Five minutes into the first episode of The Circle, I told myself “this might not be for me”. Boy was I wrong.
Netflix’s new reality contest is about eight strangers competing in a popularity contest. They each stayed in separate (and gorgeous) apartments, and their only contact with each other is through a social media platform called The Circle. The twist? They were isolated from the world for the entire duration of the game. And could use any identity of their preference to participate.
Before you think this is just another Catfish-wannabe, you need to know that these people are fighting to win $100,000. This show is about using their wits and charm to “connect” with others, by sending written messages through monitors on each of the contestant rooms. They are only allowed to upload one profile photo at the time, and can’t see or talk to each other. Basically the same thing that happens on real-life social media, right? But the show becomes so much more than that.
From the contestants that used fake personas, my favorite was Seaburn Williams, who used his girlfriend’s photos to compete as Rebecca. Others were walking stereotypes, from self-obsessed model Alana Duval, to a personal favorite, Joey Sasso, who is basically a real-life Joey from Friends.
What I wasn’t expecting is how much I would get invested in these people and their relationships. Some of them truly connected with others just by using written words, and there was something moving about that. Shubham Goel, a shy VR programmer who “hated” social media and influencers, went from being the least popular among the group to one of the top players in a matter of hours. He achieved that (to his own surprise) just by being extremely (and genuinely) nice to others, and playing as his true self. I found this so inspiring and refreshing, which is probably why I literally couldn’t-stop-watching-this-show.
I was never into Survivor, Big Brother, or shows of that kind. I could never identify with anyone in them, and the contestant’s relationships to me looked toxic and hostile even on the previews. What I love about Circle is that is about being liked by others, and even if it’s about money, polar-opposite people get to have conversations that would probably never happen in real life, even in a candid manner. The cast is also inclusive, polite, and interesting, and overall, the whole thing is quite entertaining (and funny).
Twenty five minutes into episode two, I texted my sister “you need to watch The Circle”. After that I was entranced: at almost two in the morning on Sunday, I realized I had spent twelve-straight-hours watching this show, and wondered why. My sister told me she stayed up until five a.m. doing the same. I went online and realized we weren’t the only ones: there are all sort of conversations going on about some of the best (and most controversial) moments from this season, and the show’s official Instagram has reached over 100,000 followers (did I mention it was released only five days ago?). For a show about social media, The Circle actually deserves all the buzz.
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