Anyone can be anyone on The Circle. Just like on social media, you can be genuinely you in all your glory, a glamorized version of yourself, or even ... someone else. The sky is the limit!
And with the odd exception of hitting viral status, it takes some work to get popular online. (Unless you're a cat. Cat videos always work.)
The Circle, which is the juicy new reality TV show on Netflix, turns this concept into a full-blown competition. If you ever wanted to turn your daily scrolling and texts into a chance for cold hard cash, this would be it.
Similar to Survivor and Big Brother, The Circle plays off many of the key reality TV staples: relationship-building, surprise twists, making strategies, and eliminations. Eventually, someone at the end gets awarded a prize. (Simple enough, right?)
The difference here, however, is that The Circle focuses mainly on social games. No challenges will provide immunities; it is up to the players' personalities to avoid being "blocked" and hopefully make it to the end.
Though, the main hurdle: the players will never meet each other until they're eliminated. The game is run completely through a TV social app called, (you guessed it) "The Circle."
The Circle is a unique landscape than anything reality TV fans and competitors have encountered before.
So, with a new competition style, there are some helpful standards that potential players should keep in mind if they hope to get far and win The Circle. That's where this guide comes in!
I've watched and analyzed the first four episodes of The Circle US on Netflix, as well as the two seasons from the original UK series on Channel 4. These tips are accumulated from what has worked and failed for the players, and separately, what catfishes need to remember if they want to find success on The Circle.
NOTE: As with any reality show, the players affect the season. Depending on personalities and how people react to chats/moves/twists, these exceptions can alter the progression. The guide below is based on the average success and main tips to apply.
With that being said, let's start with the first lesson...
The Circle loves throwing unexpected twists and changes at its cast. You never know what to expect when the "Alert!" message pops up on the screen.
Regardless of whatever game is launched, a new persona is introduced, or twist affects the round, you need to be flexible. Prepare for the unknown and go with the flow. If you're unwilling to change plans, you'll find yourself slowly being left out of the loop and off the radar.
The same can be said about conversations with fellow players.
As you adapt, so are the other competitors. They're playing the game and building bonds with other players too.
Keep a keen eye as to what people are saying. For example, if the last few conversations with "Shubham" mentioned positive notes about "Joey," that's a flag about a potential alliance you shouldn't ignore.
2. Go For Genuine Conversation (Avoid Surface-Level Chats).
Concise and short chats might be your bread and butter in the real world, but they won't do anything for you on The Circle. There's only so much a "That's cool" or "K" message will translate on the screen.
Ambiguity is your worst enemy in this context. No one will connect with you or trust you if they don't feel like you're giving anything back to them.
If you're too closed off, it makes you seem shady, or worse, boring.
Open up and have a real conversation like you would have with your friends! Show your concern when needed, be fun, or expand on your thoughts.
Making your competitors believe that they're making friends/connections will curry you protection when it comes time for rankings.
3. Talk To Everyone.
Seriously, why wouldn't you talk to all your fellow players?!
You're trapped in an apartment by yourself with lots of time to kill. As much as finishing puzzles is fun, use some of that time to connect with the players to plant the seeds of friendship.
The last thing you want going into a ranking or blocking ceremony is for another player to say the dreaded words: "I don't know them or have a connection with them."
More than a few past players' shyness has spelled this disaster on The Circle.
4. Mention Some Life Stories.
The best (and easiest) way to foster a new connection is by mentioning stories from your life.
Since the players can't see each other, you need to build an emotional connection and make it seem that you're a genuine person. Sharing about your past, your family/friends and something that impacts your life opens the door to let someone into your real-life that they may not have known before.
As simple as this tip may seem, a little bit goes a long way.
People look for commonalities toward making friendships or they want to dig deeper into making a shared bond. Opening up about your life helps to flesh out your "persona" more than just relying on your Circle profile.
5. Your Profile DOES Matter!
Speaking of the profile, what you say and the pictures you include are truly the first impression you make to the others. The players have nothing to base their opinions on except for the "persona" you make yourself. Don't waste this golden opportunity!
The profile is the one bit of power you have available.
Choose photos that look authentic and genuine; ones that show emotion or a story that you can talk about later. These "real" photos make it seem like you have nothing to hide. Photos that look overly filtered and posed send the wrong message and create doubt.
For the bio, go for details about yourself that make you seem relatable. If you exaggerate facts that aren't true or keep the profile bare, you lead the others to question your authenticity.
And, if you have a chance, lie and say you're single. Might as well fake a little flirting to win over potential allies.
6. "Floating" Only Gets You So Far. Pick A Position And Stick To It.
The Circle is not the right game to fade into the background or play the middle. Being a non-entity will have you slide faster down the leaderboard more than anything else. Floating works best for Survivor and Big Brother only.
This strategy might help you survive a few blocking ceremonies, but it won't nab you the game. You need to stand out and become a wanted member of the group.
When given the opportunity, speak up!
Join the conversation and share your thoughts about a position. But, if you do state your opinion, stick to it unless given the chance to be flexible. The players are more forgiving of changing thoughts than avoiding the drama altogether.
Playing the fence on every topic makes it seem like you're being too much of a game player. This tactic nearly ruined "Kate's" chances on The Circle UK Season 1.
7. Don't Let Words Get To You.
We're all guilty of this in the real world. Words are just words on a screen without the context of the writer's tone.
So, if a message pops up that is ... questionable, hold back from assuming the worst. They could be sarcastic, joking, or merely meant nothing. Your mind will read the situation the way you want it to appear.
Just look at how Sammie reacted to Miranda's flirtatious joke on The Circle US Season 1! She didn't even consider it anything else but an accusation of her being a catfish.
That game ruined a relationship that could've been fostered.
8. Throw Shade And Instigate At Your Own Risk.
However, if a player is coming for you, the best strategy is to take control of the situation.
A sharp one-liner feels good and sometimes delivers the point, but dragging yourself down the hole further with them is only hurting your chances. Your frenemy wants the others to question keeping you around.
So, don't clapback too quickly!
Stand up for yourself when needed, but let them showcase their clownery instead of blowing up the chat into a full-blown war. And if you're already deep into the fight, try to turn the tables on them.
9. Alliances And Strategies Are Essential!
Whoever said that you don't need alliances to win The Circle is wrong. The Circle is a reality TV competition, which means that the players are aiming to win the game too. So, everything is on the table to get the title and prize.
Make alliances. Craft voting blocs. Develop strategies. Theorize a catfish. Throw people under the bus.
Do what you need to do to propel yourself further into the game with a safety net. Making moves is a shaky road to take, but if you're not building the connections and alliances needed, no one will rank you high or protect you in the blocking ceremony.
We've seen a few cases where houseguests have gotten blocked because they didn't have firm alliances/friendships protecting them, like Antonio on The Circle US Season 1 and Jan on The Circle UK Season 2.
Strategies matter, and thinking ahead for votes can be the difference between winning or losing.
A perfect example is when Ella got blocked at Final 6 on The Circle UK Season 2. Tim and Woody's chances plummeted because they couldn't break through the majority alliance of Paddy, Georgina, and "Sammie."
10. Make A Real Connection First Before Strategies. Your Gameplaying Will Turn Against You.
As mentioned above, "playing the game" can be a shaky road if you don't know how to move around. The Circle is unforgiving when it comes to assumptions. If someone has a bad feeling about you, it will be a tough challenge to win their trust over.
One of these red flags is the appearance of you playing the game too much.
If you're offering deals to every player or throwing out too many theories, you'll begin drawing attention to yourself. People will start to wonder if you're lying and trying to manipulate them into protection. And eventually, they might wonder if you're an untrustworthy catfish.
The best and strongest alliances come from a genuine discussion or when trust has been built over time.
If you're a catfish...
11. Assume Your Identity Completely. You Are Them; No One Else.
This tip might seem like a given, but you would be surprised how many catfishes have failed because they couldn't overcome their dilemma of the fake persona.
Taking on the role of a catfish is embodying a new personality. It's like being in drama class and you're acting in a role. (Or playing an ongoing match of Dungeons & Dragons.)
Some catfishes are luckier than others, like those who play characters that are "themselves" but with different profile images and light life changes. These players have an easier time establishing a character; they're playing a version of themselves, after all.
For those that start from scratch, you need to define your character and make a clear determination to be that person. There shouldn't be any debate about how your character would look at life or respond; you're behind the wheel and should know them best.
12. Flesh Out A Backstory With Key Details To Frame Your Narrative.
Once again, this tip is a case where ambiguity can hurt you in the game.
Past catfishes have made the mistake of creating light backstories in the hopes of not tripping up in chats. The problem with this, however, is that no one can make connections with them. Once they start sharing their life out of desperation, it's already too late to make a real bond.
You have the power to create any story you want for your character. Develop the narrative naturally so that your fellow players feel like they're actually "getting to know you" behind the chat screen.
13. Research life facts beforehand!
Elaborating from the previous point: if you're including anything in your profile or character's history, make sure it's something that you can confidently speak about. No one is expecting you to be a master of all knowledge, but some core facts on favorite hobbies and history would help.
If you don't know soccer, why would you say you're a big fan of a team? Why say you attended a school you've never been to? Why claim to be a mechanic if you don't know cars?
These moments are the ones you look back on as the questionable moves that lost you the game.
Before you head into The Circle, if you have a general idea of the character you want to be, do some research into the topics you want to discuss. This will help prepare you for any questions that come your way.
Or, better yet: when in doubt, leave it out!
14. Write Everything Down That You Said About Yourself.
Notes and notebooks are a blessing on The Circle. Even for the non-catfish players, writing down key facts about your fellow competitors will help you to pull receipts on any shadiness and catfish investigations that might pop up.
For a catfish, create a one-pager about yourself. Jot down all the key facts about your character so that you can look back and reference to get a better idea of the persona.
From that point on, write down every piece of fact you mentioned about your character's life in a chat. You can reference those notes and check to make sure that you're sticking to your story.
A good memory can only go so far.
15. Keep Talking! Shyness Could Ruin Your Game.
There's a strange occurrence that happens to catfishes as the season goes on: they slowly stop talking as much.
This withdrawal is due to the player not wanting to lie anymore or they feel overwhelmed by the game to avoid messing up. It's a sharp contrast and it causes warning signs to the other players.
The Circle (like any other reality TV show) is an emotionally and mentally taxing game that will push you to the limit. But, that stress shouldn't stop you from playing your game.
You need to talk, build relationships, and stick to your story. Keep your eye on the prize!
Do you have any other tips for prospective players of The Circle? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
The Circle US is now available to stream on Netflix.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.