If you have a Netflix account, then chances are you've already marathoned your way through the streamer's new hit reality series The Circle. The series revolves around a mysterious social media app called The Circle, which is kind of like a hybrid of Instagram, Facebook, and an Amazon Alexa. While viewers got to know the contestants very well throughout the first season, there are a lot of questions about how the app worked and what day-to-day life was like in sequestered hotel rooms that plagued fans. Well, look no further than these The Circle behind-the-scenes facts to clear up any confusion you may have about the series.
Before landing on Netflix, The Circle began as a British reality series that premiered in the fall of 2018. The original series aired a second season at the end of 2019 before becoming an international sensation, thanks to Netflix picking up U.S., French, and Brazilian adaptations of the show. While the latter two adaptations have yet to premiere, the U..S. series had all of Twitter buzzing when it dropped its first four episodes on Jan. 1, 2020. Over the following two weeks, The Circle released the rest of its eight episodes in two chunks. While the series may have been a quick watch for viewers who got hooked, a lot more went into making it than fans may realize. These details about what was really going on behind the scenes at that The Circle hotel building will make you see the show in a whole new light.
1. There were more contestants than fans saw.
Viewers got to meet 13 contestants over the course of Season 1 (well, 14, if you want to count Ed and Tammy separately), but there were actually a few more who fans never got to meet. Executive producer Tim Harcourt revealed that between 20 to 25 people were actually cleared to participate in The Circle Season 1, but of course, not all of them wound up getting sent into the game. Harcourt said producers decided which potential contestant to bring in based on the most recent elimination, adding that they'd be sure to send in a new woman if a woman had been eliminated or a new man to replace an eliminated man.
2. The messages were all typed out by producers.
Sorry to burst your bubble if you were in awe of the next-level voice recognition capabilities of The Circle app, but the messaging system was actually run by fast-typing producers behind the scenes. Harcourt revealed when viewers saw players dictating their Circle messages, they were actually being transcribed by producers and then sent to the other players' screens.
3. Chatting with other players was not instantaneous.
While speaking with Elite Daily, contestant Shubham Goel revealed the process for chatting with another player was not as seamless as it appeared. In reality, players had to clear chat requests with producers rather than just opening a conversation whenever they felt like it:
You basically had to request a chat with someone, and then the production would approve it based on if that other person was in a chat or if there’s time left in the day. So you could request it and prioritize it ... So if you haven’t talked to a person in a while, I’d be like, “Oh, I want to prioritize a chat with Chris tonight.” But it’s not instantaneous where we’re like, “Open chat up” and then it opens.
4. The show was filmed in 15 days.
Surprisingly, The Circle's filming time was the exact same as its airtime. The contestants were sequestered in their rooms for just over two weeks.
5. The U.S. version has a major difference from the UK version.
In the original UK version of The Circle, episodes air daily right after they are filmed, allowing viewers to follow along in real time with the players. That version of the show even allows for audience members to influence and interact with elements of the game. However, this was not possible for the U.S. version, given how Netflix works. The full first season for Netflix was filmed at the end of summer in 2019, months before it aired.
6. The U.S. version was still filmed in England.
Despite various interstitial shots of American cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, the U.S. version of The Circle was filmed in the same building the UK version is filmed in, which is located in Salford, England.
7. Phones and laptops were banned.
To keep players from researching their fellow contestants online, Harcourt confirmed the producers did not allow players to have phones or laptops throughout the entirety of the filming process.
8. Players could watch some Netflix, though.
While it was never shown in the final footage, Harcourt did say contestants were occasionally given permission to watch a Netflix drama.
9. The gym and roof really were the only other approved locations.
When it comes to where the contestants were allowed to go in that big building, what you saw on the show is exactly what you got. Both Goel and fellow contestant Joey Sasso confirmed to Elite Daily that the only places they were allowed in aside from their assigned room were an exercise room and the rooftop.
10. Each player had a producer helping them out at first.
Since The Circle is such a strange new experience, Harcourt said each player was assigned a producer to help guide them through how the game worked and help them articulate their thoughts for the first couple of days. They were also there to ensure the player didn't get too lonely. After a few days, though, Harcourt said the players all got the rhythm of the game and didn't need any more guidance.
Hopefully these technical facts about how The Circle really worked give fans a new understanding about what went into the show. Netflix has yet to pick up a second season of the U.S. version, but if it happens, these tidbits will be great to keep in mind when devouring another season.