The Circle (American TV series)

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The Circle
The Circle US.png
Official title screen for the show.
GenreReality competition
Presented byMichelle Buteau[1]
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes12
Executive producers
  • Shane Byrne
  • Tim Harcourt
  • Stephen Lambert
  • Daisy Lilley
  • Susy Price
  • Chet Fenster
  • Richard Foster
  • Toni Ireland
Production locationsSalford, England
Running time44–63 minutes
Production companyStudio Lambert
Original networkNetflix
Picture format16:9
Original releaseJanuary 1, 2020 (2020-01-01) –
present (present)
Related shows
External links

The Circle (sometimes called The Circle US[2][3] to differentiate from other international versions) is an American reality competition series, produced by Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group which first aired on Netflix in January 2020 that is based on a British TV series of the same name.[4] Alongside the American version of The Circle, Netflix is also launching different versions in France and Brazil, as part of a partnership between Netflix and All3Media.[5] The series bills itself as a game based around social media, with the concept that "anyone can be anyone in The Circle." It has been compared to Big Brother and Catfish in format,[6] as well as Black Mirror episode "Nosedive" with the concept of ratings.[7]

Within the show, contestants are isolated with their own apartments, and can only communicate to the other contestants via "The Circle", ostensibly a computer program which transcribes their messages into text as if in a social media app. Contestants are thus able to present completely different identities to the others to hopefully win them over. Every so often, the group of contestants are asked to rate their fellow contestants, with the top vote-getters becoming the "Influencers" of the Circle, giving them the power to "block" one contestant from the circle, eliminating them from the game.

The first season began airing on January 1, 2020;[8] after Netflix released an exclusive cut of the first episode on YouTube on December 30, 2019.[9] The first season concluded its run on January 15, 2020 and was hosted by Michelle Buteau.[1] Joey Sasso won the first season of The Circle and the US$100,000 prize that came along with it.[10] Shubham Goel was the runner-up. Sammie Cimarelli won the Fan Favorite award and US$10,000.[11][12]

Netflix renewed The Circle for a second and third season on March 24, 2020.[13][14]


The contestants, or "players", move into the same apartment building. However, the contestants do not meet face-to-face during the course of the competition, as they each live in their own individual apartment. They communicate solely using their profiles on a specially-designed social media app that gives them the ability to portray themselves in any way they choose. Players can thus opt to present themselves as a completely different personality to the other players, a tactic otherwise known as catfishing; for example, one male player in the first season presented himself as a female identity, while another female contestant used photos of a woman she felt was more attractive.[15]

Throughout the series, the contestants "rate" one another from first to last place. At the end of the ratings, their average ratings are revealed to one another from lowest to highest. Normally, the two highest-rated players become "Influencers", while the remaining players will be at risk of being "blocked" by the Influencers. However, occasionally there may be a twist to the blocking process – varying from the lowest rating players being instantly blocked, the identity of the Influencers being a secret, or multiple players being blocked at one time. Blocked players are eliminated from the game, but are given the opportunity to meet one player still in the game in-person. Then, the day after a blocking, a video message is shown to the remaining players to reveal if they were real or fake.[15]

During the finale, the contestants rate each other one final time, where the highest rated player wins the game and US$100,000. Also, fans of The Circle are able to vote for their favorite player. The player that receives the most votes is known as the Fan Favorite and receives US$10,000.[16][17]

Series overview[edit]

Season Originally Aired Episodes Players Winner Viewers' Champion
Start Date End Date Player Prize Player Prize
1 January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01) January 15, 2020 (2020-01-15) 12 14 Joey Sasso $100,000 Sammie Cimarelli $10,000


Season 1 (2020)[edit]

No. in
Title [18]Original air date [18]
Week 1
11"Hello, Circle"January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
22"Face-to-Face"January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
33"There's a Catfish Among Us"January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
44"Planting Doubt"January 1, 2020 (2020-01-01)
Week 2
55"Sliding into DMs"January 8, 2020 (2020-01-08)
66"Anonymous Trolling"January 8, 2020 (2020-01-08)
77"Picking Teams"January 8, 2020 (2020-01-08)
88"The Player I'm Saving Is ..."January 8, 2020 (2020-01-08)
Week 3
99"Instant Block"January 15, 2020 (2020-01-15)
1010"Declare Your Rival"January 15, 2020 (2020-01-15)
1111"The Last Rating"January 15, 2020 (2020-01-15)
1212"Finale"January 15, 2020 (2020-01-15)



Tim Harcourt is the creative director of Studio Lambert, which produces the British and American versions of the show. Harcourt wondered what a reality show would look like if the people never met face-to-face. He had also been considering the idea of a bird's-eye view-style documentary of an apartment building, seeing into each of their lives. He began to work on The Circle after hearing that Channel 4 was looking for a reality-show format centered on social media.[19]


The British version of the show premiered in 2018, and was renewed for its second season a few months after the first season ended.[20][21] After the first season was Channel 4's "youngest profiling" show in six years, according to the British TV industry magazine Broadcast, talks began of international versions.[19] On October 8, 2018, Netflix announced its partnership with All3Media to create three international versions of The Circle on Netflix, including the American version. Brandon Reigg, Netflix's Vice Principal of Unscripted Content, stated, "We think the show's combination of modern social media interaction and competition will captivate Netflix members around the world, in multiple languages, and we're delighted to partner with Studio Lambert and Motion to produce these three new local versions."[22]

On March 24, 2020, Netflix renewed The Circle for a second and third season.[13] The same day, casting for season two opened.[14]


The Circle app[edit]

Each apartment that the players live in is plastered with screens in every room in order for the players be able to hold conversations with other players as they go about their everyday lives. Each player starts out the game by creating a profile. This includes sharing their age, relationship status, a short bio, and one photo to use as their profile picture. Every day, the players are allowed to share a status update, explaining their thoughts for the day. Sometimes, either through rewards or passing a certain milestone, the players are allowed to upload another photo to their profile.[23] Throughout the competition the Circle app remains the only way players can communicate with each other.[23]

During a typical episode, the Circle prompts participation in a minigame. Tim Harcourt of Studio Lambert says that "some games were really good for bonding them, some were really good for them learning about each other, some were good for testing who's a catfish, some could have been more divisive."[23]

Most episodes also included a rating exercise. Each player would rank others in The Circle, then an average score would determine the overall placements of each player. Depending on how high or low their average placement was, the player's ranking would determine whether they became an influencer. Typically the two players with the top rankings would be Influencers, with the advantage of determining the player being eliminated, or "blocked."[23][24]

Apartment building[edit]

As was the same for all versions of The Circle, the first season of The Circle US was shot entirely in an apartment building in Salford, England.[25] The apartment building is always prepared with twelve furnished and ready-to-use apartments for the players to live in.[26] The building also has an exercise room and a rooftop lounge, which are also outfitted with cameras and television screens.[27] One room in the building, called "the testimonial room," is the room players go to after they are blocked to create their goodbye video to the remaining players.[28] On the outside of the building is a large, lit up circle made of a roughly 82-foot (25-meter) diameter aluminum track with LED lights strung through and around the circle.[26]

Opposite the apartment building was the control room, which was previously a college campus that became disused.[26] At any time in the control room, there were between twenty and thirty producers and camera operators working, recording, and sending all the messages from The Circle.[26]


  1. ^ a b @MichelleButeau (December 10, 2019). "I'm hosting this show & you should watch 👇🏽✨💯" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ @CastTheCircleUS. "The Circle US Casting 🇺🇸". Twitter. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  3. ^ @CastTheCircleUS. "The Circle US". Facebook. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  4. ^ Deen, Sarah. "The Circle US is coming as Netflix plan three new versions of the Channel 4 series". Metro. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  5. ^ Elise Sandberg, Bryn. "Netflix to Adapt U.K. Reality Series 'The Circle'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  6. ^ White, Peter. "Netflix Remakes Studio Lambert's British Reality Series 'The Circle' In The U.S. & Two Other Global Markets". Deadline. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  7. ^ Abdulbaki, Mae (September 26, 2019). "Netflix's New Reality Competition The Circle Is Already Super Popular In The U.K." Cinema Blend. Retrieved September 29, 2019.
  8. ^ Netflix (December 10, 2019). "The Circle - A Netflix Reality-Competition Official Trailer Netflix". YouTube. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  9. ^ Netflix (December 30, 2019). "The Circle - EPISODE ONE - Exclusive Cut - Netflix". YouTube. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  10. ^ WROC Staff (January 15, 2020). "The Circle spoilers: How ROC native Joey Sasso finished on Netflix's new reality show". Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  11. ^ Sheridan, Wade (January 17, 2020). "'The Circle': Sammie Cimarelli wins Fan Favorite". UPI. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  12. ^ @thecirclenetflix (January 17, 2020). "You voted. #TheCircle listened! 🤑 The Circle Fan Favorite and winner of $10,000 is ..." Instagram. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Netflix (March 24, 2020). "Moments of Joy from Real Netflix Shows - New season announcements". YouTube. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Thorne, Will (March 24, 2020). "Netflix Orders More 'Love Is Blind,' 'The Circle,' 'Rhythm + Flow' and Marie Kondo". Variety. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Kuchera, Ben (January 10, 2020). "Netflix's The Circle is the sweetest reality show about catfishing". Polygon. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  16. ^ @CircleNetflix (January 8, 2020). "🚨ALERT!🚨 It's time to vote for #TheCircle Fan Favorite. You can decide which player you'd rank #1 and get them $10,000! Go to to vote now!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  17. ^ @thecirclenetflix (January 8, 2020). "🚨ALERT!🚨 It's time to vote for The Circle Fan Favorite. You can decide which player you'd rank #1 and get them $10,000! Tap the link in our bio and vote now☝️". Instagram. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "The Circle". Netflix. Retrieved December 25, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Smallman, Etan (December 29, 2019). "Inside 'The Circle,' Reality TV Gets a Social Media Filter". London, United Kingdom: The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  20. ^ Tutton, Charlotte (January 18, 2019). "The Circle season 2 confirmed as Channel 4 series returns with a HUGE twist". OK! Magazine. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  21. ^ Ling, Thomas. "The Circle series 2 confirmed – but there are going to be some changes". Radio Times. Retrieved January 19, 2019.
  22. ^ "Netflix to Adapt UK Unscripted Sensation The Circle with Three Local Versions for Countries Around the World". Hollywood, California: Netflix Media Center. October 8, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d Turchiano, Danielle (January 1, 2020). "'The Circle' Boss on Connecting 'People Who Otherwise Might Not Have Come into Contact with Each Other' — And Catfishing". Variety. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
  24. ^ Fallo, Julie (January 3, 2020). "The Circle: US Version Has a Shot at Succeeding From All the Right Changes". Screen Rant. Retrieved January 15, 2020.
  25. ^ Anderton, Joe. "The Circle may be coming back sooner than you think". Digital Spy.
  26. ^ a b c d Haylock, Zoe (January 21, 2020). "The Circle's Creator Guides Us Through the Show's Beautiful Web of Lies". Vulture. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  27. ^ Netflix (January 14, 2020). "Go Inside The Circle Apartment Complex with Michelle Buteau – Netflix". YouTube. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  28. ^ Fuentes, Tamara (January 14, 2020). "Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of "The Circle" and Check Out the Apartments". Seventeen. Retrieved January 23, 2020.

External links[edit]