Hey Netflix, Thanks For Trashy Reality Shows Like The Circle And Love Is Blind
The Circle and Love is Blind see the streaming service break into formulaic reality TV, and they're both easy to get sucked into.
Netflix is currently the premiere streaming service for original content. With original programming like Stranger Things, Marriage Story, and The Crown being the talk of the town, earning awards and nominations left and right, the company has cemented itself as a go-to place for high-quality content. However, with its expansion of originals, Netflix has ventured into the realm of trashy reality television, and much of it has been pretty excellent.
When I used the term "trashy reality shows," I'm targeting a specific genre at Netflix. I'm not talking about cooking shows like The Chef Show or Ugly Delicious--both of which are high quality in their own rights. There are even game show originals like Nailed It, but that also doesn't fit the mold. I'm specifically talking about series like The Circle and Love Is Blind--two recently released shows that are undoubtedly the epitome of trashy reality TV, and I cannot stop talking about them.
For the unfamiliar, The Circle is a game show--based on a British one of the same name--where a group of people live in apartments and can only communicate with each other using a social media platform called "The Circle." Some people play the game as themselves, while others catfish their competitors. Players are voted off--while new ones are added--and eventually, one person will be declared the winner and get a bunch of money.
What a terrible trailer, right? The Circle is the cheesiest and most cringe-worthy watch of 2020, mainly because you get to hear people describe emojis. That's right, while communicating with each other, they don't type their responses into The Circle, they say it out loud. If you like lines like, "Circle, open up chat and say, 'Every day is a good day when you're graced in the Lord's presence. Praying hands emoji.' Send message," then you'll love this show. Also, that's something contestant Chris probably said like seven times throughout the first season.
Additionally, viewers are treated to contestants talking to themselves about their interactions with each other, constantly. Do you want to know what Shubham really thinks about his most recent interaction with Rebecca AKA Seaburn (Seaburn is totally a real name on this show)? Well, he'll let you know, for like two minutes straight because Netflix has approximately 45 minutes to fill each episode, and there's not a lot actually happening here. The Circle is not a good show by any means, but it is very much a car crash you can't turn away from watching.
More recently, Netflix released Love is Blind, a dating show probably entirely based on a single line from The Room. Men and women are separated and go on a series of dates where they're placed in pods and cannot see each other. Then, after talking to each other for four hours or so, people begin proposing to each other because… love is blind. You'll quickly learn the premise of the show because hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey will say it to the contestants every time they appear on screen--normally once an episode.
What a terrible trailer, right? That's not where this series ends though. After couples are engaged, they go on a vacation together, then live together, meet each other's family and friends, then get married. Not everyone that makes it out of the pods ends up making it to the altar though. Of course, there is lots of dumb drama ahead, which usually happens when people are drinking. And there is a lot of drinking on this show. Side note: If you can tell me why people on this show drink primarily out of golden goblets, do share because it was driving me nuts.
The winner of the series gets the grand-prize of… marriage--a thing two consenting adults can "win" at any time they want in the real world. The show constantly refers to itself as an "experiment," likening itself to the reality series Love At First Sight without specifically referencing it. However, it's basically just a bunch of pretty people locked in a room until they submit to love. Actually, "Submit to Love" is a good name for a series, Netflix. The BDSM community could really use some mainstream attention.
Both of these shows are mind-numbing, pointless entertainment filled with manufactured drama living in super-long beats with overly-dramatic music blaring over it--much of which was '80s pop music which made zero sense. And yet, I can't find myself turning them off. Did I watch these series, every single week when a new episode aired? Yeah, I did, and I feel no guilt. And if these shows get renewed, I will watch those too--a Brazilian version of The Circle debuts on Netflix this week, and I'll be checking that out too.
We live in the golden age of television. Between cable networks and streaming service originals, there are dozens upon dozens of must-watch series that are well thought out, brilliantly crafted, and expertly plotted out, dragging you in for another season. However, sometimes it's just nice to watch some schlock, something with no inherent cultural value that requires zero brainpower to process. Thankfully, Netflix is slowly cornering that market at well, and while I know I shouldn't be giving in to this trite, there's just something nice about watching this trash.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company
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