Shubham from Netflix’s ‘The Circle’ says he thought he’d ‘be blocked on night one’

Shubham on Netflix's 'The Circle.'. Netflix

SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you’ve watched the Season 1 finale of The Circle.

Netflix’s The Circle brings together a group of strangers into individual apartments where they are physically isolated from the real world.

In The Circle, you never know who you’re dealing with as contestants bond and backstab, flirt and fight, without ever meeting in person, only through a unique voice-operated social media platform called The Circle.

Everyone’s competing to gain influence and avoid getting sent home, a.k.a “blocked,” from The Circle. Players try to figure out who’s for real and who’s a catfish, with US$100,000 on the line.

Global News spoke to Shubham (Shooby) Goel about his time on The Circle, if he is still friends with Joey and Rebecca, a.k.a Seaburn, and much more.

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Global News: Congratulations on coming in second place! When you began your journey in The Circle did you ever think you’d make it that far?
Shubham: Thank you, I really appreciate it. I didn’t think I’d make it that far but it’s interesting. In the beginning, you’re really trying to hype yourself up and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna do so well.’ As soon as I got a game, I had this feeling I was going to be blocked on night one. It’s really, really shocking that I made it that far.

How was your experience being isolated from the real world in an apartment all by yourself? What did you do in there?
I actually had the best time of my life. I thought it was so fun and it was cool being isolated because you just you have to focus on the game and your relationships with these people. I was able to focus on my hobbies, also. I liked to play a lot of ping pong. It was just a really basic vacation and I enjoyed it so much.

It’s safe to say when you began this journey you despised social media. What are your feelings towards it now?
Yeah, I definitely have gone through some growth with that. In the beginning, I was really against it and I still am, in a way. I still see that it is very addicting. I’ve noticed that I’m just refreshing it all the time. I also still think it is dangerous to the mental health, but I have warmed up to it. I definitely do see the positive side of it where you can reach out to more people than ever before and spread these messages. You can work with charities and you can use it for work. I have opened up a lot to more of the pros to it, but I’m still pretty wary about the negative side of it.

I think it was really important to have you on this show and showcase someone who doesn’t like social media because it showed a different side. You had a conversation with Sammie about fitting in and she opened up to you about how she works with children with autism. It was such a moving conversation. I almost cried while I was watching that moment. Do you think that conversation brought you and Sammie closer together?
Oh, 100 per cent. If you look at the beginning of the rankings, Sammie was at the top and I was at the bottom. I knew the only way I could connect with someone would be if I really opened up and went from straight inside. I think that with Sammie I saw that she kept getting attacked for being a catfish. I felt like, ‘Oh, you know what? She’s feeling like an outsider, just like I am.’ I think that conversation we had was just so pure. That’s how we began our bond from beginning to the end. I think that was just a real conversation from both sides.

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It was honestly really nice to watch. It was also nice to see you becoming an influencer four times. Did you think that would happen so many times? 
No, I really didn’t. I thought, statistically speaking, you’d become an influencer once but I never thought it would be four times. If you look at it from a game perspective, you’d think it would put a huge target on me, and I thought people would just hate me.

You hated sending people home but would you have rather been on the other end waiting for the influencer to make the decision of who to block?
For sure, 100 per cent! I think I really would have. I think it’s nice to have done it once or twice just to get that experience and going into the hangout because I think it’s nice to see all the different aspects of the experience. But I would much rather have been on the receiving end.

How long did it feel like waiting for the alert to pop up on screen and show the rest of the members of The Circle who had been blocked?
Oh man, it felt like simultaneously 10 years of being in this limbo. It was the worst feeling, especially that anonymous influencer. That was the first time I wasn’t an influencer and someone can walk into your apartment to block you. At that moment I thought I was the biggest target and I was going home. It’s like the toughest thing you can go through.

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You built such a strong relationship with Rebecca and considered her as your sister. How do you feel now that you know it was really Seaburn behind the screen? 
It’s so funny because I called myself Sharky Shubham because I was going to hunt out the catfishes but I was so wrong about so much. Me and Seaburn both bonded over things like Marvel and sword fighting. It was a very protective bond. When I saw him in the reveal and then at the end and then after, he’s just such a nice guy. I can see he’s coming from a genuine spot so for me it didn’t even matter if he was a guy, girl, or whatever age. For me, it was just about what we were saying being true to the course. I didn’t care. I had no hard feelings. He’s someone I consider a best friend for life. It was shocking for me and an out of body experience.

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It was so funny to watch it all unfold! You played the game being very true to yourself. How did you feel about Mercedeze, Adam and Sean being catfishes? Do you have any thoughts on their strategies?
That’s the thing I really reflected on most. We all had different things we were trying to prove and we’re all from different walks of life, which is why I think this game is so important. When you have people like Sean, Mercedeze or Adam, they’re on their own journey. What they were trying to prove, it’s very admirable. I think we were all trying to prove the same thing, just different sides of the coin. I tip my hat off to them. It’s so much tougher to be a catfish, I think, from a competitive side.

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Since the group voted you as most likely to be president, who would you choose as your vice president? 
Wow, that’s actually a really good question. I would love Joey because he was my best friend but you know what… I’m going to have to go with Chris. What I admired about Chris is how he could connect with everyone so authentically and he could bring different groups of people together. I think a lot of those areas are very important to have. I think Chris would be wonderful as a vice president or even a president.

Your relationship with Joey was so sweet and genuine to watch. Will you two remain best friends outside of The Circle
Oh, yeah, 100 per cent. I was so happy he won and I have nothing but love for him. What translated from The Circle will translate in real life.

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What did you learn about yourself during this whole experience?
I learned most about myself and the world is that it is very complicated. The world is very complicated. There is no black or white. There’s always nuances. With social media, I said it was so bad and it is but there is some good to it. There’s always people coming from different sides of the facets. Everyone has something they’re trying to do so I think I learned that more than anything. The world is very complicated so when we decipher information and judge, it should be complicated also.

(This interview has been edited and condensed.)

The Circle is now streaming on Netflix.

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