A reality comeptition series posing as a social experiment, we've already established that Netflix's The Circle is the perfect show for this moment in time. The series has become a quick hit for the streamer, quickly trending upon its release on New Year’s Day. The good news for fans: It’s only a third of the way done! Another four episodes drop today, with the final batch set to be released next Wednesday.
But where do the players of this tricky social competition stand after Week 1? Whether you’re all caught up or looking to quickly get up to speed, we’ve put together a power ranking of the eight active players (with apologies to blocked players Alana and Antonio, who are permanently out of the game).
Only last on this list because we don’t know much about him yet, married man Alex — who is posing as the handsome-and-single Adam — is the latest catfish to enter The Circle. Catfishing hasn’t been the greatest strategy for players in the game so far, but it’s hardly been the worst. So this could go either way for Alex. If he can get in quickly with the girls, we could see him hanging on for a while.
”Mercedeze” is easily our worst-performing catfish, considering Antonio found out she’s really Karen on his way out and left a not-so-subtle message to the other players warning them of her deceit. We get why Karen chose to hide her identity — a Black, butch lesbian might easily have been targeted for being “threatening” — but her identity as Mercedeze isn’t distinctive enough. Most seem to have clocked that there’s something going on, and Mercedeze hasn’t exactly been lighting the rankings on fire so far. We wouldn’t be shocked to see her go next, especially since Alex/Adam will get safety for his first cycle.
Miranda brought a distinctly different energy into The Circle, flirting from the start and making some decently strong connections. Is it rude to say it feels like her energy is just slightly off from the rest of the group? We still feel like she’s an outsider in the gang, playing to get in while the others are playing to win. She could slip by if the OGs continue to vote each other out, but now that she’s vulnerable post-safety, she could easily be sent out the door.
The thing about Joey is he’s not even love-him-or-hate-him. He’s like-him-or-LOATHE-him. There is no character more divisive this season than this bro, who represents a widely disliked archetype that often finds success on shows like Survivor and especially Big Brother. However, unlike on those shows, Joey’s competitive strength is useless here. The question is whether he can grow his generally decent friendships in the house into something more substantial, or whether his inability to play in any kind of physical competitions will limit his progress this season.
Seaburn is easily our most effective catfish, as his relationship with girlfriend “Rebecca” has made it easy for him to fit in with the ladies. Considering catfishing is one of The Circle’s signature strategies, We have to imagine at least one of them will go the distance. Unless there’s a more convincing one coming, Seaburn is likely the best bet of this crew. His tight bond with Shubham will prove particularly effective — he just won Top Influencer, and you need allies at the top of the heap to keep you safe in this game.
Sammie’s chill! We like Sammie. She’s got the vibe of someone who might go out any second in a sudden blindside, but being the first Top Influencer, and avoiding blocking the second go-around gives us some faith she’s here for the long haul. She’s lucky that the house is male-dominated right now — even if one of those males is posing as a female — because she’s the most ‘guys’ girl’ of the set. We definitely see her surviving over Karen and Miranda, at which point she may be well-positioned to make it all the way to the end.
From the bottom of the ranking to Top Influencer in one cycle. Not bad, Shooby. His is clearly the biggest story of the first batch of episodes, but is he peaking too soon? We always worry about competitors in reality shows whose biggest moments come early, because an arc needs to last for an entire season. If he can keep stories like his friendship with “Rebecca” going, we think he’s got a shot to last a while. But he won’t be able to win Top Influencer every cycle.
We don’t know if Chris can win this, but we'd be utterly shocked if he went out before the finale. Something would have to change drastically. The most fabulous member of The Circle is charisma and charm incarnate. His social game is impeccable, palling around with the girls without letting his connections to the boys slide. He knows what information to keep to himself, and what to share with the group. If we had money on the table, we’d go big on Chris.
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Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer, host, and RuPaul's Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles.