Those of you who watched the original British series in 2018 will no doubt be already fully aware of this, but the US version of The Circle that premiered on Netflix this month is utterly fucking batshit nuts. And I simply cannot get enough of it.
In the throes of the night, before toddling off to dream land last night, the show presented itself to me: A deeply odd competition series featuring a handful of social media hopefuls locked in their own private apartments, only allowed to communicate with each other via some slap-dash voice-activated messaging system called “The Circle.”
In the one-and-a-half episodes I managed to get through at midnight last night, the entire scenario started out exhibiting a truly demented amount of chaotic energy, and it only got worse from there.
The “voice-activated” chat forces all contestants to verbalise their messages like an ad man in the 50s dictating a letter. Better still, to differentiate between what goes in the message and what’s them nattering away to themselves as their grip on reality slowly leaks out their ears, they have to punctuate start each message by saying “Message,” and end it with “Send.”
For most contestants, this rolls off the tongue with relative ease. For Joey, a man who looks and sounds like he’d make a decent Tony Soprano impersonator if he ever decided to go bald, these were a performance.
Every “Message” Joey pens is done with all the flourish and gusto of New Jersey’s finest Shakespearean actor. His “Send” gestures radiate a deeply confusing sexual energy. At the start of episode one he appeared to be just some brash kid with an ego the size of a 10 tonne parm hero. By the end of it, I would die for him.
The Circle is an insane spectacle: Of the 8 contestants, 2 immediately decided to portray catfish personas, with one – a guy – playing the role of his own girlfriend, despite the fact that he had no apparent clue how to speak as a woman, making all his catfish dialogue sound like a half-broken PlayStation 1 tried to machine learn language by gaffa taping an American Pie DVD to itself.
Another contestant, Shubham, came into the show after violently shunning social media most of his life. Which meant that after he copped 4 likes on a “status update,” we got to see him experience the sickly rush of mass attention endorphins for the very first time.
After the episode ended with Alana – a 25-year-old model whomst professes “tacos all day, every day” in her Circle profile – being ruthlessly blocked from the competition and ejected from the compound, I was hopelessly enthralled. This ghastly parade of stunted communication and slowly escalating madness is the most outright ridiculous thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. And I cannot get enough.
Fortunately, I’m not the only one hopelessly entrenched in this wild shit. Social media is awash with people whose brains are being similarly boiled by the show.
— Taylin Ramos (@taylinmelody) January 16, 2020
I would despise everyone person on the circle in real life but on the show I’m obsessed with all of them.
— Patrick (@pattpattpat) January 14, 2020
— Drew Wyant (@drew_wyant) January 15, 2020
I’m late to the party but WHAT THE HELL IS #TheCircle I AM OBSESSED
— Leon (@ledow) January 15, 2020
I’m absolutely obsessed with #TheCircle on Netflix. This is my new Big Brother.
— allison (@atann17) January 12, 2020
Is anyone else OBSESSED with #TheCircle on Netflix? I cannot stop watching. ????
— Renee Cummings (@OnAirRenee) January 9, 2020
— Bmayez (@itsbmayez) January 9, 2020
I'm literally five minutes into The Circle and everyone is so exhausting. These people are screaming about the decor in an Airbnb like they won the lotto. Already obsessed.
— R. Eric Thomas (@oureric) January 11, 2020
i just started watching the circle and i’m already obsessed pic.twitter.com/zL4ye3rwAU
— Kam Burns (@kamcburns) January 12, 2020
Message: The Circle is certifiably off its fucken head, and I demand Netflix commissions 10 more seasons immediately. Hashtag yeah buddy. Clown face emoji. Sunglasses face emoji. Thumbs up emoji. Send.