Marie Kondo’s “Tidying Up” Lovingly Drags the Depressed, Defeated Viewer into 2019

It’s not happenstance that suddenly everyone you know is sharing memes about whether or not something sparks joy for them; we are all deeply in the thrall of the Netflix adaptation of Marie Kondo’s hit book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizingalso called Tidying Up. The book caused a lot of chatter back when it was released in 2014, because Marie Kondo’s essential premise — that you can organize your life and for once, experience the sensation of having your shit together — was so tantalizing. Going into the early days of 2019, most of us deeply traumatized by an indescribably chaotic and harrowing year, we have never been more drawn to this fantasy. Furthermore, the promise of the Netflix adaptation is the experience of Marie Kondo showing up in person in your literal home to hold your stupid, useless trash in her hands and smile beatifically. If you got through 2018 without clinging desperately to the fantasy of a beautiful stranger showing up in your home and telling you she believes in you and sitting with you supportively while you sort through the eight pairs of Vans your ex somehow managed to leave at your place, first of all congrats and second please pipe down because this is all the rest of us have, please just let us. The organizationally challenged, overwhelmed and laundry-avoidant people featured on these eight episodes of Tidying Up are us.

1. Kevin and Rachel

Kevin and Rachel are a good couple to think about if you’re bemoaning why you couldn’t have just been born the kind of straight woman who is truly delighted by those novelty wine glasses that hold an entire bottle of wine, like your cousin, and life would be so much easier and no one would tiptoe around you at the holidays. You don’t really want that, because then you’d also be married to Kevin. You can relate to Rachel’s general air of exhausted frustration without having to be married to Kevin or necessarily owning her Squad Goals tank top.


a heartfelt address to the generic store brand vitamin d pills i am hoping will somehow address this seasonal depression or whatever like, my whole deal is. maybe i need more iron

2. Wendy and Ron

Wendy and Ron are the two sweetest people who have ever housed an entire Christmas Tree Shop inside their home and they deserve everything good in life, as does their briefly featured son.

i love this candid photo of kayla kumari upadhyaya

agreeing to one last closure processing session with your ex

3. Katrina and Douglas

Katrina brings all the energy you would want when competing in the Hunger Games or leading a herd of elephants over the Pyrenees to invade a neighboring nation to the concept of home life, and honestly I would die for her, in addition to her outrageously charming children. May we all bring Katrina’s determination to making other people’s lives functional to… ourselves.

immediately before you have a problem

speaking out loud to your pet about the direction your life has taken

4. Margie

Margie lost her husband nine months ago and honestly there isn’t really anything wry or funny to say about that other than that she seems truly grief-stricken and of course you feel for her and the emotional impact of hearing Marie Kondo agree to bend her extremely specific house-organizing order of operations so that Margie can just get the process of going through her dead husband’s things over with is — well, it’s something! One of the most delightful things about Margie is how often she expresses intense distress by throwing her hands over her face and laughing and crying at the same time, which is more relatable than you are maybe ready for.


presenting an objectively bad decision to the group chat

5. Matt and Frank

Matt and Frank come in a very close second as the most lesbian couple on this show, which is saying something since the top spot is taken only by married lesbians. Their first date lasted for three days, they seem to have moved in with each other essentially immediately and their primary concern is somehow impressing upon their parents the seriousness of their relationship via the cleanliness of their house.

morning affirmation

that is beautiful. i very much still am though

6. Aaron and Sehnita

Honestly I can’t think about Aaron for too long or it will give me a migraine. Marie Kondo isn’t going to appear in my home to rub my temples through my migraine or cement Aaron into a wall, so let’s focus on thinking about how nice it was that Sehnita ultimately felt good about getting rid of some things and also learned how to fold scarves of varying sizes.

big talking to men mood

7. Mario and Clarissa

I realize upon revisiting this episode in my memory that I know nothing about Clarissa other than that she is pregnant and apparently brought white eyeliner on a vacation to Cabo — was she doing the thing where you line your inner waterline with white to make yourself look more awake or is there something we’re doing with white eyeliner that I don’t know about? Mario is stunning in his turn cosplaying Autostraddle fashion writer Mika Albornoz, who would also need to undergo an accelerated period of personal growth before being able to admit that any of his shoe collection might not entirely spark joy.

jan 1 2019

8. Alishia and Angela

What did we do to deserve Alishia and Angela? They are the perfect couple to gently ease us out of Marie Kondo’s dreamscape and back into the real world; who needs ASMR when you have a loving lesbian couple gently bickering over soy sauce! Obviously the episode featuring the LHB is the one where we learn how to effectively fold hoodies. Leak the wedding album!! We deserve it!!

2 be whispered as you delete the number of that girl you went on two dates with and had started picking out the names of your children with before you found out she believes the earth is flat

In conclusion, if you just need a primer on all the folding stuff (valid!), here’s a post that shows you in gifs. Yours in tidiness, etc.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. When Rachel dumps Kevin’s contemptuous ass I hope her friends throw her a huge party and Marie and Marie attend to congratulate her on finally completing the process by disposing of that last piece of refuse.

    • When Rachel leaves Kevin I hope she never does her own laundry again, I hope she puts something in the divorce settlement that he has to personally pay for laundry service for her and the children forever and ever amen, paid for with that 60-70 hour workweek of his

      • I’m not usually the kind of person who sees a couple and thinks “damn, this whole mess is a divorce waiting to happen” but IN THIS CASE


    *Marie Kondo is a pocket-sized fairy godmother who keeps telling the mothers they shouldn’t have to be taking care of everyone else’s shit and gently reminds people they don’t have to part with the things that are important to them

    *I want every single straight woman on this show to divorce their husbands IMMEDIATELY, watching the Friend family (Kevin and Rachel) was, as you say, ENTIRELY EFFECTIVE at reminding me to no longer be jealous of my straight friends just because they get free sperm (I’m sperm shopping at the moment it’s a whole thing)

    *Aaron is quite possibly the long-lost brother of my First Boyfriend, and that whole episode gave me hives

    *Do Alishia and Angela want to adopt me and raise me as their child?


    Okay, that’s all, I’m done

    • I married a cis guy and while I have very much appreciated the sperm that comes free of charge, yes, it does come at a price (today I’m suffering at the hands of the bonus chores that come with a very severe man cold- “my head hurts a little”).

  3. This is the Marie Kondo hot take I’ve been waiting my whole life for the past ten days for.

    If there’s ever a queer irl spark joy gallery, I am sooooo prepared.

  4. P.S. Does anyone have a gif of Marie Kondo perching atop that giant pile of clothes from episode 2 and literally looking like she is going to fly off back to the closet to get more clothes to put on the pile because it is an UTTER DELIGHT

  5. what i learned from this article is:

    1. i need to watch this show immediately


    2. if you are close friends with rachel she will attack you on the internet and you will enjoy it

  6. In the time it has taken me to try and fail to corral my thoughts about this show, half the AS regular commenters have already chimed in. Never mind sparks joy, this show sparks FEELINGS.

    My rapidfire take:

    Kevin: trAAAaash

    Wendy and Ron: i would pay literal money to adopt them as my new grandparents. This is not a joke

    A&A: both extremely cute and valid

    Frank and Matt: the anxious, high-achieving, sentimental mess called me out, wow. Also, can I come by for game night?

    Marie Kondo: what an ironclad brand of perfect smiling opacity. I’m in awe.

    Marie Iida: give it up for the woman who made this all possible

    • by the end of the series i had imprinted on marie iida like a baby duck and just hearing her voice dropped my heartrate by like 20 bpm. does she have a podcast

  7. Somehow I’ve known about Marie since her book came out but had no idea how adorable she was!

    Also, shame on literally every review of her book because as far as I was aware it was about nothing but folding diagrams and not like… literally everything else. I actually put the show on for background noise while cleaning (I like to be thematic) but got sucked in by the cute and also my various plans to choke Kevin with the laundry he so childishly refuses to pay someone else to do.

  8. Did Kevin give anyone else serious Riley Finn vibes? Like Riley married his fascinating manic pixie dream girl but now it’s ten years later and he just can’t understand why she isn’t ironing his boxers.

    • When they looked at a photo from their wedding and he says “you looked so hot babe” I kicked my television directly into the ocean

  9. look i haven’t seen this show but every new year i throw out so much crap. “joy” isn’t a part of it. it’s “does this have any utility at all or is it sentiment and if it’s sentiment, why did i forget i owned this”

    last week was the closet. i now own about two weeks worth of clothes, and all my socks match.

    today was my art room. this is the hardest because old art is memories, but my grandpa is dying right now and guess what? it’s a pain in the ass going through a lifetimes worth of hoarded paintings / sketches / sketchbooks. it’s not a part of a current project, and i will never be able to sell it? throw it the fuck out

    gotta be ruthless

    my art room is a stack of prints I’m doing for a June artist of the month show and three folders – finished zines that need printing, unfinished zines that i’m not ready to give up on yet even tho i started them years ago (burnout is real), and pictures i might be able to one day collect in a zine

    at which point i will toss the originals bc i have no room for all this crap

    • games i bought when i imagined that the one thing between me and an active social life was owning scrabble: gone

      soap i don’t use and lotions that didn’t work tossed until i’m one of those people who uses castile soap for everything and then just has that and one giant bottle of conditioner in their shower

      do i ever have friends over? no? then why do i own more than one water glass? fork? three spoons, really?? i have two bowls.i have never needed two bowls. all this does is let me pile up dishes.

      i’m like one unopened DVD i bought last year at rite aid away from just burning the entire place down

      • I do not know you, and there is a high chance we do not live in the same continent. Yet I managed to get offended that you would never have me over were I your friend. I guess I have new things to tell my therapist.

        Still, good luck with the selecting, and hope you get to spend as much time as possible with your grandpa.

        • my grandpa is a HOOT right now because he thinks it’s the cold war and tells us to Remember To Take The Files To The NSA, all top secret like

          I’m sorry that I probably wouldn’t have you over if we were friends

          I’m sorry that I don’t have my actual friends over

          I’m sorry that I hung up art and pictures and decorated a home that no one ever sees

          • Oh wow. The grandpa sounds intense. Hope the secretiveness can be fun for him too!

            But come on, you do see your home decoration, that’s not no one. Hope you can have the actual friends over one day, if you want.

          • Hope the grandpa can have fun with the secrecy too!

            And also, come on, you do see your home decoration, that’s not no one. Hope you can have (an) actual friend(s) at some point if you want.

  10. the concept of marie kondo’s tidying up my house stresses me out bc i’m like a dragon who hoards Possessions That Made Me Feel Good That Time I Was Sad And Also Near Target

    • relatedly any and everything i’ve ever bought w my own money Sparks Joy and therefore i must keep it forever

  11. In episode 1, I couldn’t stop thinking about the “dinner party” episode of “The Office”:

  12. “agreeing to one last closure processing session with your ex”

    I haven’t watched this yet, but since I’m moving in two weeks I plan on watching it as I decide what I’ll take with me, box stuff and drink wine.

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