The elusive eggplant is the king of all flirtatious emojis. It has a universal double meaning … or maybe it doesn’t. To one innocent soul, Joey, from Netflix’s new reality show The Circle, 🍆 is just a harmless “purple guy!”

In The Circle, eight contestants enter a house — typical. The twist? The contestants don’t see one another. They live in separate rooms. The only way they can communicate is through a faux social media platform called, to no one’s surprise, “The Circle.” Collectively, the players “block” other contestants, eliminating them. In the end, one player wins both the show and a $100,000 prize.

The second twist? Seaburn. Now, Seaburn may seem like your everyday guy. He’s funny and a bit of a goofball but has a sweet side. The only thing wrong is Seaburn doesn’t play The Circle. “Rebecca” does. That’s right— all the pictures Seaburn posts on his Circle profile and all the connections and personal relationships he makes with other contestants occur while he poses as his real-life girlfriend, Rebecca. He’s a catfish. And he’s not the only one on the show.

This show is gimmicky. It’d be easy to dismiss it as some dumb social media game with dumb catfish jokes. It’d be especially easy to dismiss The Circle if it took itself as seriously as long-time reality television staples such as Survivor or The Bachelor. But it doesn’t. Instead, The Circle is stronger because it recognizes and appreciates its own gimmicks.

But the gimmicks are only the beginning of the show’s genius. Who hasn’t wondered what other people are thinking as those three dreaded dots roll across their phone screen? Who hasn’t been nervous that their flirty text would be interpreted the right way? Has anyone, ever, actually laughed their ass off as they sent an “lmao”? What is the role social media plays in how we define ourselves in society? Is our judge-first-talk-second culture killing true human connection? These are the questions The Circle is uniquely positioned to explore. OK— there’s no reason to commit to the bit and parade this show as a Shakespearean work or a psychological masterpiece that explores the depths of the modern human experience. But why not use any of these ideas to justify doing the twelve-episode binge?

The Circle is blowing up on Twitter, but not because it’s deep. It’s killing it because it is the most memeable, gifable comedy on TV right now. Here are three of the best moments from the show (with only minor spoilers):

1. A Romantic Date… Between Two Catfish

Yes, it sounds dumb. Yes, it is dumb. But it’s impossible not to laugh when one individual pretending to genuinely flirt has to come up with something to say to another person pretending to be interested.

2. The Workout that Never Happened

One guy decides to ironically start a ‘Bros’ group chat. That ‘Bro’ challenges the other ‘Bros’ to do 50 pushups the fastest. Then, everyone sits there doing nothing. Except for poor Shubham, the scrawniest of the bunch, who drops down and does 50. One man comments on his lack of participation in the workout, stating, “Not one crunch did I crunch. Instead I just munched,” as he sat on the toilet eating chips.

3. Girls Group Gone Wrong

Setting the scene, a new player joins The Circle, which happens a few times, and starts a group chat with the other women in the game. In an attempt to connect, she brings up her current menstruation cramps. Little do (most of) the contestants know, but one member of the chat cannot relate to this experience at all because he is male. But he sure tries his best to fit in! Watching a grown man (that may or may not be Seaburn) complain about his period cramps being particularly bad on the left side (which the other girls find to be a little strange) is fucking hilarious.

Time to introduce the stereotypical Italian gym bro, Joey. He speaks in shouts. And, to no one’s surprise, he’s a flirt. Two of his most frequent flirting partners, Sammie and Miranda, decide to have a friendly competition: whoever gets Joey to send them a pervy emoji first in The Circle’s version of direct messaging, wins.
Sammie falls flat. Nothing. Miranda’s attempt is better. In an emoji rampage of sorts, Joey sends a string of images ending with the red hot chili pepper emoji: 🌶️

This makes Miranda curious and ask, “Is it like a small chili, not like an eggplant?” Trying to bait Joey, Miranda sends “🍆 .” “What’s that other chili pepper?” asks Joey, sincerely. In response he sends, “😘😉,”  and then, to spice up the message, “a nice, strong purple guy!” (which is actually just the eggplant, 🍆) With that, the winner is determined.

Having just finished its first American season (there are two British seasons available online if one knows where to look), The Circle has already conquered the key to making good reality TV: unforgettable moments. It has a perfect mixture of hilarious and surprisingly meaningful moments. What boosts the gimmicks further is the show’s superb casting. Who wouldn’t want to see interesting people play an interesting game?

Watch The Circle. Then tell someone else to watch The Circle. It’s comedic gold with moments that leave the show feeling like a fuller, better meal than the junk food reality TV could ever be.

Article Thumbnail is licensed under Wikimedia Commons.