Final of the Circle

Tonight is the live TV final of the Circle. I will be watching.

The Circle was an attempt to have a new type of reality show on the TV. Whereas previous shows have attempted to see what would happen when strangers met each other and are thrown together, on an island (castaways, bear grylls the island), in a house (real world, big brother, wife swap), they have recently focused on the expert bringing there expertise in a time limited fashion (business or self improvement shows), or finding love for the participants (the undateables, love island, first dates, married at first sight).

In the Circle the contestants live in a block of flats, isolated from each other and outside life, contestants are only able to chat and form relationships over a social media network called the circle (think a Facebook style social media facility). The drama comes from, one having the show as straight popularity contest among the contestants themselves, evaluating each other from their interactions on The Circle network, and two, enabling people to be who ever they want to be on the social media network. So we have a male who is pretending to be a female, we have a gay man pretending to be straight, we had a young female pretending to be an elderly gentlemen.

I like the element of identity creation that social network allows, and think that this element is one of the strong cards of the programme. As viewers we can see what is happening, who “real” and who is pretending to be someone else, even as viewers we can see what the “real truth” is. This is also one of the largest weaknesses of the programme, the premise that you can be who you want online. Can any person be real on a TV programme, how much are you showing yourself, and especially when you are in a edited TV programme which employs a full time editor.

I am also aware of how much I differentiate between the different social media networks. FB and Twitter usage and how I think of the relationships. I can only imagine whom usage of social media would change if I used Instagram or Snapchat. The TV programme only gives the contestants access to one type of social network, I wonder how the specific design and features of the Cicrle social network are affecting what we see.

He twist on the final is that everyone votes for popularity, then will meet on TV live before finding out who has won the £50,000 prize. In many ways this isn’t on. I would prefer if they left people without face to face meeting. I also think the introduction of a £25,000 viewers prize is also a bit annoying.

Even so I have found it addictive viewing. And I liked it. So I will be watching tonight on the live final.

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