The Circle is a new social media reality show, launched in the week that Channel 5 has finally confirmed what viewers have known for years. Big Brother, once the undisputed king of reality shows, is dead as a dodo. It’s strange times indeed in telly land. The Circle was trailed heavily on Channel 4 for weeks, with each advert being a full instruction manual for the show, not really helping the initial audience reaction that it was overly complicated. Then before and after every ad break the presenters Alice Levine (My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast, coming to HBO in 2019) and Maya Jama (dunno, off some youth radio show at a guess) took the opportunity to again explain the rules in painful detail. We get it – you’re expecting the audience to be on the thicker end of the education spectrum.
So this is the start of three weeks of Alice and Maya talking about a bunch of people talking to themselves in their pokey little flats, sorry apartments, with an all-knowing Alexa console for company unless they’ve had the foresight to bring their own baby or turtle for company. The twist on the classic Big Brother format is that they don’t ever meet face-to-face. All contact is conducted via a specially-designed social media platform – the eponymous Circle. The total number of contestants vying for the £50,000 prize is eight which is surely more than enough. But apparently people who get evicted get replaced! Dear God – is this Black Mirror? Is three weeks actually eternity? Will it ever end?
So down to the fundamentals – how do you get people to like you? Are you true to yourself, as every Insta bio assure us is the way, the truth and the light, or are you more controlling of the image you portray to the world. Do you edit out your bad bits and concentrate on your good bits, both in your personality and your physicality or is it slightly repulsive to be so obviously manipulative? Is all this false advertising even ethical? Some of these contestants have said fuck ethics and they’re halfway to scamming retirees out of their pension as a sketchy African prince.
Are you single? Looking for love? Fed up with Tinder, Grindr and Rinder? (Not sure if all those are real. I was married before they were invented.) Do you trust in science and believe in romance? Ready to expose your awkward self on Channel 4? Then have we got a reality show for you…
Married at First Sight has a devilishly simple premise – couples, selected on scientific principles, get hitched in a real-life proper legal ceremony at their very first meeting. Your body measurements and ratios, facial symmetry and genetics picked over by scientists may not sound very romantic, but these brave young people are ready and willing to give it a shot.
Clark and Melissa are the first couple we meet in Series 2, both charming beautiful and sweet. But as we know from Series 1, they could both easily turn out to be dicks (Jason was on Tinder almost as soon as he and Kate were back from honeymoon. He disputes the timings). And, tellingly perhaps, none of the couples from Series 1 are still together.
Welcome to your weekly round-up of telly news. Due to an important occasion coming soon to this very blog (stay tuned blog fans!) I’ve decided that I need to help you, dear readers, be better informed about topics in telly, not just reviews but hot-off-the-press news to enrich your telly watching. The great, the grizzly and the down-right dodgy, for you to digest in your cosy couch cocoon.
This week – The Olympics, Snoop Dogg, and the Guardian’s pick of summer tv shows…
When in doubt have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand. This could get to be pretty silly but somehow it didn’t seem to matter.
– Raymond Chandler
Murder in Successville‘s detective is a perfect comedy parody of Raymond Chandler’s archetype hard-boiled gumshoe Philip Marlow. Only DI Sleet has no discernible skills apart from escalating a situation out of all control and leaving his sidekick to mop up the mess.
Sleet, played by Tom Davis is a big presence on-screen – I mean, really big. Like an amiable bear in a trench coat, snarling and snapping in his raspy voice, ground down by the celeb-on-celeb crime in Successville, lonely and hard-drinking. But it’s not all noir in this improv-comedy-parody-celebity-gameshow. Set him up with the right partner and he’s cheeky, witty and very fuckable if you like that sort of thing (I do).
As you can tell this is a show that defies convention. How it got commissioned I’ve no idea. But I’m very glad it did.
Guest blogger Modulor Dave; in defence of Channel 4 reality TV. Very grrr. All the turkey. Much win.
Last night at 9pm unlike the other 64.099 million humans in the UK, I switched over from the red button snooker to catch up with the scantily clad starvation antics of the inhabitants of Bear Grylls’ The Island (Mondays 9pm Channel 4)
I know… I can almost hear you screaming in the comment section… “WHAT ABOUT GAME OF THRONES???” Well, I will catch up with that, at my own pace. I won’t be rushed. There are others who I’m sure pay closer attention to the horrors and intrigue of Westeros, and they will write about it with great humour and verve. But for me, I’m wrapped up in the human horror-drama on Isla Gibraleón (a suitably Westerosian name!) in the Pacific ocean.