAUGHTER, LIKE PEPPER SPRAY]

WOMAN: Step one. (Out of the clothes heap she raises a dainty finger, her eyes suddenly wide.) I promise, everything will be transformed soon enough. I am in a moment of crisis soon to end. First thing’s first, though: pile all the clothes onto a single surface.

MAN: (Audible sigh.) Yes, you told me yesterday, when I found you in a corner of your closet. Or, you didn’t so much tell me as chant that directive to yourself, over and over. Loud enough so I could hear.

[AUDIENCE LAUGHS HEARTILY, LIKE AN ELEPHANT AFTER A GOOD MEAL]

WOMAN: I detect your sarcasm, Dan. Apparently those who teach English in a Japanese public school system for a year while Snapchatting for the entertainment of liberal arts friends back home are not always intellectually curious.

MAN: I guess I just don’t see how a slim book on cleaning can possibly act as a foundation for a sitcom.

WOMAN: You are saying you doubt the potential of our source material? 

MAN: Yes.

WOMAN: Have you even read it? Socks are alive, dear friend Dan. If this is not grounds for televisual magic, what is? Now watch as I thrill you. I begin by touching each item for energy transfer. I am determining which spark joy, which I should keep, which to discard.

Emma Stone shakes herself out of the clothes and moves to stand behind the couch. She extracts a black garment from the pile. She holds it against her face.

MAN: So this is …

WOMAN: SHHH. No sound is to break my concentration. I am engaged in the cleaning version of the ancient Japanese art known as tei-at. White devils know this as “healing.”

[END SCENE]

A mostly silent montage rolls. The woman stays in her same position behind the couch, picking up various items, feeling them, casting each either to her right or left. Man moves in and out of frame. Sometimes he’s eating cereal, or doing pushups. By his changing outfits and the light outside the window, we gather that days are passing. The audience laughs at random, like subatomic particles in a breeze.

[END SCENE]

The couch now holds only a small pile of clothes. A pair of jeans, a few sweaters, a handful of dresses. All look stylish and new. By the door hulk four large black trash bags. Emma Stone crouches next to the one closest to the door. She appears to have opened it, and is in the process, it seems, of inspecting its contents.

The man known as Dan walks in.

MAN: Well, what’s happening now?

WOMAN: Dan-san. I can’t do it. The clothes hold too tight a grip on my spirit, and I must rescue them from the trash. Such is the consumerist nightmare we collectively dream. What can I say? I need more time to speak a mix of wisdom and gibberish in my accent -- which is appropriately faint, don't you think? And to learn from your no-nonsense sensibilities. Thank goodness for Episode 2!

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