By Zoe Talbot
Netflix reality TV show “The Circle” is back for another season, and will be releasing episodes weekly until the beginning of May. With eight new contestants, drama is already through the roof, and the tension is high as they try to navigate who they can trust to win $100,000.
Similar to the structure of last season, players are not able to see or hear one another; they are living in special apartments, and can only communicate through The Circle chat. The goal is to be the most popular player by the finale, going strictly off of the impressions made through the screen. Players can go into The Circle as themselves, or as a catfish, making the game all the more complicated and the truth all the harder to decipher. All that the players can hope for is that, at the end of the day, they’re in the top two — becoming influencers — and are safe from being blocked from The Circle.
While I personally do not find the contestants from this season as likeable as season one so far, I do find them equally entertaining. As opposed to the casual and fun-loving contestants from the first, this season’s contestants are all about strategy and playing the game, which makes tension and betrayal abundant. People are taking sides, creating alliances, and it is apparent that these people came to play the game.
So far, the cast is full of all types of people: from a 65 year-old posing as a 20 year-old, a mother posing as her husband, and “Too Hot to Handle” star Chloe Veitch. This whimsical set of people makes the show so full of life between the individual interactions, the snarky and passive-agressive group chats, and the silly challenges that they endure to pass the time in their single apartments.
One of the things I love about “The Circle” beyond humor and the large personalities are how it separates itself from other reality television by letting viewers know the whole truth and withholding things from the contestants, as opposed to the other way around. The show allows us to get to know not only the contestants (and their possible catfish identities), but we get to know the contestants in a way the others never will because of how the show is structured. Even for the ones that went into The Circle as themselves, contestants really only get to know the things that they convey through the app, whether that be drama, deception or deep dark secrets.
I’m especially interested in how these contestants are going to navigate through twists that were not previously on the show before, such as new mini-games like poetry writing and advantages that no one on the show has ever encountered. The show’s personal nature creates an atmosphere so that the show and its events never look identical; even with one person blocked with a new one on the way, the dynamic between the remaining contestants completely turns on its head. Furthermore, so much happens in one episode that you are constantly waiting for the next reaction or alert from The Circle.
I will admit, sometimes the show puts way too much effort into trying to seem like a Gen Z show. Every other sentence from the contestants contains a hashtag or a handful of emojis, which can get obnoxious extremely fast (especially in the first episode with contestant introductions). While the point of the show is to come off as “social media gurus,” and prove that you have what it takes to make people like you based solely on impressions, sometimes listening to them say the word “hashtag” out loud makes me roll my eyes.
Overall, I loved this show last year, and I can tell I am going to adore it again this year. Being unable to see people face-to-face seems all the more appropriate now, and I am beyond ready to consume another four hours of the show next week. This was such a strong start to a reality show, and while it is not usually my genre, “The Circle” is so fun yet cutthroat that I cannot look away.