Parents' Guide to

The Circle

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Reality series is a weird, compelling popularity contest.

The Circle Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 8+

Hear me out

My 7 (almost 8) year old was begging me to watch this show (she has two teenage brothers, so she already sees some tv and movies that are over her maturity rating level). I finally said ok as long as we only watch it together (so I can monitor content, direct discussion, and veto it if it becomes too inappropriate). I think it has actually been a WONDERFUL show to watch together. The cast is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender and sexuality---something my daughter doesn't often get in real life or other shows she watches. The characters are all (surprisingly) really positive role models--not like your typical drama-filled, catty, reality characters. They actually become very attached to each other and behave like kind friends and family towards one another. And the kinder the person, the higher they tend to "rank" in the ratings. (SPOILER: the supermodel gets booted first, and the sweet, nerdy guy is consistently at the top.) There are some people who use fake pictures because they are worried about being judged based on their looks, but they are liked a lot for their personalities---and that has led to great talking points with my daughter. Ultimately, I feel like the theme and take-home message that she is getting is that, when on social media, it is important to be kind and to be yourself, but that some people are pretenders---which I think is valuable for her to learn now, before she is actually on social media. There is a lot of flirting but it is pretty casual and not overtly sexual (and the sexual innuendo, like eggplant emojis, are over her head). Another thing---I have noted multiple times that the contestants seem to be cut off from all forms of technology, besides "the circle." So they can't watch tv, peruse the internet, play on a smart phone...they are constantly shown doing puzzles, reading books, working out, cooking food. So when my daughter makes the "if I were on the circle..." comments, I often ask what kinds of non-screen activities she would do to entertain herself. I would not let a 7 or 8 year old watch alone, but watching it with her has been really fun and a really good teaching opportunity!

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
age 13+

This title has:

Too much swearing

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (21 ):

As reality TV goes there are shows with more gripping drama, but as an exercise in laying bare the hidden mechanisms behind social media socializing, this experiment is intriguing. "This is crazy, I'm going to do this without even meeting people!" says flustered player Sammie before her first Circle rating session. Well, yeah. That's what we all basically do every day, judging other people on a photo or a line of text, as well as judging ourselves for not living up to the idealized images that others project. So it's illuminating to watch Sammie and the other players rating each other more or less highly for things like posting highly filtered images, liking to cook, or having blonde hair.

Perhaps most interesting to watch in The Circle are the two players who choose to project images of other people instead of themselves; both choose to play behind the personas of conventionally attractive young women, reasoning that they'll be more universally liked. Well, sorta. Though the other players are indeed trying to ferret out signs of fakeness and looking for a "catfish," they're just as likely to see the genuine as fake as they are to suss out real trickery. There's a message coming through here, and it's a good one, as ugly as it can be to watch human animals jockeying for power.

TV Details

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