The Circle brings social media and online interactions to the big screen. Netflix brings the popularity contest to the next level with a $100,000 grand prize.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
Calling all drama TV and reality show lovers: The Circle is back and is thrilling as ever! This social experiment turned game show has become a hit and is quickly climbing Netflix’s Top 10 list. Group chats, catfishes, and challenges, what’s not to love about The Circle? This game tests the group’s abilities in establishing their online presence, and the most favored player at the end receives $100,000. That’s a huge prize for just trying to make new friends! The name of the game is pretty simple: make sure everyone likes you so they don’t vote you out, but the strategic side of the game brings the show’s drama to life.
The format of the game is fresh and unique. To enter The Circle, players are free to be whoever they want to be. They can play as themselves or catfish as a strategic move. Their profiles include information such as their hometown, relationship status, biography, and photo album. It is all up to the contestants on how they want to present themselves and what characteristics they think will be the most favored. The only way players can interact with one another is through the chat. They can create private or group chats to form alliances and snoop around for information about what is happening in “the circle,” but they have to be on high alert at all times. One slip-up can cost them the game. At the end of an episode, players are asked to rate each other. The top two players become influencers and get to choose who to “block,” or vote out from the show.
Throughout the show, players are cut off from civilization and have to isolate themselves in their very well-furnished apartments. Players do not have access to their phones or the internet during their stay in “the circle.” Activities like puzzles and coloring books are distributed, but their form of entertainment is mostly just chatting. But never being able to see or hear your opponents makes the drama that much more suspenseful. Important factors like voice tone and facial expression are lost. A message can be sent with good intentions but be received negatively because of miscommunication. Commentary from the players during chats and challenges also make the show entertaining. Although they are constantly alone, each player narrates their every move and thought for viewers to hear. These moments keep viewers invested as they watch their favorite players finesse or fool their opponents.
Although this show is just for fun, the premise of the game sums up the reality of social media. The players cater their profiles and chats to their peers to become the most liked in the group. Many of these same habits are evident in real life like choosing the perfect profile picture and the way we chat with others. Some even go the extra mile by catfishing and creating a disguise for themselves online. It's ironic to watch a game show based on online communication and self-isolation while being in a global pandemic. Online chats and direct messages have become an essential way of meeting and interacting with new people within the last year. Seeing how players navigate the game can influence viewers to reflect on their own approach to social media.
Season 2 of The Circle is now completely updated with thirteen episodes up for viewing. This season features the quirky and comedic Michelle Buteau and a guest appearance from Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye. The personalities in this group range from celebrity assistants to coffee shop baristas, and even an experienced game show player, Chloe Veitch from Too Hot to Handle. If you need a show to pass the time, give this one a shot. It's light-hearted with amusing drama and a sprinkle of funny, cringey moments.
Melanie Moyer '22,