Review: “Get Organized With The Home Edit” is a commercial reality show

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Over the past month, my Instagram ads have been taking more and more shelf space. I don’t know what triggered the invasion; maybe it’s due to the fact that I followed a lot of vintage furniture stores, or maybe I searched for credenzas on Google once too many, or said out loud that my apartment would need more shelving and my phone was monitored. Through these ads I found out that there is a website called rayonnage.com, where you can buy mysterious industrial products like wire shelves that slide on rails, shelves for indoor farming, or an entire mezzanine, which is a shelf for humans. In the latest issues of London book review, I also noticed an advertisement for Vitsoe, the mid-century modern furniture company famous for its wall-mounted “universal shelving system,” which promises a utopian solution to your storage problems but can cost thousands of dollars. even for the smallest installation.

I was drawn to the images of empty shelves, pristine and full of potential, because after six months of quarantine in an apartment, I came to see the organization less as a luxury than as an urgent need. Our homes must be used more than ever during the pandemic – office, classroom, gymnasium, broadcast studio – and we have therefore acquired new equipment to facilitate this versatility. But where do we put the chin-up bar, Zoom microphone, or craft supplies? We want to be able to put things away so that we don’t have to think about them, banish them in a way much like we banish our anxieties in order to continue going about our daily business. Storage provides practical repression. As Gaston Bachelard writes in his book “The poetics of space”, From 1958,“ Cabinets with their shelves, desks with their drawers and chests with their false bottoms are veritable organs of secret psychological life. ”

With that in mind, Netflix’s latest reality show, “Get Organized with The Home Edit”, should be positively Freudian. It is named after an organizing agency, founded in 2015, by two friends who met in Nashville, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, and who host the show. In each episode, they undertake two tidying up projects, one for a celebrity, like Reese Witherspoon (also an executive producer), Khloé Kardashian or Neil Patrick Harris, and one for a normal family, whose house is much messier. With their team of assistants, who all have the same wavy hairstyles and signature black outfits, the hosts turn cluttered kitchens, offices and closets into neatly tidy spaces. Their main tools for doing this are vast collections of shelves and storage boxes, which organizers stack and nest endlessly. In the jargon of the show, these devices are called “product”, in the same way that hairdressers refer to conditioners or drug dealers. Both hosts are buzzing with fervor for energy drinks, but Teplin is generally upbeat while Shearer is the Daria of the house organization, doubting strategies or panicking over deadlines. They offer a flood of cleaning platitudes such as “small items don’t mean small work” and “choose between item or space”.

Although it had been developed and shot long before, “Get Organized” was touted as quarantine perfect content. Like an ASMR video, it creates a fantasy that it’s your own home getting organized, that it might be possible to impose logic and structure on the unknowable confusion of life right now starting with your possessions. . When the hosts show up to organize Kardashian’s garage, which is stocked with her little daughter’s collection of ride-on cars, she exclaims that she feels “a sense of relief.” (Their solution is to create a mini parking lot with black cones and pink tape for the strips.) During each fifteen or twenty minute segment, a system is imposed with its own logic and governance structure. Zones are created for specific types of props or supplies, which are diagrammed on the screen by text overlays, such as an architect’s drawing. Each area is given a label in a typeface created from Shearer’s curly cursive. The show should come with a trigger warning for librarians: Books, like clothing, art supplies, and board games, are sorted by color. In one episode, a Los Angeles youth center is subsumed by such rainbows, to a gradient of color codes on the closet doors.

“Get Organized,” if you haven’t noticed, is surprisingly similar to another of Netflix’s reality TV productions, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” which debuted in January 2019. Kondo’s famous rule was that everything that which does not arouse joy must be thrown away. She took care of the grabbers, empty nesters and a grieving widow, performing an emotionally charged cleansing ritual that referred to Kondo’s Shinto spirituality. But there is no emotion in “Get Organized”; it’s strangely bloodless, which is why it ends up being so unsatisfying. The strategy of Shearer and Teplin is written in the dry stages “Modify, categorize, contain and maintain”. “Purge” the things you don’t need, designate your zones, then put it all in clear plastic boxes, ideally on modular faux-Vitsoe shelves. The last step is the most difficult and remains largely ignored: things must stay in their boxes. In the “after” edits, each piece ends up looking alike, a monotonous plastic grid. Reality TV requires some sort of drama to be successful, even a minor one. With Kondo, it was the cathartic decision to sacrifice a previously loved item, but the biggest upheaval here is when Shearer and Teplin miscalculate the size of the bins needed. It’s the rare production that could have been better on the abbreviated Quibi mobile streaming service, as there are only ten minutes of meaningful content per episode.

“The Home Edit” is less of a show and more of an elaborate infomercial, the kind where people struggle with a grueling household chore in black and white, then relax in color when they get a miracle new product. The Shearer and Teplin brand was already a commercial machine, with two hardcover instruction books (one released right after the show’s launch); branches in nine cities offering organization up to two hundred and fifty dollars an hour; a series of Home Edit bins and labels for sale online; and over three million followers on Instagram, where they post pictures of neat drawers, funny video clips, and sponsored content for cleaning products. (The show’s subjects often proclaim fandoms that predate their appearances; Ali, a New York real estate agent with a messy kitchen, says she discovered them on the social media platform.) streaming generally represents a leap in terms of fame. , a transition from the small screen of social media to the more glamorous small screen, but in this case, Netflix just seems like another marketing channel for these organizing influencers. Kondo at least waited until the end of his show to launch an online store selling an exclusive collection of household accessories.

Kondo’s store and the Shearer and Teplin’s brands ultimately operate on the same mixed message: doing your stuff is easier if you buy even more. “Get Organized” does not address the issue of consumerism; there is no recognition of why the clutter is building up or the anxiety that causes people to obsess over “back stock”, the show’s term for food and supplies extra bulk that should be hidden. Throughout the show, storage appears less as a receptacle for “secret psychological life” or personal strangeness, than as a banal acceleration of capitalism in which every object is mass-produced, from jewelry to breakfast cereals. , is reified as precious, each enclosed in a transparent reliquary. In a way, however, the series solved my obsession with shelves. After watching the eight-part season, I’m not so bothered by the unruly clutter in my apartment anymore. Instead, I see it as a bit of personality and proof that our home spaces don’t need to be completely flawless or wrapped up, especially when there are much bigger issues than rainbow color coding. in sky.


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