The Circle, Channel 4’s latest reality tv series, has been gracing our screens for the last three weeks but if you haven’t watched it where have you been?! And if you have but didn’t see the final yet WARNING this post has SPOILERS so you might want to bookmark it as something to come back to.
What was The Circle? Eight strangers (at a time) totally 15 contestants overall moved into the same apartment block, isolated from the outside world – their own means of communication was with each other through the social platform ‘The Circle’. They were tasked with creating the most popular profile, the highest rated contestants were made ‘influencers’ and the unpopular ones were blocked from the circle. 50k was their reward for being rated the most popular– who would play it straight and who would be ‘FAKE’ to win the cash?
In a world saturated by reality tv shows, The Circle is a refreshing change and a show ideal for addressing the issues that face the 21st century.
The show has created a LOT of controversy during its air time especially following the results of the final on Monday. But in an era of influencers, photoshopping, internet trolls and catfishes The Circle throws a spotlight on the key issues that we all know exist in social media but often choose to ignore.
This post is written in collaboration with Imogen about the four finalists on The Circle. My post focusses on Dan and Sian whilst Imogen writes about the winner Kate/Alex and Freddie head over to her blog to read more.
WARNING this post is controversial!
Relationship status: Single
Playing as: Himself
Dan, a former Estate Agent prides himself for his selling skills. Describing himself as ambitious, honest, impatient, caring and loyal.
Dan believes that everyone on social media is selling themselves and says he will use subtle manipulation to get everyone on side.
Dan’s circle experience
If the Circle was a programme based on integrity, Dan would have won. He played the game straight, never lied, didn’t vote tactically he was the classic nice genuine guy with a cute turtle called Fiji. Surely a nice genuine guy would be popular right? Except that really isn’t how The Circle works.
Admittedly at the beginning of the series I had my doubts about Dan, was he just using his selling skills to upsell himself to the other contestants. I really didn’t like the idea that we was manipulating others to get his own way. These thoughts were soon erased for me though as during his circle experience it became clear he had the most genuine intentions.
Throughout the series, Dan was liked by all of the players… apart from Ryan with whom he famously argued with. Voted consistently as one of the most popular ‘an influencer’ throughout the series, Dan had the ultimate power over the majority of the series major decisions. Subsequently Dan’s nice character was often exploited by others as a way to stay in the game – by getting close to him they ensured their place and avoided being blocked. In the final ratings everyone else played the game and voted tactically, everyone that is apart from Dan who stuck to his guns and voted with genuine intent.
Now, it’s literally impossible for me to talk about Dan’s time in The Circle without mentioning the series winner Kate/Alex. Because let’s face it Kate/Alex was Dan’s time on The Circle in one word… well two!
Dan grew incredibly close to Kate throughout the process referring to her as ‘cute’ ‘my favourite’ ‘the best’ and even fancying “her” to start with, this would have been the start of a beautiful friendship or even relationship IF and there’s a bit BUT here Kate was actually who “she” claimed to be and wasn’t in fact a guy called Alex using his real life girlfriend Millie’s images to create the ultimate popular profile. Dan was quick to jump to protect Kate/Alex’s when Freddie started trolling her/him for sitting on the fence and not having an opinion. By opening voicing his opinions Dan earned himself the namesake of #DirectDan from Freddie. However, before we are quick to jump on the hate Alex bus that’s driving around Twitter at the moment make sure you head over to Imogen’s post to read her thoughts on the 2018 winner of The Circle and his winning game plan.
Do nice guys always finish last?
I feel there was a lot of unfair hate directed at Dan on Twitter Monday night following his reaction to face to face meeting with Kate/Alex. This is one of the main reasons I decided to write this post because YES Dan was rude, but he was saying it like it was and expressing his true feelings. Let’s not forget though that being Catfished must be an incredibly hard experience when you’ve become emotionally invested in someone only to discover that they are fake, and their intentions weren’t genuine (something that is also highlighted on the MTV series Catfish). #DirectDan was Catfished not once not twice but three times in the series. The first was Christopher – Sinead came into the circle as 67 elderly man but was swiftly blocked. Dan started to grow suspicious of Kate/Alex and many people would argue that although he was only lying about his gender he had genuine intentions and never actually flirted with Dan or led him on. Mairead was an over the top obvious Catfish who Dan instantly saw through and blocked. But the fact he couldn’t see the truth behind Kate/Alex mirrors the point that all contestants were suspicious yet still LIKED Kate/Alex and didn’t want to send her/him home.
Dan’s behaviour on the show raises the question whether there is space for nice, genuine people on social media or in real life for that fact. Sadly, it highlights the fact that in this increasingly photo shopped world FAKENESS wins over honesty.
“I have to admit as mad as I was at Dan for his reaction to Alex/Kate, I do feel for him now having to watch the guy who’s lied to him for 3 weeks potentially win £75,000 and take home the girl he really wants in front of his face
#TheCircleFinal #TheCircle”- @hannahellenW
Although Dan didn’t win I want his experiences to act as a lesson to everyone. Stay true to who you are, don’t fake something or try to be someone you aren’t. Even if that only gets you 10 likes or 500 followers’ quality is better than quantity. Creating a fake profile or over emphasising personal qualities is a tempting prospect when social media is swamped with ‘popular’ people. I guess you could call me a real-life Dan, across all my social channels and my blog what you see is what you get. I never use filters on my images and I don’t lie (that stems from my experiences of two exes lying to me).
His journey more importantly acts as a key reminder of the dangers of Catfishing and chatting to people online when you don’t know who the real person behind the screen is. In this modern age of technology the threat of people lying about who they are online is increasing.
Think you’re talking to Kate who might be the one? Think again. People aren’t always who they portray to be on social media. Don’t be a
#DirectDan. Be wary & don’t let strangers online exploit your trust & gift them your (prize) money. #TheCircleFinal #Catfish #DontDropYourGuard –@policescotland
Many of my friends have met with guys they met online who looked NOTHING like their profile photos and even if they did without the protection of hiding behind a screen they were painfully awkward. To avoid this, I’d recommend speaking to the person on the phone and face-timing before you visit in person and always tell people where and when you are meeting a online date.
Dan – if you ever read this people might say you didn’t deserve to win because you didn’t ‘play the game’ but you played the game straight, you were confident enough in yourself to go into the show and just BE YOU – no tricks, no lies. And although it didn’t win you 50k staying true to yourself is priceless.
Relationship status: Single
Playing as: Plain Jane version of herself
A fun-loving bubbly fashion student, Sian’s modelling career took off after she posted pictures online. Describing herself as super competitive she went into The Circle using her own photos but dressing them down in order to appear approachable.
Sian’s Circle Experience
Although she consistently rated highly with the players, Sian had the most clashes with other players falling out with Kate/Alex who she branded as ‘sneaky’ and ‘fake’ before battling with Hannah and Precious for Scotty’s affection. It was her argument with Precious that caused the most uproar though, it was like watching two school girls go for each other but behind the safety of a screen the word ‘trashy’ was thrown around a lot. I personally found this painful to watch because I’m sick of bitchy-ness towards other women based on fighting over guys.
Sian is the classic Instagram influencer, the popular girl at school that all the guys fancied, and all the girls wanted to be like. In real life she has 47.6k followers and gets 2,000 likes on every photo she posts. Sian played an interesting game admired in social media outside of The Circle for her raunchy and heavily makeup focused images, she went into the circle to test whether people liked her for her personality or her looks. Using stripped back images with no makeup and wearing baggy clothes Sian got rid of the ‘fakeness’ to gain people’s trust. And quite frankly it worked, she soon became one of the most popular girls the #GoldenGirl of The Circle voted influencer and super influencer several times.
Sian’s friendship with Freddie was crucial to his survival as Imogen discusses. Their ‘bestie’ relationship although deemed genuine was in my opinion a total game plan ploy from both of them, especially from Freddie’s perspective as he’d often bitch about her during the process. This raises the issue that are friendships we make online true or are they just to satisfy loneliness or help promote people’s own agenda. Ultimately again they were both lying to each other which isn’t a great foundation for friendship…
Dan called Sian ‘perfect’ and remarked at how she was ‘annoyingly good at everything’, I’d agree with his view but I do also believe she had a air of arrogance because of this. Sian fits into the concept that to be popular you need to appear to be perfect, because although at the start she used plain images she then started to introduce more raunchy images that got the guys left in The Circle even more eager to keep her on side. Her reaction to the reveal of Freddie and Kate/Alex also shows just how she understood the game more than Dan, she had her suspicions on them both but developed friendships with them regardless in order to progress.
Is she really a golden girl?
Throughout the process though she clashed with both Hannah and Precious over Scotty it got very bitchy and although she claims she was misunderstood in reality she would have likely been reported for her trolling comments towards Precious in particular. Sian reminds me of some of the bitchy girls I used to clash with at school. At secondary school I didn’t wear much makeup (I still don’t these days either) so I didn’t conform with what guys saw as sexy (until I hit college when natural beauty was FINALLY appreciated) or what girls seeked out to be popular potentially for their gang. so, I found it very hard to warm to her, I’ll admit I am envious of her beauty, her incredible figure and her bubbly personality especially in an image obsessed world. But mainly it was because something about her just seemed FAKE – I can’t quite put my finger on what it was exactly though… The majority of the public were extremely positive about Sian even wanting her to win….
My final word
The Circle was an ingenious show and it will no doubt give the contestants their ten minutes of fame and make Alex and his girlfriend Millie 75k richer. But in a way it makes us all richer for the lessons we’ve learnt. Catfishing is a real danger in our modern society and trolling occurs much more frequently then we realised or would like to accept. Some how technology is leading us to believe that its ok to be whoever you want to be and say whatever you like without real repercussions which often results in tragic consequences for peoples lives.
“On reflecting I feel like the final wasn’t judged fairly. All came down to who was the most tactical as opposed to who was the most popular. Alex deserved the people’s vote, he is hilarious. But either Sian or Dan deserved the big one, but too genuine to get it
#TheCircleFinal” – @dreameramy84
I totally agree with the view that many people had about the voting process. I believe Channel 4 should look at the way the winner is decided and take a average rating formed from across the whole series rather than basing the result just on the last tactical vote.
The Circle makes me question are we really ok about our children growing up in an image conscious world where fakeness is rewarded? Everyone is so hung up on conforming to this idealistic perfect image that society demands so the show was a refreshing way to allow people to be who ever they wanted to be.