New Netflix series The Circle caught my attention as I was trying to "oooh-sah" from the holiday season and needed a desperate palate cleanser from all the Christmas festivities. Why not binge watch a series that to me is reminiscent of MTV's 1992 The Real World where 8 unique characters with conflicting personalities and tempers live in one residence together with cameras on them 24/7?
In the world of social media, The Circle houses all eight contestants in the same compound and has them blocked off from ever seeing each other. In isolation, the only way the members communicate is through The Circle, a social media network infiltrating their homes in every room, and voice activated, think Alexa or Google Assistant.
A little creepy in concept, in that it almost feels like The Circle is an all-powerful being killing off one member at a time – possibly a good horror movie plot. The premise: members must network with one another and build alliances, with some members going Catfish: a guy playing it up as his hot girlfriend, a lesbian pretending to be a straight beautiful woman and even a nerdy male pretending to be Adonis.
Periodically a member is eliminated when the top two contestants become influencers and must decide who to Block. The last man/woman standing walks away with a prize of $100,000. Each time a member is eliminated, a new member is introduced into the complex given time to spy on the contestants before making their presence known. I do wonder if members keep being introduced, how exactly will only one remain. Will there be a lightning round, where four people get chopped?
The show seems almost prison-like – like, do the young hopefuls get to leave at all, or are they confined to their respective cells for the duration of the show? The only time a member gets face time is when a contestant is eliminated: he/she has the option to see one member in person. Alana the popular model is voted off first and confronts her eliminator to prove she is who she says she is – making things utterly uncomfortable at the one-on-one.
Here are some highlights from the first 2 episodes:
- Introduces us to each one of the 8 contestants: Chris, a "real-ass bitch in a fake-ass world"; Joey a buff mama's boy; Alana at 25 year old model; Seaburn a case worker from Boston aka Rebeca; Shubham a virtual reality designer "I think social media is our modern-day bubonic plague"; Samantha a huge flirt with a huge ass; Antonio a professional basketball player pretending to be single; and Karyn a 37 year old lesbian pretending to be fit and straight.
- Contestants finish their bios and the rankings begin – contestants start private chat hitting each other up, it's mayhem, like a sale at Best Buy on Black Friday
- In the end everyone settles into their respective corners with judgements running a mock, especially when Alana starts a private girl chat called "skinny queens" makes some of the other member's quite pissed off.
- In the end, Alana is sent home for suspicions of being a "Catfish" and shallow
- Socializing continues, and contestants play a game of Heads Up, more like "Guess Who" of celebrity trivia. The members are absolutely terrible at this game.
- A new member Miranda is introduced, a yoga, free spirit who stays in the background and observes the members conversating while taking notes. Is she straight/gay/bi? She is very flirtatious and uses it to try to gain alliances
- No eliminations this episode
With some of the context clearly seeming scripted, to me it's most fascinating to watching the psychopathology unfold as the contestants get cabin fever, the catfish start to take on their respective alter egos, and the cool kids are chopped one head at a time – I guess it's revenge of the nerds as popularity is clearly not looked at as a good thing.