Circle fans rejoice! After a long wait for the second season of Netflix's reality series earlier this year, it’s already time for us to head back into the apartments for another round. That’s right, the third season of the social strategy competition debuts September 8, and we’ve got a whole new cast of characters to meet!
The new cast has substantial shoes to fill, as season two’s players were an enormously popular crew. From Savannah and Terilisha’s season-defining feud, to Too Hot to Handle veteran Chloe’s delightful quips, the show's most recent cast had fans invested from the word go. It’ll take a lot for a new cast to raise the bar even further.
Luckily, early observations show this to be a fun group. We don’t know much about how they’re playing in the game just yet, but we do have enough info to make some early first impressions based on how other players of their archetype have done. (For this, we’ll look not just at the US seasons, but also the casts of the sadly canceled UK edition as well. So without further ado, Circle, please bring up the profiles...
Ava is an influencer and former America’s Next Top Model contestant (she was on Nyle DiMarco’s season). Chanel is her big sister working behind the scenes. Together, they’re going in as a team — the second such "player" to enter as a team in the American series. (Jack and Lisa, two blocked players previously known as Emily and Lance, were memorably merged into a team after being blocked last season.) The only other team to go in as such was another family: son and mother Ed and Tammy. They came in late in the first U.S. season and had some ideas on how to shake the game up, but they didn’t have the time to get traction. Coming in at the start means these sisters will have a chance to settle in, but who they decide to play as will likely determine just how far they’ll get.
The key to Calvin’s game may be editing. While the multihyphenate has a lot of professions to his name — chef, personal trainer, even former pro soccer player — too many ingredients could spoil the broth. Circle players are notoriously skeptical of players who seem too good to be true. The very first player blocked from the American series, Alana, was a model who seemed fake to the other players. If Calvin goes in with his full résumé, he’ll need to build some close personal bonds, and fast. That’s the easiest way to battle a catfish perception: it’s what Syed, aka Hashu, did in the third UK season. Though he actually was a catfish, his allies felt so close to him that they ultimately didn’t care. However he chooses to play it, Calvin will need similar relationships.
The young male player archetype is a well-worn one in The Circle: you’ve had Shubaum in the first American season, Woody in the second British season, and both Billy and Vithun in the third British season. Those are, of course, all names of players who did not win. Daniel, who at 20 is tied with last season’s Jack for youngest player in the American game, will have to find a way to succeed where his contemporaries did not. Perhaps that’s as a catfish: Jack did well as Emily before a slip-up in a makeup challenge exposed him. If Daniel plays as himself, he’ll need to find a way to be more than everyone’s kid brother. That may be a fine niche to make it deep in the game, but it’s proving very hard to win with such a strategy.
This self-described Southern belle seems to have the strategic savvy required to win this game. She says in her intro clip that she’ll "throw somebody under the bus, and ask God for forgiveness afterward." This can be a tricky strategy, though! If she hits the ground running too hard, she could risk being a Savannah or Terilisha from last season: burning bright early, then going out before the midpoint of the season. Something tells me she’s a bit more clever than that, though. There’s at least one other Southerner on this list, so if they can connect, she may be able to build a durable social network to survive while playing hard.
Intriguingly, in the cast announcement video below, Season 2 winner Deleesa and fan favorite Chloe dodn’t respond well to Matt — until it's revealed that he’s a catfish. That’s right, Matt will be playing as Ashley, his best friend. The hunky Matt might run into some competition if he were playing as himself: he’s not the only cute guy, and he’s also not the only gay player (Daniel being the other in this eight). As Ashley, a queer woman, he’s got a more specific niche, one that should allow him to make relationships he might not be able to as himself. He’s got to avoid the typical catfish pitfalls of not knowing things you should as your persona, but considering he picked someone so close to him, we’ve got high hopes for Matty Boy — or should we say, Ashley.
At 52, Michelle is the oldest member of this cast — and that is to her immense benefit. Though you might think being older would be a detriment in a game all about social media, elder players have actually had a terrific track record in this game. Be they older players playing as themselves (UK season 2’s Tim), younger players catfishing as older (UK season 3’s Scott, playing as 85-year-old Nana Dot), or older players catfishing as younger (US season 2’s River, aka Lee), age is a very useful weapon in the game. Will Michelle follow in her forbearers’ footsteps? Statistically she’s one of the safer bets to make this season.
"Hot, but also nerdy" is a well-worn archetype in reality television, but Nick is apparently undeterred. He proudly brags of his degree from MIT and work at a big tech company. That kind of intelligence can be intimidating, particularly without the strategy to downplay it. But Nick’s physical attractiveness, should he enter as himself, will be a boon. This cast is full of people who could crush on him, and in a game where you have so little to go on, just being drawn to someone’s looks can help build a bond. We worry worry about him coming across as too cocky, but if he can avoid that pitfall, he may be in great shape.
This Bollywood-loving queen is an early favorite from the intro videos, but there’s something else that intrigues us even more. She, along with her family, was on Family Feud a couple years back. Granted, there’s a wide gulf between the types of games that these shows are. But TV experience of any sort can help — look at how much more instantly comfortable Chloe was in season two than her castmates. When you’re not worried about the TV of it all, you have the mental space to lean into the game more, and get in a groove much quicker. Time will tell if that’s true for Ruksana, but we're optimistic.
The first four episodes of The Circle's third season premiere on Netflix September 8th, with new episode drops each Wednesday through September.
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Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer, host, and RuPaul's Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles.