Warning: This article contains spoilers about the first four episodes of Netflix’s The Circle.
Successfully sliding into the DMs is an art. Your approach is the difference between a follow back or being left on “Read.” Eight contestants on the new Netflix show The Circle are in a fight to be the master in that very social-media meet-cute. Through the first batch of episodes, one contestant has won over not only her fellow contestants but viewers as well: Sammie.
The Circle is simple: Imagine a world where Twitter was only you and seven other people. You can never see the others in real life. The goal: create a profile, win daily challenges, and enchant (often, manipulate) others for the right to be named the most popular of the group. If you’re the No.1 “Influencer” by the end, you’ll win $100,000. The contestants include a Jersey Shore-light hunk in Joey and a ping-pong playing wallflower in Shubham. Oh, and there are catfishes lurking, too.
Sammie, 25, is open about her work with people on the autism spectrum. She’s undeniably attractive, as many of the contestants point out, but unlike another contestant Alana, few in the game suspect of her of being a catfish. Even though social media influencers have become known to thrive on Insta pics on the beach or at the gym, people in this game (and in internet culture as a whole) have become trained to see the image-obsessed as either a two-dimensional opportunist or a catfish waiting for you to fall into their spell.
Sammie has none of these warning signs yet, and it has a lot to do with how she uses the power of the DM. Below are five of Sammie’s finest work that have led her to be the heir apparent, “Sammie Sweetheart”.
1. When Seaburn (playing his real-life girlfriend Rebecca) asked Sammie if she thinks Chris is cute. Sammie’s DM: “Baby girl, he’s gay LMAO”
In the very first episode, the contestants begin to split off into group chats. Professional model Alana makes one called “Skinny Queens,” including all of the profiles that identify as women, and puts catfish Rebecca to the test. To no one’s surprise, Seaburn was already caught slipping. Seaburn’s strategy is for Rebecca to be shy, even a bit coy, so when she questions Sammie in the group chat about Chris, it throws every other group chat member for a loop. Chris, as Karyn. (a.k.a catfish Mercedeze) puts it, is “Macy’s-window-on-Christmas gay.” Not only was there little value to asking Sammie that question to get an advantage in the game, but this comes back to bite him immediately. Later in episode 2, when Alana meets Sammie, they discuss this very slip-up. Sammie handed Seaburn the skates on the thin ice he’s playing on.
Another note: Sammie hated the name of the group chat. She openly talks about how there could have been someone in the Circle that wasn’t really what society deems as “skinny.” Sammie scores points with the audience for quickly deconstructing the superficial, even potentially hurtful, label.
2. After her Influencer decision to block Alana. Sammie’s DM: “Woke this morning with a stomach ache, not sure if it’s from last night’s decision or the food I ate :(“
Sammie and Antonio were crowned Influencers in episode 1. The next day and in the next episode, other cast members call out Antonio for not bringing up the elimination at all. But, Sammie had the peace of mind to humanize herself. The DM showed how humble she was, with even a touch of shame. Others quickly empathize with her. Sammie is seen as a player who isn’t there to put down others since she positioned the elimination as just “part of the game,” in a moment when others could have perceived the decision as vindictive.
3. After being asked by Chris if Alana went to go see her. Sammie’s DM: “I almost died when she walked in” … “She was mad”
The episode 1 cliffhanger left viewers wondering who the first eliminated contestant Alana chose to meet on her way out. Sammie was put in the hot seat when Alana came walking into her apartment. But Sammie handled it gracefully. Alana’s exit video to the Circle did little to pin Sammie as a villain when she could have. Antonio’s exit video, on the other hand, after visiting with catfish Mercedeze (Karyn) later in the season left Karyn scrambling to get people off the scent that she isn’t who she says she is.
The way Sammie handled herself post-visit, being candid about how uncomfortable she was, didn’t draw anyone’s attention. She didn’t overthink it. Sammie shot from the gut and it paid off, big. Chris is now on her side, and soon others will be too.
4. When Sammie gets confronted by catfish Mercedeze about why she eliminated Alana. Sammie’s DM: “But what would give you the idea that you would even be on my mind?”
Mercedeze had been building a bit of a flirtatious alliance with Antonio. Earlier in the day, Antonio had DM’d Mercedeze basically putting it out there that he saved her, and Sammie was the one gunning for her to be eliminated. Things got heated when catfish Rebecca brought both Sammie and Mercedeze into a group chat to talk about the recent elimination. Sammie rightly asks why Mercedeze is pinning her as the bad guy, not Antonio.
In an absolute desperation move, Mercedeze wrote: “Simply because I’m used to females being catty. Antonio isn’t even a factor. Period.” This came out absolutely flat. Kathryn resorts to a female stereotype for her reasoning and completely disregards Antonio when there is no reason why he couldn’t have been the person. For episodes 3 and 4, Mercedeze is on her heels, and this exchange where Sammie called her out was the catalyst.
Shubham being befriended by Sammie at the end of episode 3. Sammie’s DM: “Just know at any point in time, you’re welcome to come private chat with me. And don’t worry so much about fitting in. All the cool kids stand out <3.”
This exchange took place after the second round of ratings at the end of episode 3. Shubham felt bad about not voting Sammie higher. Sammie had gotten second to last in the latest round of ratings, but she wasn’t sour about it. She noticed how Shubham said in his DM that he didn’t feel like he fit in because he never has anything witty to say. Sammie then opens up about her work with people on the autism spectrum and how she understands the feeling of being left out. This DM did two-fold: Not only did it put Sammie in the good grace of an Influencer, but it also displayed a value she has in her personal life that a catfish is likely not to think about doing. Catfish Rebecca and catfish Mercedeze have so far focused on appearances, assumptions about other people’s strategies, and sneaky alliances, while forgetting what it really takes to win: authenticity.
The first four episodes of The Circle are currently available to stream on Netflix; four more will premiere Wednesday, Jan. 8, followed by the final four on Wednesday, Jan. 15.