I really, really didn’t want to watch Netflix’s new social media reality show, The Circle.
I didn’t have the time or the interest, which is obviously a complete lie because it’s winter in New York City and every single one of my Mondays are reserved for The Bachelor.
I do, however, have an unhealthy need to be in-the-know of all things pop culture. It’s the only explanation I have for finally giving in and watching one episode of The Circle and then another. And another. And another, until it was suddenly 4 a.m and I’d watched 10 episodes in a row.
It was all I could think about at work the next day, barely catching myself in time before I said, “Hey Circle, send a private message to my mom,” out loud.
To be clear, Netflix’s The Circle is completely devoid of Jewishness — which means if I wanted to write about it for Alma, I truly had no choice but to make it Jewish. So, I summoned all my summers spent at Jewish sleepaway camp in the Georgia mountains to present to you season two of The Circle: Sleepaway Camp Edition. Because honestly, this show is basically like sleepaway camp, if campers had their own individual cabins and only interacted via a fake voice-activated app. Let’s begin!
Helllllo everyone, welcome to The Circle: Sleepaway Camp Edition, the real-life game that asks, “How far would you go to be popular on social media and win 100,000 extra Nalgenes?”
In case you’ve never seen The Circle, here’s how it works: Our eight players, or campers, will all live in their own cabins, and they won’t be able to hear or see each other. The only way they get to know each other is through a voice-activated platform called the Circle. The players can choose to be whoever they want: themselves, another version of themselves, or someone completely different — it’s all up to them.
When in the Circle, players must make friends and be influential, because the least popular players will be blocked by the most popular players, or the “Influencers.” But this is the Jewish Summer Camp Edition, so we’re absolutely going to call them “Color War Captains.”
There will be twists. There will be drama. There will also be mosquitos, sunburn, and a whole lot of sweat.
It’s time to get started, so let’s meet the players who have arrived in their cabins with their body-bag sized duffles in tow.
The Camp Hot Girl
First to arrive is the Camp Hot Girl, who’s probably named Dana. Scratch that — she’s definitely named Dana. Wearing a signature Sugarlips tank top and Sofee shorts combo, she opens the door to her bunk and immediately squeals, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m here!”
She’s blessed enough to live in the hot girl cabin, which, you know exactly the one I’m talking about. She’s going to pretend she’s too cool for The Circle camp, but she’ll keep coming back every year because she secretly loves it. When she’s settled in and all her Tiger Beat posters are up on the wall, she starts getting to know the Circle.
“Hey Circle! Open up my profile.”
She’s tasked with selecting a profile photo, crafting a biography, and setting a relationship status. She first sifts through her “Apple Store Photoshoot” album, but forgoes it in favor of her “summerrrrr ☀” album.
“Ooh, that one in the top left, where I’m in my neon pink pencil skirt and American Eagle black sandals.”
You know this exact look. She’s going to wear it if she makes it to the finale Shabbat dinner.
Her relationship status? “Single, but definitely open to kissing someone after song session!” With a winky emoji, of course.
Her bio? “I’m from Miami, I love my sistasss, and I know how to get crazzyyy!!!”
The Camp Legacy
Second to arrive is the Camp Legacy, whose first message to the Circle group chat will be, “Hey Circle, new message: Hi everyone! My parents went to this camp too, this is where they met! So I’m famous around here. Anyway, we’re gonna have so much fun, I can’t wait! Send.”
They won’t let you forget this all summer.
Everyone either loves or hates this player, probably because they’re a genuinely happy person whose parents aren’t divorced. The Legacy has so much camp spirit, or ruach, and will go all-out during song sessions. The Legacy’s love of camp is admirable; they’ll lift the spirit of everyone in the group chat before ranking results come out. They’ll excel at the “Lanyard Making Challenge,” will probably be a Color War Captain at some point, and in 10 years, they’ll be working in Jewish professional life.
Their profile picture? Either one from a B’mitzvah photoshoot album or “Youth group!” Their bio begins with their camp zip code, followed by: “my home and my heart <3!!!!” Their relationship status? “Long-distance with my NFTY/BBYO bf!!!!”
The Counselor’s BFF
You’ll know immediately who this person is. They walk into the cabin wearing workout shorts and a cool graphic tee, because they’re casual like that. They’ll make friends in The Circle, but will be blocked early on for not building strong enough relationships with the players, instead favoring the staff. Who aren’t even playing.
Their whole vibe is cool and mature; they’re funny, and they tend to be know-it-alls. They’ll be the favorite of the respective gendered staffs — which was weird then and is still weird now. Hobbies include: sitting on the counselor’s bed, talking about where they want to go to college, and how chill their parents are compared to everyone else.
Their profile picture is them with their older sibling, which of course they have. Their bio? “Love to laugh and have a great time!”
Their first message is, “Circle, new message: Dudes!!! I can’t wait for this summer! Send.”
The Toxic Masculinity Boy
We all know this player. His introductory montage will feature him saying, “If I see a pretty girl on here, I’m definitely asking her to sneak off during canteen.”
He is exceptional at sports such as ultimate frisbee or basketball, which he’ll always play shirtless on the main athletic field. During the portrait challenge, he won’t paint another Circle camper, but rather something crude to make people laugh. He’s got his squad of bros, but he’s the king. He’ll only open private chats with The Camp Hot Girl, The Legacy, or the The Kid Whose Entire Personality is Their Camp Nickname— never anyone else.
His profile picture? He’s crossing his arms in a white polo, or holding his arms out wide at a bar mitzvah. He could also be in a basketball jersey. Could go either way.
His bio? “Ball is life.” That’s it. Because he can’t express any other emotions at this age.
His first message in the group chat will be something like, “Wadduuuuupp!” But his first message to The Camp Hot Girl? That’ll be special.
“Hey Circle, open private message with Camp Hot Girl: What’s up? You got hotter since last year. Maybe we can go out. Prayer hands emoji. Send message.”
Oh, and at some point, he’ll say the r-word in the Circle group chat, which the Kid Who Lives In the Art Room will definitely chastise. But The Toxic Masculinity Boy will only mock her and put her last during the next ranking session.
Oh, Toxic Masculinity Boy. You have so much to learn.
THE CATFISH AKA THE GEFILTE FISH: The Kid Whose Entire Personality is Their Camp Nickname
Yay, our first gefilte fish! Honestly, I feel for this player because they will always be known by their weird nickname. You still don’t know how they got it, but it feels weird to call them anything else. Even when they’re in their 20s and just want to be called David, they’ll still be called “Squid,” “Cheese,” or something else with a ridiculous backstory they’ll have to tell a million times. But, for The Circle, it’s an advantage. Their profile picture will be a photo of themselves, but with their actual name. It’s genius. No one will know it’s them.
This gefilte fish will definitely be a Color War Captain at some point, and when they’re victorious in the “Camp Trivia Challenge,” instead of a Video Message From Home, they’ll win a Letter From Home. It’ll be from their wholesome parents cheering them on, but the best parts will be the lines about how the dog is doing, the workout class their mom went to, and all the questions that they’ll never answer, like, “How are you getting along with everyone? Are you having fun? How was Shabbat? What activities have you been doing?”
The Girl Who Teaches Everyone About Sex
When this girl walks into her cabin, all she says is, “Sweet,” because she’s cool. Not Camp Hot Girl Cool, but just cool. Her hair might have a colored streak, she definitely has a double ear piercing, and her bunk bed color scheme is purple.
We owe so much to this girl. She has a hard home life in some way, but she will increase your maturity level 10-fold. She will teach you what a blowjob is, what 69ing is, and during the “Mad Lib Challenge” she always has the funniest answers. After a one-on-one conversation with her, you’re a new woman.
Again, she’ll be the life of all the games, including “Never Have I Ever” and “Singing in the Rain Challenge,” and she’ll also be a Color War Captain after confiding in, and forming an alliance with, the Kid Who Lives in the Art Room, The Counselor’s BFF, and in a twist, The Toxic Masculinity Boy.
Her profile picture is a smize selfie in her room, and she’s holding up a peace sign. Her bio is, “I’m the nicest girl you’ll ever meet, until I’m suddenly not!” Smiling purple devil emoji included, obviously.
GEFILTE FISH: Wannabe Cool Kid in the Weird Kid Cabin
Our second gefilte fish has made it through their lice check and is on the way to their cabin. Their personality is a mix of The Legacy and The Kid Who Lives in the Art Room, meaning they’re just your average middle school camp-goer who wants to have a good time, but also fit in.
This kid is a prime gefilte fish candidate because their desires have changed since starting seventh grade. They have a great group of camp friends, but they’re now aware that they’re labeled the “weird” cabin. They wonder what it’s like to be a Camp Hot Girl/Boy/NB and now, on The Circle, they have their chance.
They ask the Circle to open their photos. They find a Picnik’d photo of a girl from their school, one that says “Live Laugh Love” in pink neon letters. Their bio is a quote from some well-known Taylor Swift song circa 2008, followed by a smile emoji. Their relationship status is definitely single, because so is the Camp Hot Girl’s.
The Wannabe Cool Kid will survive the first ranking, making it into spot number three, while Camp Hot Girl will *gasp* be ranked sixth.
“Hey Circle, open up a private message with Camp Hot Girl: Hey girl!!! Just wanted to see if you’re okay after the rankings. I can’t believe someone would ever rank you last!!! Insert heartbreak emoji, hashtag not cool, and send.”
But this is why we love Wanna Be Cool Kid, because she definitely ranked Camp Hot Girl Last. So sly.
The One Who Lives in the Art Room
When this kid walks into their cabin, they’re wearing jean shorts, a tie-dye shirt from the summer before, and Rainbows flip flops. They nod in approval as they walk in, maybe uttering an oh-so-cool “alriggghhht.” This is the cleanest they’ll be all summer, because after day one, their hands will always be covered in paint, dye, or pottery glaze.
They’re almost always found in the art or music room, but they’ll also dabble in an activity like ropes course. This is actually very on-brand, and so is their hatred for sports or swimming. They’re friends with almost all Circle campers, because they can easily fit into any group dynamic. This will get them high rankings, and maybe even a chance to be Color War Captain. However, their lack of patience for fakeness might lead them to call out a possible gefilte fish, which could get them blocked.
Their profile picture is a candid taken on a friend’s iPod touch, and their bio reads, “I’m a tie-dye God, and if the counselors let anyone put on their iPod, it’ll be me.”
Oh, and if they don’t identify already, they’ll absolutely grow up to be proudly LGBTQ+. Shine on, Kid Who Lives In the Art Room.
And, with that:
LET THE COLOR WAR BEGIN.
Header image courtesy of Netflix.