Anna Schultz-Cozy Girl Using Laptop

5 Spoiler-Free Reasons Why You Should Watch Netflix's "The Circle"

As someone always on the hunt for good television shows, getting recommendations from my friends is always a good place to start. Unfortunately, during the past few months, I went through a dry spell when it came to shows that piqued my interest. Even more unfortunate was the fact that, for some reason, I couldn’t focus on watching any fictional shows, so I settled on reality shows for a while (that is until season two of You came around, but that’s a conversation for another time). 

One of my friends recommended that I watch The Circle, and because she knows me so well, she knew it’d be right up my alley. Maybe it’s because I binge-watched all seven seasons of Catfish: The TV Show last year, or maybe it’s because I’m a nerd interested in how human beings interact and communicate. Either way, The Circle filled up a hole in my heart, and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for this series. 

Here are five spoiler-free reasons why you should watch The Circle!

 

  1. 1. Fresh New Take on Reality Entertainment: "Big Brother" Meets "Catfish: The TV Show"

    The Circle has international versions, but the one I’m referring to is the American version (though it is filmed in England). As summed up by Wikipedia, “Within the show, contestants are isolated with their own apartments, and can only communicate to the other contestants via "The Circle," ostensibly a computer program which transcribes their messages into text as if in a social media app. Contestants are thus able to present completely different identities to the others to hopefully win them over. Every so often, the group of contestants are asked to rate their fellow contestants, with the top-vote getters becoming the ‘influencers’ of the circle, giving them the power to ‘block’ one contestant from the circle, eliminating them from the game.”

    The Big Brother aspect comes from the contestants living together but the only difference is that they all live in separate apartments and can’t talk to each other face-to-face, although their every move is still monitored by cameras. It wouldn’t be reality TV if they weren’t being watched all day, every day! Plus, they have to vote on one another’s profiles and characters, in addition to winning challenges and playing some games, which pulls in the competition aspect. 

    Second, it wouldn’t be reality TV without some drama! That’s where the Catfish element comes in. Some contestants enter the competition and set up profiles as themselves, while others take different approaches, using other people’s photos to get the rest of the circle to like them. We all know how social media works, and as a true Catfish fan, I know the great lengths people will go to to get others to like them, the stories and lives they make up and the drama that can come from playing with emotions.

    You could even tie in a little of the Black Mirror aspect, with contests having to be rated on their characters and profiles, much like the episode "Nosedive" from season three.

  2. 2. Colorful Characters: The Diverse Cast of The Circle

    One thing that a lot of reality shows have trouble with is including people of various backgrounds, and what I have to applaud The Circle for the most is definitely selecting a diverse group of contestants for its competition. In addition to racial diversity, you also have members of the LBGTQ community, people from different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, as well as those with different personalities and traits in general. I think most people can agree that what makes anything worth watching is the cast of characters, and this show is no exception. 

    It’s fun seeing them interact with one another via the Circle hub, (not face-to-face of course), but to also see them in their own spaces just completely be themselves (even if some of them are pretending to be other people)! They set up their Circle profiles as anyone would a regular social media or dating account, but then away from the Circle chat, they do everything from putting on face masks to having single dance parties to testing out food creations in the kitchen.

    I mean, what else are you supposed to do in a swanky apartment by yourself? This leads me to my next point.

  3. 3. Setting the Stage: The Circle and Its Incredible Design Team

    Holy smokes! I’m not one for interior design, but I could definitely gush about the interior design aspect of The Circle for a couple of hours. Of course, when you have a bunch of contestants in their 20s and 30s who are all going to live alone in separate apartments on a reality TV show where all their movement is monitored, you’ll want to equip them with swanky, modern apartments. However, it’s interesting to see how each apartment is seemingly tailored to each contestant, as well as how the Circle’s technology is placed within the apartments.

    It’s important to note that the Circle's communication hub is not only in the living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, but it is also only voice-activated. It’s so funny to hear people talk to the Circle as you would a Google home device or Siri, but then they have to voice type messages. And yes—emojis are included as well. It’s interesting how the design of the apartments is not only amazing aesthetic-wise, but also technology-wise. As college students on budgets, we all know how wonderful it would be to get a cool, tricked out apartment that wasn’t incredibly pricey!

  4. 4. Guilty Pleasure: No Shortage of Drama Here!

    Drama and romance are the bread and butter of reality TV, and there’s definitely a fair amount of both of those on The Circle, although they come in unexpected ways. What makes this show different from other competition-based reality shows is that the contestants can’t see each other. Similar to how we all use social media, they never know what’s really going on behind the scenes. Some contestants get flirty with other contestants, while alliances are formed and gossip abounds.

    Who isn’t being truthful to the others? Who is a catfish and who is a real person? Who is being a double-agent and who is being loyal to their alliances?

    I’d have to say that this aspect of “catfishing” really adds a layer of spice to the show, and it provides both heartbreaking moments and comedic aspects to the show. It’s even better that the audience knows everything that happens because, I’m not gonna lie, some things had me gasping out loud while others made me scream at my laptop.

    It really do be like that sometimes.

  5. 5. A Platform: The Messages That Come Out of This Show

    My top reason for why you should watch this show is plain and simple: the messages that emerge from this series are unexpected yet incredible. This has to do, in large part, to the colorful cast of contestants. Overall, The Circle teaches us a lot about judging people by their characters versus their looks and how social media and technology have affected the way we communicate (and in this sense, I guess I mean the messages as in themes, but the instant messages that are sent in the Circle chat are pretty great too).

    As a communication studies major, I’ve learned both the scientific and the social reasons for why human beings need to foster relationships, but that becomes even more evident in this reality show where the contestants are alone...yet not exactly. Human beings need social interaction in order to survive, but these people, while in separate apartments, get to interact via technology. I know it’s literally a game show where they have to talk to other people to get them to like them, and therefore win the competition, but isn’t that just so reflective of our society today?

    Furthermore, whether intended or not, the messages that are conveyed on this show by the different contestants are interesting, and The Circle allows us a glimpse into these strangers' lives as well as looking into our own.

So there you have it, folks. Maybe you’ve heard of The Circle or maybe you haven't. Either way, I would highly recommend it to anyone. Whether you’re a reality TV fanatic or not, it will keep you interested and get you thinking about how human beings interact and why we are the way we are.

Plus there’s only one season on Netflix, so it won’t take up too much of your time. Unless you’re like me and you start watching it instead of doing homework or studying (yikes). Well, since that’s done, I’ll be patiently waiting for what’s next in the series, and until then, I guess I’ll be getting my reality television fix from The Bachelor (hello, Pilot Pete)!