Get Organized with the Home Edit follows a team of women lead by Clea and Joanna, who organize spaces for celebrities and “everyday people” alike. That is the format of the show: organizing the spaces of one celebrity and one average person.
Early in the show, they explain that the rainbow represents their system because it’s orderly and beautiful to look at — the rainbow being a big part of their aesthetic is interesting, considering how incredibly straight this whole show feels.
Here is their system: edit, categorize and contain. They want to give people tools to make their spaces smart, sustainable and nice to look at. Based on the pilot (I didn’t get much further,) did they achieve these goals? Well, sort of.
The episode kicks off with a team meeting, where Clea and Joanna call down three of their employees, who seem sweet, but also feel very interchangeable. Unlike similar shows, such as Queer Eye, it’s unclear what everyone’s roles and identities are. That makes it hard to care about any of them. They all speak similarly, are styled the same, and enthusiastic to no end. I love the enthusiasm, to a point, but it cannot be sustained through a whole show without being tiring.
The celebrity portion, which comes first, is basically free press for the celebrity. In the pilot, they help Reese Witherspoon. They gush about how excited they are to meet her, then they do meet her and compliment her some more, and then she disappears while they work, returning so she can compliment them. This is fun if you love Reese and like to see her reminiscing about stuff and her work, but little seems to happen beyond that.
How are they organizing? They don’t break down their system explicitly as they do it, so it’s unclear what it means to them to edit, categorize and contain.
They don’t seem to be editing anything as Reese shows off every item she wants to be displayed in her walk-in closet. We don’t see her decide that maybe she can put a few of the Legally Blonde shoes up for auction. She gets to keep everything without a moment’s reflection. Then Reese, the interesting part of the episode, disappears so that they can work.
They categorize a bit, by deciding to sort things by which film or event they are from, but little explanation is given as to how they decide the order of things, there is no discussion of philosophies or the psychology behind organization, or even how to make a space aesthetically pleasing. They just do it while we watch.
The tips you get during their work time are things like “adjust shelves to maximize closet space.”
They aren’t novel ideas and watching the episode just makes me think, “Well, I could do what they’re doing. I already do that. Why am I here?”
When they reach the “contain” step, they are simply putting everything into clear plastic containers and cute boxes, stacking them and calling it a day. In the end, they have taken things out of boxes and put them onto hangers, into smaller boxes, organized by colour and added labels.
Long story short, doing the tedious work that Reese Witherspoon doesn’t have time to do. But there’s no substance, Reese is the most interesting part of the first half of the episode, and she’s barely featured!
Halfway into the episode, we meet Whitney, the everyday person being surprised with a closet makeover. She has a cluttered walk-in closet and only The Home Edit can make it look pretty.
The thing is, Whitney’s house seems otherwise immaculate. It’s elegantly designed, it looks like a real estate listing in its staging. It’s not that I was looking for them to swoop into the home of an impoverished family and “save them,” because that can be equally problematic, but I just wasn’t made to root for Whitney in any way.
I’ll pause my ranting and say that they near making a good point when they explain to Whitney that they don’t want to go against the grain and do things that aren’t sustainable for her habits. I think that’s helpful! Forcing an organization system onto yourself doesn’t work, you need to work with yourself and not create more stress than before.
But then we return to the shallow side of The Home Edit that I thing disconnects it from similar shows as they rapid-fire ask Whitney to choose which of her things to discard and telling her she needs to replace all of her hangers because they don’t match. On an aesthetic level, sure. On an ethical and environmental level? A nightmare.
I know it wouldn’t look as cookie-cutter pretty, but how about sorting them by type of hanger rather than replacing all of them? An ugly Walmart hanger may be ugly in your closet, but it’s much uglier in a landfill. It just isn’t a solution that people below a certain level of income can make.
They find out that Whitney likes blue because of a sports team and so they tell her that blue will be a thematic colour in the room. And then do nothing but put all of the blue clothes on the same rack.) But they don’t find out what sport she likes and the reason she loves it. They don’t try to learn anything about Whitney, other than the basic fact that she’s a busy pediatrician who thinks she’s bad at accessorizing. The resulting room feels extremely impersonal to Whitney because they know her as well as we do: not at all.
Shows like Queer Eye and Tidying Up with Marie Kondo work because of the time dedicated to understanding the person they’re helping and then incorporating that into their processes. Marie Kondo’s philosophy requires the person to do a lot of work themselves and to bring emotion into their organizational habits. There is a focus on getting rid of clutter and recognizing that some things aren’t worth holding onto.
In The Home Edit, the discarding process is brief, glossed over and rapid-fire. This is representative of the whole episode, really. They don’t leave space for Whitney to reflect or become a character in her own right. All she gets to do is compliment the women and thank them endlessly for freely giving their time and services.
I’ll say it as nicely as I can manage because I want to be clear that I’m glad these women have found success. Being able to organize clothes by colour and put things into boxes does not make you special and I don’t think it warrants an entire Netflix show, no matter how many Instagram followers one has.