'The Circle': How Shubham's Reality Television Knowledge and Honesty Kept Him Atop the Rankings (Exclusive)

The Circle has been all the talk on social media as the Netflix series takes a fresh look at reality television by adding a new-age twist to the competition. In this show, there is no face-to-face interaction, but rather all of the communication is done through social media and apps.

For one of its competitors, Shubham Goel, this proved to be a challenge he was willing to take. The California native entered the show having a hatred of the digital world and all of the toxicity it can create. It turns out that he was quick to learn of all its power, mastering it in a blink of an eye en route to finishing as runner-up on The Circle.

"I thought it would just be a lot easier to be myself," Shubham told PopCulture.com. "I kind of wanted to show that by being yourself, you can still build these bonds with people. That was the real formula."

Shubham came out of the gates to find himself on the bottom of the totem pole when it came time for each individual to submit their player rankings. That quickly changed once the others began to get a real feel for who he was and what he was all about.

His honesty helped win over the majority of the cast, leaving him atop the rankings in the next episodes only to be among the top two influencers for the next four rounds. It was the longest stretch of the season for anyone to hold the power.

Shubham admitted that with the continued power, he did begin to feel a little nervous that the others may begin to view him as a threat.

"It felt like from beginning to end I was the biggest target because I kept winning these influencers," he said. "I'm thinking, 'Should I try and be annoying' but then I thought let me just stick to the gameplan and maybe they'll see I'm protecting them until the end."

One of the youngest on the show, Shubham was a part of a final five -- the originals -- that all viewed each other in a positive light and respected one another. He struck a real-life friendship with eventual winner Joey Sasso, and Rebecca, who proved to be a catfish of the opposite gender but someone he connected with on a real level either way.

If Shubham's gameplan looks familiar, it's because he says he grew up a fan of both Survivor and Big Brother. Since the season landed on Netflix, former castmates have taken time to reach out to him and comfirm that his style reflected the hit reality shows.

He wanted to form alliances, and was one of the few on the show who took initiative in doing so. This was a move that ended up keeping Rebecca safe as many in The Circle, including super influencer for that week Joey, began to grow suspicious of the actual catfish. Joey kept her safe solely because of Subham and his alliance.

"[Survivor and Big Brother] definitely led the road map to my thought process in a lot of the game I played," explained Subbham, who added that his biggest takeaways were forming alliances on day one and always being aware of who is the target.

With so many strong bonds that he says have carried into the real world -- the cast all interact to this day in an Instagram chat -- he notes that he wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

If you would have told him five years ago he'd be a reality star, he says he'd have told you "that would be absolutely bonkers."

"It was a hell of a ride, man," he went on. "One of the best experiences of my life. More than anything, I learned to just take a step back and look at the whole piece.


"I came into the game thinking [social media] was a bad entity, but now I really do see the positives. I learned that you can build these good connections on social media…so I see the positives now, but of course I still see the negatives with the addiction and harming the mental health. I see both sides now."

The Circle's first season can be streamed on Netflix.