Stream it or Skip it: The Circle

Anushka Vijay - The CircleWriter: Yerin K.

Visual: Anushka V.

Editor: Norbu L.

Black Mirror is a well-known Netflix show that directly tackles the plausible dangers of technology with a terrifying dystopian fiction plot that closely centers this controversy. One episode in particular, ‘Nosedive’, introduces a grotesque society where people wholly depend their lives on the public’s ratings of them. The episode presents possible effects of technology taking a step too far; but who would have thought this grim and ominous fictional society would be brought to the real world? 

The Circle, a reality show originated by Netflix, completely brings the plot of ‘Nosedive’ of Black Mirror to life; with 12 complete episodes and a second season pending, it is called a “social media competition” that requires the contestants to all move into an apartment and make allies and enemies–but the twist is that these players never actually meet. They interact strictly on social media and the internet with each other and just like ‘Nosedive’, the person with the lowest ratings of what they showcase on social media gets eliminated. The aim of the game is to be the last one standing and eventually win 100,000 dollars. Since there were zero restrictions or rules, catfishing–in order to look more luxurious to avoid being eliminated–was a big part of this show. Advertising a completely different lifestyle, and even falsifying their identities, the contestants and the show itself has shown how easy it is to create a fake profile to broadcast to the world. 

Critiques mostly challenge the show’s morals and how it “gets clueless inhabitants vying for approval on social media” (Mashable, SE Asia: Alison Foreman). They also continue to review the overall atmosphere and mood as “anti-climatic and boring as The Circle is a whole lot of people reading their TV screens out loud, sitting in uncomfortable silence, waiting for strangers to text them back” as these contestants never are allowed to meet in person and must anticipate for the phone notification for some action. Others, however, argue that The Circle has a “fresh and new format” and “once you get past the odd format, The Circle provides some reality TV thrills, with the added glee to see how far the catfishers get.” (“The Circle” on Netflix: Joel Keller) To sum up, they state that this show obviously is created for nothing more than mere entertainment purposes that decided to use social media–a platform that the public widely utilizes and relates to–as the main format of their plot. 

As someone who isn’t a fan of the reality genre of TV shows, I do agree that to some extent the message that audiences interpret from The Circle can be harmful, as the main goal is to be approved by others on the internet, which is a major mental problem that many deal with especially in this generation. However, shows like this in general are perceived as entertainment purposes only, such as the Bachelor, Love Island, etc. which involves people fighting for validation from one person in order to be the star of the show; But neither of these shows are necessarily harmful, as it is a creative plot that intrigues the audience who find themselves rooting for someone in the show and eventually binge watching it until the end. I find that The Circle is no different to these shows and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The only issue that I believe that the producers have to deal with is whether or not is is actually entertaining to watch individuals locked in a room with nothing to communicate other than their phone. 

Works Cited

Black, Daniel. “THE CIRCLE Review: Netflix Dives Into Reality TV at Its Best, Worst, and Most Cringey.” GeekTyrant, GeekTyrant, 24 Jan. 2020, geektyrant.com/news/the-circle-review-netflix-dives-into-reality-tv-at-its-best-worst-and-most-cringy.

Foreman, Alison. “Netflix’s ‘The Circle’ Confirms We Are Living in the Dumbest Timeline.” Mashable SEA, 1 Jan. 2020, sea.mashable.com/entertainment/8335/netflixs-the-circle-confirms-we-are-living-in-the-dumbest-timeline.

Romano, Aja. “What Netflix’s The Circle Gets Right about Social Media.” Vox, Vox, 16 Jan. 2020, http://www.vox.com/culture/2020/1/16/21067999/netflixs-the-circle-review-recap-spoilers-summary-who-won.