Netflix's 'Terrace House' Halts Production as Coronavirus Lockdowns Finally Come to Japan

Netflix
'Terrace House'

The hit Tokyo-set reality show aired its most recent episode on April 6 and had remained in production until last week, when Japan belatedly announced a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Netflix's hit reality series Terrace House is halting production of its current season in Japan in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"We are suspending production of Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020, giving top priority to the health and safety of our cast and staff," the show tweeted Monday from its official Twitter account.

Fans of the hit series were quick to both lament and endorse the move. "Nooo, I'm so sad, but it's a good decision to protect the crew and participants' health," said one Twitter follower. Others were surprised to hear that the show was even still in production, since the pandemic shuttered film and TV shoots elsewhere in the world weeks ago.

Based on official data, Japan remains a mysterious outlier in the coronavirus pandemic. While deaths caused by COVID-19 have topped 10,000 in New York state alone, Japan — home to an aged population of over 120 million — has reported just 143 deaths and 7,660 confirmed infections.

Critics of Japan's response have argued that testing in the country has been woefully inadequate, and that health experts do not have an accurate picture of the spread of the virus in the country. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, declared a monthlong state of emergency only a week ago, on April 7. Tokyo, which has seen the majority of Japan's infections, has introduced semi-lockdown measures, including the closure of bars, clubs, pachinko parlors and movie theaters. Public transport, many restaurants and other establishments remain open in the Japanese capital, however. Other major cities in Japan have followed suit. 

Hollywood shoots in Japan, such as HBO Max's Tokyo Vice, directed by Michael Mann, suspended production in Japan in mid-March. Many local productions were continuing as recently as last week, though.

Terrace House follows three men and three women from different walks of life as they temporarily live together in a modernist house somewhere in Japan. Fans of the show have been attracted by its relative subtlety and realism. Many critics have commented on how the civil and subdued social dynamics of the Japanese cast stand in stark contrast to the dramatic histrionics of traditional U.S. reality TV formats.

The ongoing 2019-2020 season premiered on May 14, 2019, and featured a cast living in Tokyo's Setagaya ward. Thirty-nine episodes had aired on Netflix so far, with the most recent dropping on April 6. It's unclear when the show will resume and how the producers will pick up from the coronavirus-imposed hiatus.

Terrace House was created by Tokyo-based Fuji TV in 2012 and began streaming on Netflix in 2015. It quickly became Netflix's first major breakout original from Japan. The show is now co-produced by Netflix and Fuji TV.