How Netflix is Changing Reality TV

I’m sure most college kids have heard of “The Circle” by now; it’s one of Netflix’s most popular shows. The premise, according to the show, is that contestants answer the question, “How far would you go to be popular on social media if $100,000 was at stake?” through their moves in the game. And that’s the main idea of this show — the contestants communicate solely over social media through their TVs and screens throughout their one-bedroom apartments.

The concept of a reality show that features contestants who never meet in person was something that shocked Netflix subscribers across the U.S. But, since the show’s release, it has gained quite the following. People are hooked on the idea that the people on the show can virtually be whoever they want, so long as they can convince their competitors well enough to keep from getting blocked or kicked off the show.

Reality shows have been more of a recent trend in past decades, with shows like “Jersey Shore,” “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “The Bachelor,” and, more recently, “Love Island.” Shows like these prove that there is a booming market for shows about what audiences see as the normal lives of normal people. The basis of all of these shows is the relationships between the cast members, and obviously all of the drama that ensues. But, with “The Circle,” viewers don’t get the satisfaction of watching the in-person dramatics. Instead, viewers watch as the cast of “The Circle” carefully plan their words over a messaging app in order to win the big prize. For those who haven’t seen it, I promise it’s much more interesting than it sounds. You get hooked by the end of the first episode.

Another Netflix original that dropped more recently is a similar, yet completely unique reality show called “Love is Blind.” In this show, contestants come on in hopes of finding a life partner. The catch is, they aren’t allowed to see each other until they are engaged. Only after the guy drops to one knee can the two meet in the flesh. Then, by the end of the month, they can choose to get married.

This more severe and consequential “experiment,” as the show calls it, turned quite a few more heads. The premise of getting engaged to someone before seeing them seems almost impossible, but the contestants on “Love is Blind” surprise viewers from the first episode.

The two shows are focused on a double-blind premise and reform what the world knows as reality TV. They adapted the typical script of a reality-based production and turned it into something similar to how the internet and mobile technology affect our daily lives. The world now interacts through screens, and that’s exactly what Netflix is channeling with these two shows; they take what a large part of their audience does on a daily basis and turn it into a game.

Netflix has breathed new life into the reality TV genre. Yes, millions of Americans still watch “The Bachelor,” but the proposals in “Love is Blind” definitely made me more emotional than any rose ceremony ever could.