More of the same, but fans of the show will gobble up the outsized personas in this entertaining spin-off version.
The Circle: Brazil (Netflix) is, let’s get this straight, a Brazilian spin-off from an American remake of a British reality-TV show; I reviewed the remake, which was released very early this year, and declared it “a fascinating social experiment.” I still think that, and perhaps even more so now. It’s a claustrophobic and vaguely dystopian spin on a played-out format that feels, especially in this version, to have learned some lessons and become even more of a guilty-pleasure entertainment that at least boasts some genuinely intriguing ideas and personalities.
Shot in the same apartment building as previous versions, The Circle: Brazil stocks it with the same kind of archetypes, only more outlandish versions. The show’s most interesting concept, which is that upon entering the contestants can choose whether to set up an online profile as themselves or a catfish, remains here; two of the players, Rob and Paloma, are presenting as alter-egos. The various personalities all slot pretty neatly into broad roles and the usual process of making first impressions and tentative alliances ensues, and at some point during this process you start to realize that this gang is more interesting that their American counterparts. It’s a subtle thing, and the format of the show remains largely unchanged aside from a few tweaks, but that greater feeling of confidence, both in the idea itself and the personalities who are abiding by its odd rules, help to make this spin-off not only worthwhile but arguably superior to its predecessor.
Subtitles and a spate of cultural references might be off-putting to an international crowd, but it’s likely that the close adherence to what has always worked about The Circle will make such things minor obstacles to those eager for a reason to log back on. The Circle: Brazil gives them a few compelling ones.
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