The Circle France

The Circle France. (Screengrab: YouTube)
The Circle France. (Screengrab: YouTube)


5/5 Stars


Status and strategy collide in this social media competition where online players flirt, befriend and catfish their way toward 100 000 euros. 


Imagine a world where you can't leave your home or meet anyone in person and all you have is social media. Oh, and your groceries get delivered or you eat what's in the cupboard. Your only hobbies can be done within four walls and getting dressed up for a video call feels normal.

I don't know about you, but that's my life right now. I know that it's not normal, but that's what life during lockdown is like. Of course, I am very aware of my privilege, but I am also incredibly sad and bored. So, I'm trying to do something different and up my French conversational skills. My girlfriend is fluent and also speaks like three other languages so I might as well feel like I'm trying.

That's why I started streaming The Circle France. At least in part. First and foremost, because I want to get better at French and hearing it spoken is a good way to start. Like when I was in school and I watched 7de Laan to improve my Afrikaans conversational skills.

Secondly, I missed the fun of the American version, that my colleagues and I got so into a lifetime ago. So, I started, and I admit, my hopes weren't high. Pretty much everything feels like a dull imitation of fun right now, so why would this be anything different? But I was wrong! The Circle France is exactly what I need right now.

For those who might not have seen the show before it's a reality programme about seven strangers who have no phones or means of communication with the outside world. Their only form of interaction can be with each other (and the remote film crew who they don't see) via a social network called: The Circle. They can view each other's posts and go into group chats as well as private chats. They aren't allowed to leave their flats except to go work out in a small room with no other contestants. Oh, and they can go to a jacuzzi on the roof, when no one else is there. They can pretend to be someone else in The Circle if they think more people will like them on that basis.

The contestants stay in this living scenario for a few weeks and every couple of days they vote on who they like the most. The most popular players are influencers and can block one other player out the game. This carries on, with lots of tweaks to keep things fresh, until one is left.

It feels like I am seeing my life on screen in a very weird way. I also really enjoy the way it is nothing like my life or even like the American series. French people's way of interacting with each other is just that little bit more nuanced and fascinating.

The producers of the show have also thrown in more twists and turns for the contestants to navigate. There are new and fresh ways of wreaking havoc on the players' carefully laid plans and I am there for every minute of it. And not just because I literally cannot go anywhere else.

Most of the contestants are incredibly good looking and hilarious. There are also these two grannies who I love and made me miss my grandmother. There are romances, betrayals, and lots and lots of awkward moments.

Of course, the main appeal of this show for me lies in the fact that it is pure escape. As much as it reflects my quarantine life, it's also totally ridiculous. It's a world away and fun and classic trash TV. Which is what I need, not because I don't want to know what's happening in the world but because I do. I need space from it. I need to breathe and laugh. Even if just for a few hours a night. Until it ends and I am left bored once again.



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