I will be completely upfront right off the bat with my distaste for reality television and how I feel that it is incredibly annoying to watch. With that said, I have recently found myself in a bit of a reality show kick with two new releases by Netflix. I was going to do separate reviews for each of these shows, but I felt it would work better to do them both since I watched them so close together and I would end up comparing them to one another anyways. They aren’t by any means the same kind of show, but since these will likely be the only reality shows I watch anytime soon, I’m just going to compare the two and how I think one does reality show right while the other is more of a gimmick.
Starting with Love is Blind, the simple gist of the show is that a group of selected people have to go on dates with each other where they can only hear each other and not actually see them. If they feel a real connection with a certain person then they are to propose to them and in that case they will then get to see each other. They will then spend time with each other for a few weeks and if things work out then they will get married. The premise is a gimmick that is made to spark interest in this experiment. When I first heard about the show, I thought it was an interesting gimmick but dumb at the same time. Well, one day I was trying to go to the store and it was on the TV in my living room and I watched two minutes of it which then turned into five hours before I finally made it to the store.
The show did its job by sucking me in right off the bat with the whole gimmick, however I found myself continuously complaining how dumb it actually was. The whole concept and how everyone acted was so cringeworthy and made me want to beat my head against the wall and yet I was loving every bit of it. I was sucked in at that point and wanted to see how exactly things turned out for all of the contestants. They accomplished exactly what they were trying to do with me. I think the most interesting I noticed about reality television in this case was how interested I was in how other people reacted to certain situations. Not all reality TV is like this, but this show specifically gives us an opportunity to live through their lives as things unfold with them. In a sense, I found myself being the inner voice of some of the contestants like Mark. Poor Mark. If there was a drinking game with shots taken anytime Mark was completely oblivious to how stupid he was being then you would be wasted in a single episode.
I know it’s a bit of a mix bagged kind of reaction from me with how I call the show incredibly stupid but also impressively addictive, but that’s the best way to explain how I felt the whole time watching it. It was the ultimate hate watch. Outside of the basics of the show, it does a lot of things well as far as how it presents itself and gets you invested in these people. It does well at delivering on what it promises the show to be and of course there are surprises throughout. Where the show drops the ball though is where it plays it way too safe in terms of what they could’ve done with the dating. I understand that people in society are ignorant and maybe the show wouldn’t be as successful with what I’m about to say, but it would have been far more intriguing. Why are none of the contestants anything other than good looking people?
I feel like the experiment would have been a far more interesting test if you had people that were all completely different rather than all people who generally pretty good looking. It would have made the whole proposing by personality more compelling when they finally meet face to face only to be something way different than what they were expecting. Again, I know that maybe it wouldn’t have worked to get to the actual marriage part but I would have loved to have seen it. Really the highlight of the show was when Carlton reveals that he’s bisexual and waits till after he proposes to tell Diamond which ended up being the absolute best moment of the show. The only other moments that match this is literally every scene with Mark and Jessica. I think I kept watching mostly to see how dumb these two both are, but it was so entertaining to watch despite the stupidity of it.
Okay, so the show succeeds because it was able to hook someone like me into watching the whole thing and being completely invested despite it being one of the dumbest things I’ve seen. It fails though because it doesn’t take advantage of what they actually could have done with it to make it far more interesting. The show took a long time to film just one season so I’m sure it will be a while before we see a season 2. I would say that I’m not excited to check out season 2, but writing this now I’m starting to feel a little more excited to see it. Damnit.
The Circle is actually a pretty great show. Yes it is very much a reality show in a certain sense, but it’s also a game show at the same time. The basic premise is that we start with a group of people who are all separated into their own rooms and decide whether they want to create a real profile or a catfish profile. Once they do that, they interact with each other via text. The point is to connect with everyone by any means to boost your popularity ranking. If you finish in the top 2 then you both get to vote off one person. The show actually takes many turns with this setup whether it be changing how people are voted off or adding new interesting people to shake up the original group.
To me, this is a more intriguing case study or experiment of human interaction without being able to actually see one another. It starts to put in perspective how exactly people are deceived by a catfish and how easy it is to make some believe that you are who you say you are even if it really isn’t you. Going in I was thinking that those who were being a catfish would get found out easily, but that wasn’t the case the whole time. Really I don’t know how comfortable I’m supposed to feel knowing that a catfish could be so deceiving.
I like this show more than Love is Blind because it doesn’t focus solely on an intimate relationship building into a marriage, rather it focuses on all of this people being themselves or being fake in a certain way to build normal relationships the same way you would with anyone you meet online. It’s a situation that is more fun to watch and more easily relatable. The fun comes because you know who everybody actually is while the others don’t and it’s just fun to see how their relationships actually build throughout the show. It also tops Love is Blind where it actually has totally different people with different personalities and looks which is a bonus.
Without giving spoilers away, the best relationship built through the show is easily Joey and Shooby. They have a true bromance that builds throughout to the point that I could actually see them being close outside of this show. The only downside I would say about all of this interacting is a comment made but one of the later additions about everyone being fake. Not necessarily that they were all a catfish but that they are all talking fake to each other to build fake relationships just to boost their popularity. In some instances I do agree with this statement because of course it is a game, but it’s when we get to the end and see our final five get to meet each other face to face that you realize it may not be entirely true. Of course the intention is to win the game, but it seems that while saying what they needed to say to stay popular they also developed true feelings for each other as friends.
In the end, these two shows offer us two very different looks at reality television. Love is Blind focused more on the intimate relationship part and seemed more ridiculous by the time we got to the end, but it still has a good enough hook to keep me invested the whole time. The Circle exceeds Love is Blind because it creates an experiment that is truly engaging and ever changing with far more surprises and twists. It also gives us people that are more likeable and more fun to watch as they interact with each other. I don’t know how well each show did as far as views go, but I do know that The Circle is receiving a new season plus along with spinoff seasons in other countries so I feel that this show may have been more of a hit amongst viewers. While Love is Blind was more of a hate watch, The Circle was truly a fun time watching. If I was to suggest to someone to only watch one then I would suggest The Circle, but both come down to having interesting premises that I believe are a good hook for anyone even someone like me who wouldn’t normally watch these kind of shows.
If you have seen either of these shows and you have comments or questions then make sure to comment below or send an email to TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TowerCityMedia