The Circle: The Best Show You're Probably Already Addicted to | News & Opinion

The Circle: The Best Show You’re Probably Already Addicted to | News & Opinion

Technology


Adam/Alex, the worst contestant on The Circle (Photo: Netflix)

The Venn diagram of people who started watching The Circle as a goof and people who cannot get enough of The Circle is a circle.

I know because I am in it; my mind is an endless loop of Joey yelling “Yeah, buddy!” and thoughts of how Sean’s revelation will go this Wednesday.

The Netflix reality show debuted on Jan. 1, and four new episodes arrive every Wednesday. It’s been the talk of Twitter, and its spread via social media could not be more appropriate because the reality competition show keeps all its contestants isolated in separate apartments in one building with a fake voice-controlled social-media platform as their only means of communication.

Like that other dwelling-based reality show, Big Brother, The Circle has been borrowed from Britain, and it too offers a cash prize ($100,000) for the person who can win the most likes from the other players and thus be the last tenant left.

Shatter your illusions of this being some Black Mirror parable. The limitations of humans and technology are on stark display here. The voice assistant that lies at the heart of The Circle is as human-powered and fallible as any Mechanical Turk transcript (having a kiki is forever rendered onscreen as having a “key key”) and all the inhabitants should have Nev and Max on speed dial in their real lives because they are terrible at spearing catfish.

Joey Sasso (Courtesy of Netflix)

There are eight contestants more or less, with new ones joining as others leave. One of the most popular, both among the contestants and the general public, is Joey, a GTL guy if ever there was one. Luckily he has the three things vital to maintaining the lifestyle in The Circle: fitness facilities, a rooftop jacuzzi, and an ironing board to use while shirtless. The other OGs are:

  • Chris, who came loaded with catchphrases and Jesus
  • Alana, a model out to disprove cliches by describing herself as a clumsy, goofy, dorky taco lover
  • Seaburn (playing as Rebecca), who is portraying his IRL girlfriend, cramps and all
  • Antonio, a basketball player who Joey will tell you is the Darth Vader to his Luke Skywalker
  • Karyn (playing as Mercedeze), who is honest about nearly everything except her profile pics
  • Sammie, who is best summed by her own assessment of being a woman who loves both posting photos of her ass and working with children on the autism spectrum
  • VR designer Shubham (“Shooby” to his friends here), who starts off by saying “social media is our modern-day Bubonic Plague” but by the end of the first episode has caught the fever

Contestants come and go, punctuated by host Michelle Buteau’s perfectly shady commentary. Perhaps none is so reviled by the audience or The Circle members as Alex, who brings big wife guy energy to the private moments in his apartment and even creepier vibes to every interaction he has as Adam, the hot guy he’s pretending to be. (If you thought no grosser word than “moist” could be brought up in a conversation, let Adam/Alex introduce you to “arouse.”)

There are genuine moments between the cast, even when they are lying about who they are. Only-child Shubham manages to find a brother in Joey and a sister in “Rebecca” (aka Seaburn). Miranda, who arrives in episode four, has spent a lifetime in foster care and her sincere efforts to forge friendships are fraught with misread cues about how to be among the already-established Circle family.

What makes The Circle such a compelling watch is that it’s a true reflection of how we live now. Each person is by themselves at home, maybe making dinner or applying a face mask. To fill the void, they yell out to a voice assistant to connect to someone else, and when they’ve had enough to get by for a bit, they sign off with a spoken “LMAO winky-face emoji, heart emoji, crying emoji.”

There are four more episodes of The Circle to go and they all hit this Wednesday. I will be watching, both alone in my apartment and together with Twitter because we are all one within The Circle, sitting on our sofas, doing our skincare routines, yelling at our TVs. Send message.





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The Tech Guy

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