Channel 4’s newest gameshow The Circle has risen in popularity due to its social media element, appealing to younger viewers. However, it has received criticism for relying heavily on body image and catfishing.
The Circle is a reality/game show hosted by television presenter Maya Jama and Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine. Centred around a fake social media site with the same name, contestants must gain popularity and interact with each other through the site, while living in separate apartments in the same building. Throughout the show, the contestants will rate each other from most to least liked, and will be at risk of being blocked or removed from the app, and the competition. At the end of the series, the user who has gained the most popularity will win the contest and will leave with £50,000 in prize money. The show began on the 18th of September and will continue to air for three weeks, six days a week, taking a break on Saturdays.
While many have criticised the show for promoting the problems of our modern world- catfishing and the heavy emphasis on looks, which puts pressure on many people to look a certain way to be liked- it has been widely viewed, with the show trending on Twitter every time an episode airs, with many becoming “addicted” to the social media show.
Catfishing and Body Image Element
The Circle unintentionally highlights the negative aspects of social media, as viewers see the contestants interact with each other through messages on the site. The contestants had the choice to catfish or not, some choosing to be themselves, while others decided to take on a different persona to gain likes and followers. One example of this is Alex, who has been fooling his fellow competitors into thinking he is actually a she; a female doctor called Kate. He has gone as far as to flirt with other contestants to gain their trust, and most crucially, their follows.
Catfishing has become a rising problem in recent years with the growing popularity of social media. This makes the use of catfishing in a popular mainstream show even more concerning, as the show has presented it as being fun. This has the power to make easily influenced young people decide to catfish for ‘fun’, because they have seen people on a TV show do it, and be rewarded for it. The same can be said for the great influence the way people look has on the game, with many become popular for that reason alone and gaining from it.
Overall, The Circle, however entertaining it may be, is promoting exactly what we are trying to stamp out in today’s society: the sole focus on body image. This is highly dangerous, and could easily make the problem worse. With the pressure to look ‘perfect’ intensifying, this show only emphasises it and the world’s unhealthy addiction to social media.
- By Lucy Wright, Editor of Culture
- Sources: The Sunday Telegraph, The Guardian, iNews, Twitter