American reality television has, in recent years, become so ubiquitous and hypertrophied as to be staid. All the moves are telegraphed, all the story lines exhausted. Which is why the Japanese reality show “Terrace House” — the first iteration of which dates back to 2012 — feels so refreshing. It moves at a leisurely pace. It asks little of its participants. It soothes rather than rankles.
While “Terrace House” has gradually gained international acclaim after stints in Tokyo and Hawaii that aired on Netflix from 2015 to 2017, its current season, called “Opening New Doors,” has solidified the show’s status as an international phenomenon. Set in the smallish city of Karuizawa, it has featured an unlikely love match, the return of one of the show’s memorable figures, several people suffering from romantic butterfingers and a surprising acceptance of acid jazz as viable pop music.
Netflix recently released the fourth batch of “Opening New Doors” episodes. So three New York Times superfans — Jon Caramanica, Andrew R. Chow and Amanda Hess — engaged in one of the show’s greatest pastimes, commentary on “Terrace House,” charting the highs (the beautiful male tears!), the lows (get out of here, Taka!) and the questions (how does Noah drink so much off camera?) of the engrossing and enchanting “Opening New Doors.”