10 Reasons Why "The Circle" Is the Wake-Up Call We Needed
Netflix's The Circle is about so much more than competing for $100,000.
On Jan. 1, Netflix released a remake of the British TV series The Circle. It's a social media reality competition that forces players to form bonds and interact using only a few profile pictures and online chat rooms. People can be whoever they want to be—and while some contestants choose to be their authentic selves, others use fake photos and a fake profile in the hope of making it all the way to the end.
On the surface, The Circle sounds like a vapid beauty competition. It is literally a popularity contest, after all. However, we're here to tell you why it's so much more than that. Despite some of the catfishes on the show, the players have managed to forge lasting bonds and teach viewers some worthwhile lessons about body positivity, loyalty, and embracing your true self. Here are just a few of the reasons why The Circle is the wake-up call we as a social media-obsessed society needed. Prayer hands emoji. Send message.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
The contestants on The Circle are living proof that you can't judge a book by its cover.
It's easy to make snap judgments about the contestants on The Circle when they're first introduced. Take Joey, for instance: When he enters The Circle, the first thing he says is, "Yeahhhh, buddy." He is "the proudest momma's boy you're ever gonna meet," and he isn't too shy to brag about his shirtless selfies and gym updates. Everything about Joey's introduction elicits a groan or an eye roll.
But as The Circle progresses, Joey becomes something of a fan favorite. He's funny, he's kind, and he doesn't care what other people think about him. Almost immediately, he forms an alliance with Shubham, the nice guy/nerd on the show. Yes, he slides into every hot girl's DMs, but he does it ludicrously and earnestly! By the time you've watched a few episodes of The Circle, you can't help but root for Joey in all his goofy glory.
It exposes all of the negative aspects of social media.
On the surface, The Circle is a reality competition show with a $100,000 prize. But if you read between the lines, the Netflix show is also a commentary on all of the ways social media can be toxic. The show forces people to judge one another based on a few photos, a short bio, and some brief, surface-level online conversations. And when you think about it, it's not much different from how we act on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.
But highlights the positive ones, too!
Social media isn't all bad, and The Circle showcases that well. Once you move past the shallow judgments, carefully curated profiles, and fake comments, there are actually a lot of good things that can come from social media platforms.
On the show, contestants prove this time and again by having open and honest conversations about their lives outside of The Circle. At one point, party girl Sammie opens up to fellow players about how she had to move in with her aunt when she was young after her mom died. In another scene, boho beauty Miranda connects with Joey by revealing to him that she bounced from foster home to foster home when she was younger. These people might only be communicating online, but they're still able to form real, lasting connections and find solace in one another.
It spotlights how hard it can be to truly connect and communicate online.
Things tend to get lost in translation online, especially when you don't actually know who you're talking to. On The Circle, players are constantly questioning whether the person they're talking to is a catfish, or whether what they're saying is actually sincere. At one point, players Sammie and Miranda get in a tiff because something that Miranda thinks is funny and flirty gets misconstrued by Sammie as an attack. When you can't see someone's face and hear the intonations of their voice, it's easy for things to get misinterpreted.
The contestants put personality and authenticity over looks.
At the beginning of The Circle, most of the contestants are your typical social media mavens: a model, a professional basketball player, an Italian-American gym bro, and the list goes on. You expect these players to make it all the way—if not because they're beautiful and well-curated, then because they know how to navigate the social media world.
But wait: By the first episode, blonde bombshell Alana is "blocked." The next time the players have to choose someone to eliminate, they go with Antonio, the handsome basketball player. What gives?
Well, the contestants on The Circle show us almost immediately that good looks aren't everything. When the players vote off Alana, they note that she seems fake and superficial. When Antonio gets the boot, he is called out for supposedly being a catfish and for not opening up to others. The players on The Circle repeatedly prove that honesty, openness, and realness are more important than the one thing we seem to value on social media: appearance. If there's anything we can learn from The Circle, it's that honesty is always the best policy.
It's full of body positivity and acceptance.
Several contestants on The Circle are members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Others are plus-size and proud. And every time somebody reveals their truth, the other contestants on the show accept them with open arms and loving words.
When plus-size social media manager Sean reveals to the group that she has been using fake pictures, everyone embraces her in her true form. It's a sweet reminder that as long as you're being your most authentic self, the right people will have your back.
It features beautiful and unlikely friendships.
You know that scene in Mean Girls when Janis Ian shows Cady the cafeteria set-up? Well, The Circle is essentially proof that the world isn't actually that divided. As the show progresses, unexpected bonds start to form. Gym rat Joey, for instance, becomes close with nerdy Shubham. Shooby, as Shubham is affectionately known on the show, also forms a friendship with unabashed flirty girl Sammie as she starts to open up and show her more vulnerable side.
It's a lesson in loyalty.
Be honest: If you were a player competing on The Circle, what would your strategy be? The smart move would be to try to eliminate anyone who comes off as a threat, and keep around those who aren't faring well.
In reality, though, that's not how most of the contestants strategized. The best contestants on the show formed alliances and genuine bonds, and it got them all the way to the end. Easily the best friendship/alliance on the show was the one formed between Joey and Shubham, and it was that very friendship that got those players to first and second place respectively. Never underestimate the power of loyalty!
It shows that with great power comes great responsibility.
On The Circle, the best thing to be is an influencer. As an influencer, you cannot be voted off of the show, and you get the power to block somebody else.
However, having this much power comes with its fair share of downsides. It's never easy to decide which contestant—which human being with feelings and emotions—should be kicked off of the show forever. As we see over and over again, being an influencer really takes an emotional toll on the players, and they learn the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility.
It's an eye-opening behind-the-scenes look at how we judge one another online.
When each player shows up to The Circle, they have no idea what to expect. They curate their pages to look how they think they should, and they judge other people's profiles based on a few images and a short bio no longer than your average tweet.
Of course, this is the point of the show, but watching all of the contestants judge one another behind the scenes is eye-opening. "That's kind of like every basic girl's profile," Shubham says when he reads "Tacos all day every day" in Alana's bio. "[Rebecca] might be one of them crazy girls who just, you know, you cheat on her, she'll slash your tires and bust your windows in your car," Antonio concludes after looking at one photo and nothing else. Watching The Circle on Netflix makes you realize that when you judge someone online, you are not just being hurtful and harmful, but also creating a version of them in your mind that probably doesn't exist.