“The Circle” is a breath of fresh air in a tired genre

Alyssa Bunde
Staff Writer

While most people were fixated on season two of “You” I found myself captivated by Netflix’s reality TV show “The Circle”.

I was originally drawn to it from the reality aspect, because who doesn’t love watching the messiness of other people? However, I kept watching because of the twist, everyone on the show can only communicate through a social platform called the circle, hence the shows name…as we can see Netflix got creative with titling. Before I explain my captivation with this show I should probably explain it’s premise.

There are roughly eight contestants, numbers varying throughout the show, and everyone is competing for $100,000. However, unlike typical reality game shows, these contestants do not interact face to face, they can only communicate through the circle. Therefore, making catfishing a common theme in this game.

To win the contestants have to gain influence in the group. Basically, similar to normal social media, it’s a popularity contest. Not everyone is who they seem, alliances are made, bonds created, and the viewers get to watch it all.

Have you ever read some of your online messages out loud and cringed? There’s something about online interactions that have us all communicating differently. This is evident in “The Circle”. Communicating through the circle is voice-activated. Therefore, contestants had to speak their messages to one another out loud.

So I watched as these grown adults still opted to write things like “LOL soooo true”. It brought many texting memes to life, because while players consistently wrote things like “LOL” and “hahahaha” they were clearly still sitting there not laughing in the slightest. Another factor of this show I found interesting was the mild cabin fever that occurred.

The contestants are not able to see anyone else. They can communicate with the other players, but most of the contestant’s communication is carefully calculated. Therefore, begging the question are they really getting to talk when most of it is fake? You can see the craving for physical interaction in a couple of the contestants as they begin to personify stuffed animals and frequently chat with them.

Many of the contestants also end up talking to themselves and out loud. I’m unsure if that was a producer request for them to be vocal for the sake of the show but at different times players even say in the group chat they want someone to visit their apartments.

This to me proves that even if you are virtually communicating with people is cannot replace physical social interaction. Social media is a game and one that can be monetized thanks to it’s growing importance and overarching pull on our everyday lives. But for those that do not use it, it’s fairly entertaining to see them finally engage with it.

A player on the show named Shubaum hates social media and even referenced it to be the modern-day bubonic plague. However, he still entered the game to prove that being 100% yourself will always end up winning. He is by far my favorite character for his wholesome outlook, but also I think the weakest character because he is naive.

Shubaum is living proof of what happens when you give too much trust to strangers and what do I mean by that? You’ll have to watch to find out. “The Circle” is an ongoing show with the final batch of episodes being released Jan. 15.

This weekend I’m planning to finish off the final batch of episodes of season one because I cannot get enough of their awkward hashtags, catfishing, and the uniqueness of the game.

Header photo courtesy of Netflix’s Facebook page.

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