Netflix’s The Circle Is a Dangerous Game – But It Reveals a Deeper Truth About Modern Relationships
Netflix’s reality-competition series, The Circle, is game of popularity and social media. But it has a deeper intention of making connections, and friendships, along the way. Some choose to enter with a strategy and others lead with their hearts.
Netflix has been on a reality-show kick, and viewers have been loving the streaming giant’s original series. There’s no shortage of bingeable competition series, but one of the most successful to date is The Circle. It’s a game of popularity in which contestants put their social media skills to the test in order to win money at the end.
There are plenty of interesting twists in The Circle to catch a player off-guard, and lead to their departure. However, what really keeps players in the game are their connections. So, let’s talk about past seasons of The Circle, which approaches seemed to work best, and what we can learn from the premise of this Netflix reality show.
How Do You Play Netflix’s The Circle?
The Circle is a social-media competition where your ranking among others determines the future of your stay there. Upon entering, you’re set up in an isolated apartment with voice-recognized screens around the house. You can choose to come in as yourself, or as a catfish, using another identity.
Every season there are numerous catfish who come in for different reasons. Some men who come in as women have claimed it’s because women are more trustworthy and can make deeper connections faster. However, some women who come in as men believe playing the flirting angle will be their saving grace. There are also some players who choose to go as someone else because they don’t believe they could otherwise become well-liked enough to win. That sheds some light on some deeper issues caused by social media.
The purpose of the game is to form meaningful connections. Whether those are strategic or genuine friendships is up to players. But the connections are your ticket to the finale. There are rankings that determine your status moving forward, until the next one. The two highest-ranked players then become influencers, and ultimately decide who’s going home. These rankings can be completed genuinely in regard to who you like the most and least, but they can also be used as sabotage.
The purpose of The Circle is to be liked, an ode to a sad social-media truth in our real lives. But the question remains regarding which strategy worked best in the past. Let’s look at the winners, and what they’ve done to secure their win — and the cash.
The Winners of The Circle
Season 1 is arguably still the best, as the players had no idea what the game would become, and which strategies were available. Joey Sasso was in the first batch of players, and he was the last man standing. He walked into the finale with only one catfish and four other individuals who also played as themselves. Sasso’s strategy from the start was to not have one at all, and that worked for him excellently. It could be debated that he’s the most well-received player on The Circle so far. His unwavering loyalty to his connections was admirable and ultimately is what led to his victory.
Season 2’s winner was Deleesa St. Agathe, who catfished as her husband Trevor. Unlike the previous season, St. Agathe wasn’t the only catfish in the finale, but rather one of three. This season featured Chloe Veitch, who was previously on Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle. She was a fan favorite on both shows. However, St. Agathe’s win was well-deserved, as few suspected she wasn’t who she said she was. She had a fake relationship with Veitch throughout their journey on The Circle, clearly taking the flirting route.
While she may have been strategic in her means to an end, St. Agathe still found lasting friendships. Her win proves that not everyone is who they say they are online, and it’s up to us to decipher if what we see is real. Once again, that brings up a more dangerous side of social media that we sometimes fail to remember.
The third season, quite frankly, feels like a fever dream. There were many more unexpected surprises that kept viewers on our toes, including a player having two profiles at one point. The finale included two catfish, but James Andre Jefferson Jr. chose to play as himself, and took home the money. He came into The Circle thinking with his head, but he acted with guidance from his heart. That’s what allowed him to move up in the rankings so quickly. Jefferson was one of the later entries, but still managed to make enough connections to sustain him through his short stay.
Season 4 was released this year, in May 2022. Its finale was interesting, as the only catfish present was Trevor St. Agathe. This name might ring a bell, because his wife, Deleesa St. Agathe, won Season 2 using his identity. St. Agathe joined the game in the later stages, and entered as his wife’s friend, Imani. The season’s winner, Frank Grimsley, wasn’t a surprise. He came into The Circle with every intention of being his authentic self, and that’s exactly what propelled him to the very end. He was well-loved for being open, transparent and supportive. It was his ability to forge friendships that gave him an edge.
What We Can Learn From Netflix’s The Circle
After dissecting the winners of Netflix’s The Circle, it’s safe to say that, in general, friendship over strategy seems to win. It’s clear that people can sense authenticity, even through a screen – for the most part, that is. The show may be a game of popularity, but there’s an underlying theme that rings true in our real-life social media experience.
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Much of what we see online isn’t what we think. Friendships are exaggerated, faces and bodies are altered, and the lives portrayed are edited intentionally to be unrealistic. While we’d like to believe everyone we encounter online is genuine, that’s just not the case. Social media can be dangerous in that it can lead to insecurity about our own lives and appearances. It can even be more dangerous when we think of real catfish, and how they sometimes target naïve and vulnerable individuals. They gain trust, just like we saw in The Circle. However, unlike on the Netflix show, we can’t perform background checks and filter out the predators in real life. It’s an ongoing issue that parents continue to face with their children.
As a whole, Netflix’s The Circle is entertaining, and has shown that true friendships can be formed anywhere, even online. But it also brings our attention to how easy it is to take the form of someone else, and infiltrate someone’s circle. This show is a lesson to use social media in the way it’s intended. Make connections, but also be vigilant in our online endeavors. Lastly, it teaches that being our true selves on social media is a lot more effective and satisfying than pretending to be someone we’re not.