Why I've changed my mind about The Circle USA

Hello dearest readers,

You may remember that a few weeks ago I wrote about the intoxicating Netflix show Love Is Blind on Medium. After that finished, in a desperate attempt to fill the void that it left behind, I went ahead and watched the first episode of The Circle... and I was not impressed.

The Circle, for those of you who haven't been sucked into it yet, is a popularity contest with a twist. Players must get to know each other via text messages and a few select profile pictures. At the end of the game, the player who's been voted the most popular by their fellow participants wins $100,000. Did that grab your attention? I didn't think so. Compared to Love Is Blind where the end goal is nothing less than marriage, a cash prize is, well, boring.

And it gets worse. Like I just mentioned, players can only communicate via text messages. But, because they have no phones and presumably to make things more interesting for us viewers, they have to dictate their messages to an app called "The Circle" which is installed on TVs all over their apartment (along with dozens of cameras, it's reality TV after all). What this means in practice is that conversations are excruciatingly slow. What would normally take 5 seconds IRL takes 5 minutes on The Circle.

Players start out by screaming "MESSAGE!" to signal that they're ready to dictate something, then they say the thing (usually something riveting along the lines of "HEY HEY HEY babes!!! 😻😻😻") taking care to enunciate slowly. Then, when they're finally ready to send off their missive, they shout "SEND!". And this happens for. every. single. message. It also becomes clear at this point that The Circle is actually a human being tasked with typing everything that comes out of the players' mouths because The Circle never makes mistakes. Not even when a player describes an aubergine emoji as a "purple chilli" 🍆 (no comment).

So, you might be wondering, do I actually like the show? Well, yes. Because here's the thing, it gets better. If you can make it through the first 4 episodes (what's 5 hours of TV in these Corona times anyway?), I promise you'll be hooked too. By episode 5, either the producers have started trimming out some of the pauses between the MESSAGE!'s and the SEND!'s or my brain has slowed down because the speed is not grating on me anymore. Now, I'm able to focus my full attention on the players and their tactics, because The Circle is after all a game with a big prize at the end and getting everyone to like you is hard work.

But let's forget about the tactics for now, because what I really like about the show (once you've made it past episode 4) is that it makes me laugh. And oh does it feel good to laugh these days! My favourite scene so far is in episode 6, I think, where the players have 30 minutes to decorate a cake. It's hilarious.

German Netflix has started telling me I should watch "The Circle Brazil" and "The Circle France" too but I'm not convinced... but then again I seem to change my mind easily these days.

Yours truly,