11 Questions About The Show (& Some Answers)

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After plowing through all the addictive seasons and episodes of Netflix’s reality series The Circle, fans have so many questions about how the whole filming process works. Even though the players reside in apartments in the same building, they never meet in person or hear each other’s voices, only communicating through a voice-activated instant messaging system called Circle and sharing status updates and photos via a profile — which doesn’t have to be accurate to the real them. Fans of the series are probably wondering about a few different things, even five seasons in, and how it all works.

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It’s tough to believe that in just over three short years, The Circle has already completed five seasons, with two more planned for 2023. Fans continue to eat up the episodes that are continuously addictive as they watch players strategize and chat with others, not knowing if they really are who they say they are. Every season has its own interesting twists, including season 4 having Spice Girls Melanie Brown (“Scary Spice”) and Emma Bunton (“Baby Spice”) catfishing as a young, male children’s author. Indeed, each season is spicier than the last and poses new questions about how the show really works.


How Do They Not Hear One Another?

The exterior of The Circle apartment complex

In the series, the players are each in a separate apartment in the same building. Based on the exterior shot showing a circle of lights around the apartments, they are located next to one another. If this is the case, how do the players not hear one another?

In reality, the apartments are soundproofed, according to TheThings.com, and there is one vacant apartment in between each person to prevent them from hearing one another’s screams, shrieks, gasps, and voices. This is essential for players who were male and playing as female and vice versa and allowed for some of the best catfishes on The Circle.

How Do They Handle Being Completely Isolated?

Joey screaming in The Circle

Players have plenty of things to keep them busy, including a full kitchen, gym, and outdoor hot tub, books, paper, playing cards (Solitaire, anyone?), and more. And, of course, they can chat online with other players but there’s still a fair bit of boredom.

Players reportedly have some interaction with producers, according to RadioTimes, to avoid feeling isolated and have access to an on-site therapist whenever they feel stressed or need someone to talk to. They are also escorted by someone whenever they leave the apartment, which is typically only to smoke or head up to the hot tub.

Why Do They Get All Dolled Up For “Dates?”

James from season three of the circle.

The answer to this question is probably obvious: because these people are being filmed 24/7, getting all dressed up makes them feel good. Even if a date won’t ever see the player in person, millions of people watching the show will. Plus, if the person is blocked, they have the opportunity to visit another player in person, which means everyone always wants to look their best in case they fall into such a scenario.

While the players are also seen in pajamas right after waking up with no make-up on, it’s amusing to watch the players pick their favorite outfits, do their hair, and cake on make-up for a virtual date or party. This behavior may also be encouraged by producers to help add some visual variety and set the scene.

RELATED: Everything To Know About The Circle Host Michelle Buteau

Do They Get Any Sun?

Sean in the hot tub in The Circle

Several scenes show players enjoying a rooftop hot tub where they can visit for some sun and avoid cabin fever. But there are staff members who make sure only one player is ever there in any place, including the hot tub or the gym, at a time, according to Decider. Any time a player leaves the apartment, they are accompanied by someone on staff. Even players who didn’t use the hot tub still went up the rooftop for fresh air every now and then, according to Buzzfeed, since players are not permitted to go onto the balconies of the apartments.

Can They Chat Whenever They Want To?

Ruksana from The Circle season 3, sitting on the couch looking shocked.

While players can pretty much chat as they please, both in direct messages and groups, the chat is turned off at certain times. It is unavailable overnight, for example, so the players can get a good night’s sleep without being interrupted. Unlike reality series like Big Brother where people can physically wake you up at any time to talk game, chatting is more regulated here.

Players can, of course, say whatever they want, which becomes entertaining with the funniest cast members on The Circle. But there is no need to have clandestine chats in the middle of the night since those could happen during waking hours via DMs without worry over another player listening: they can’t listen in to a private chat unless they are invited.

Where Is The Circle Building?

Apartment building with neon pink and blue circle, set of Netflix's The Circle.

The iconic The Circle building does exist, and is a hotel in Salford, England, where the show originates from. International versions of The Circle, including the American one, use the same building but use establishing shots of cities from the country the show is aimed at. The eponymous circle is made of aluminum with LED lights running through and around it, and measures 25 meters in diameter. It is actually lit up while the game is going on. The hotel is located across from a “control room” in a former college campus which helps to run the game, with 20-30 producers on hand at any given time for The Circle behind the scenes.

What Do They Do All Day?

Khat Bell sits on couch in The Circle Season 2

We see the contestants play endless games of Solitaire, dance around, work out, cook, draw, do puzzles, write in journals, and, of course, chat with one another. But there are many waking hours in a day. How do players fill these in essentially solitary confinement?

A quiet day of reflection with oneself is great, and producers have said that players enjoyed the solitude. As noted, players do occasionally talk with producers behind the scene on The Circle, and therapists if needed, and can go to the gym or hot tub if they get antsy and need a change of scenery.

How Long Does Filming Typically Take Place?

James at the finale of The Circle season 3, chatting with his girlfriend from a tablet.

Filming takes place each season in Salford over a three-week period, with the finale being filmed a day after the last episode was filmed. Filming took place in August 2019 for season 1, for example, in the same building where filming took place for the U.K. version for its second season. While it hasn’t been confirmed, according to Distractify, filming for season 4 likely occurred in August 2021.

Who Are the People In The Fake Profiles?

Alex from The Circle smiling, wearing blue overalls.

Several people who have played as catfishes have used images of unknown individuals in their profiles to pretend to be those people, like Alex who used the photo of a handsome blonde man he called Adam. The profile pictures Karyn used of Mercedeze were sourced by producers, with permission from the real person. However, others, particularly in more recent seasons, have played as people they actually know. DeLeesa, for example, winner of season 2, played as her husband Trevor. Parker from season 4, meanwhile, played as her father Paul.

Most often, players are choosing to take on the persona of someone else they know because they believe they will be more approachable and liked as that person who might be younger, more conventionally attractive, or simply of a different gender. Courtney and Lee, for example, might not have become one of the best bromances on The Circle had Courtney known that Lee was an older man and not the 20-something-year-old River he was playing as.

Why Was Ed Able To Enter With His Mom?

Ed and his mom in The Circle

Since season 1, several players have come into the house playing as a team or were put together as a team after being blocked. Most recently, Melanie Brown and Emma Bunton from The Spice Girls came in to play together, catfishing as a young man named Jared who writes children’s books. Nonetheless, when Ed played with his 50-something-year-old mom, it was the first time The Circle showcased a pair instead of a single person. There was no stated reason for the change, but it was likely designed to add a new wrinkle to the concept of catfishing, showing that contestants couldn’t even be sure how many people they were talking to.

Is The Circle An Actual App?

The players profiles in The Circle season 2

The Circle promotes itself as taking place entirely over a custom social media platform, which raises the question of whether, behind the scenes, The Circle‘s app actually exists. The answer is yes, with a big asterisk. In an interview with Vulture, producer Tim Harcourt explains that the show did actually build a chat platform similar to WhatsApp, but it isn’t voice-activated as presented on TV. With voice recognition technology still being unreliable, the show has producers manually transcribe the player’s messages and sends them to each other. The result makes for better television than having the players typing on keyboards all the time.

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