Back for a second season, Netflix’s “The Circle” takes reality television to a different level. Perfect for COVID-era, contestants spill tea and fight for the grand prize of $100,000 – not face-to-face, but completely virtually.
Using a platform called The Circle to communicate, players are isolated in their own apartment with nothing but a profile picture, a bio and demeanor over text to gauge who exactly their competitors are. This anonymity allows for players to enter as either themselves or as a catfish. In contrast, viewers get the delight of seeing who these players really are, as well as comedic commentary from host Michelle Buteau.
Through games and group chats, players get to build alliances and most importantly, rate each other. The two most popular players become influencers, gaining immunity and the power to block another player from the game.
Back in season one, actor and family man Joey Sasso took home the grand prize, with my favorite player, Shubham Goel, AKA Shooby, crowned as runner-up.
Season one of “The Circle” was full of lovable contestants. For this reason, I was skeptical when entering the second season; I didn’t think the new players would compare. However, they did not disappoint, and I’m growing to love them just as much. Last season’s casting was somewhat questionable, with the players leaning toward being stereotypical or token characters from society. I think they did a slightly better job this time around, curating a diverse set of players. There’s University of Chicago student Jack playing sorority girl Emily, and Lee, an author who writes under a female pen name, pretending to be River. There’s also the pleasant surprise of Lisa, who plays Lance Bass from NSYNC; despite being a catfish, Lisa is actually Lance’s personal assistant, which is an interesting twist.
Although these players seem to be regular people, a lot of them are catfishing the audience, even if they went in as themselves. For example, Bryant introduced himself to the audience as a breathwork instructor. This isn’t a lie, per se, but he’s also the founder of Modern Nirvana, an actor and he appeared on “America’s Next Top Model”. These are all aspects of his life that, had he mentioned them, could entirely shape the course of the show. Bryant isn’t the only one who has made an appearance on television. All the way from Essex, Chloe came into “The Circle” after having been a part of yet another Netflix show: “Too Hot to Handle”
[Text Wrapping Break]Though “The Circle” is definitely binge-worthy, Netflix has yet to release every episode. Four new episodes will be out on April 21, the next four on April 28 and the finale on May 5. With only four episodes currently out, it’s difficult to determine whether this season is better than the first. However, this season is clearly the winner when it comes to drama. Players Savannah and Terilisha, the first two influencers of the game, are pitted against each other after their decision to block a contestant. Blaming one another, the two split the Circle in half, with players either becoming Team Savannah or siding with Terilisha.
As entertaining as the show is, “The Circle” confuses me with its aim. The concept channels the dangers of stereotypes and popularity, theoretically warning us against it, but also – perhaps unintentionally – promoting it. When players learned that season one’s Alana was a model, they never gave her a chance, blocking her after assuming she was self-conceited. Similarly, in this season, players who recognized Chloe from “Too Hot to Handle” automatically jumped to the conclusion that she was nothing more than a flirt. Isn’t the show promoting stereotypes by having popularity determine the winner?
Plus, once a player is blocked, a new one comes in to replace them. The newest players aren’t typically very successful, struggling to form a bond with the other players. I suppose the addition of these contestants spice up the game, but the traditional route of elimination is somewhat preferable.
Like most reality shows, “The Circle” has its issues. But if you’re looking for surface-level entertainment and lots of drama, “The Circle” will most definitely deliver.