‘Hard Edit’ – “The Genius,” Season 2: Doohee’s Story

Sangmin (상민) Oppa (오빠) and Hongchul (홍철) Oppa swore revenge on Doohee (두희), since Episode 2, when Doohee betrayed their alliance, in the Wang (King) Game. They let Jiwon (지원) and Yuyoon (유영) take hold of and hold on to Doohee’s ID plate token (sinbunjeung). I find it hard to believe that Jiwon and Yuyoon didn’t know that Doohee’s ID tag wasn’t the hidden immunity item – taken out of the safe, behind the James Dean Blvd. sign.

The hunt for the hidden immunity item was so all-consuming and the hidden immunity item was so overpowered – spring-boarding Yohwan into the Semifinals, and then Finals – that The Genius never used such an in-game mechanism ever again.

Sangmin Oppa was on the periphery of the Season 2 majority alliance (that’s why he was working with Jiwon, Yohwan (요환) and Yunseon (윤선) Eonni (언니), during the Blackout episode). The hidden immunity item was his only path to the win.

The Episode 6 Main Match was completely obscured by the desperate hunt for the hidden immunity item. Production probably didn’t like that, even if it made for an exciting edit, at the time. Jinho (진호) Oppa was always in the majority alliance. He was the one to beat, just like in Season 1. But the hidden immunity item gave that win to Sangmin Oppa.

Jeonghyun-ssi (정현-씨) led the charge, for justice for Doohee, but he was only one person, with limited social capital, in the young people’s game, himself. Earlier, in the season, Jeonghyun-ssi gave Sangmin Oppa the part of his die, with six pips on it, without even thinking about how valuable it was, or could be. Sangmin Oppa went on to win the die roll Main Match, of Episode 7.

It’s like when Esau sold his birthright, to his twin brother, Jacob, for a pot of stew. What’s ironic is that Jeonghyun-ssi was following Sangmin Oppa and Yohwan around, looking for an advantage, with the die. He knew so little about his own die, that Sangmin Oppa was able to easily relieve Jeonghyun-ssi of his one, actual advantage.

Sangmin Oppa acted like Doohee’s savior – but then he just lied to Doohee, and gave him a fake hidden immunity item. Doohee was hurt all over again. Insult to injury. No one was on Doohee’s side. And then he was simply evicted. I was so happy when Sangmin Oppa went to save Doohee, with his hidden immunity item. Turns out it was just the immunity item’s case – not the item itself.

Doohee, thought he was immune – so, he blew up his game, and targeted an actual ally, Jinho Oppa, for the Death Match. Doohee, was a Cochran; he played both sides, but Sangmin Oppa really played him – after the group already played him – completely destroying the poor guy. During the Blackout Death Match, Jiwon lies to Doohee, getting him eliminated. Three people told three major lies to him, in one episode. They all really ganged up on him.

Jiwon was such a bad liar too. But Doohee wanted to believe, needed to believe. His life, in the game, was on the line. This was the worst one reality TV game episode, for an individual, ever. It is a historic The Genius episode.

The Circle, Week 2: Real/Fake


I’m still your cuddle toy.

– Alex/Adam

Sammie immediately reads that Alex/Adam’s profile pic looks like it’s straight out of an ad, or a commercial. You have two Adams, with the addition of Bill – so, there’s definitely a fake, or a catfish. Real Adam vs. Catfish Adam. People are on to Alex. Something’s off. He immediately comes up on the catfish radar.

Like I described, last week, you want an unprofessional pic, an unfiltered profile pic – not a glamour shot. ‘Glam glam’ is not approachable. You want a photo that hasn’t been touched up and nothing that seems fake. Too hot is too threatening and intimidating. You want to be unassuming and approachable. No fake positive messages, on your profile page. No tons of hot photos, on the beach. Anyone who says “ladies,” twice in a single message, reads as sleazy and super fake.

Alex/Adam is already taking too long to come up with things to say, as a supposedly hot surfer dude. Being a catfish isn’t really paying off for him, so far. As noted earlier, every time Alex/Adam speaks, he says something ridiculous. Who actually says “romp,” in an actual conversation? “I’ve been told,” is the default sentence prefix for a lie. Mr. Opera is out of his depth. It’s like he’s trying to pretend he’s an old soul, so he sounds forced. Just try incepting the word “romp,” into a chat. Try it.

Artist Alex/Adam’s game is pure wish fulfillment, complete fantasy role playing. On the other hand, an author, or another type of creative person, would be very good at catfishing. It’s about creating a realistic character and the world-building, of a good online RPG, or a high fantasy novel (Lord of the Rings). He should be good at the world-building, of a personality: releasing a little bit of the character, bit, by bit – show, not tell – but, he’s not.

On his own, Alex is dressing more like Adam. But with Shubby, real Alex is coming out, more and more. When role-playing as a catfish, don’t emotionally wall your real self off (re. Alex/Adam). It’s ok for your insecurities to seep through, a little bit, so long as the feeling is genuine. A genuine energy builds a genuine connection. It’s better for a catfish to allow the person underneath to come through, because your real self is obviously more genuine.

Alex/Adam is a strange but fascinating psychic entity, at the center of the real and the signified. Virtual, manufactured entities are both the signified and the signifier. Alex is experiencing his similar characters blending together. The character and the original are inhabiting the same headspace. It’s a metaphysical adventure, out of a philosophical, cyberpunk adventure, like the biggest cultural example, The Matrix – and, of course, Ghost in the Shell.

A side note: when you don’t know how long they’ve been in there, the family visit/video doesn’t connect as much. You have Alex/Adam’s wife, Gina, having to explain who she is, in the video. It’s like Alex/Adam needs a tattoo, just to remember, who he is – just like in the movie Memento.


It’s shark season and we’re hunting.

– Sharky Shabomb (Shubby)

Influencer culture is wild: Shubby (Shubham) has HOH-itis. Why is Shubby taking the whole Influencer thing at face value? Doesn’t he think social media is fake? It’s the heel-faced turn of the uninitiated. Shubby doesn’t know he gives off a nerdy vibe – but he’s a virtual media engineer, who doesn’t do social media. Earnest Shubby is the only one who actually does the 50 push-ups. Shubby is not street smart.

How did Shubby get the Liberty Bell answer wrong? Rocky? Shubby is still on this ‘I don’t like social media’ vibe. He doesn’t want to allow himself to like it. How does pool table equal frat? A pool table, in your friend’s basement, doesn’t read as professional. Shubby is so sheltered. Worse, Shubby is so good, he is a threat, that no one can see in the Finals. Shubby gets upset about someone being political, on The Circle – when he’s the youngest person, in the U.S., to run for governor, in California.

But that’s the extent of my criticism: Shubby is likable and non-threatening. He is a two-time influencer and is very trustworthy. Being the one unfiltered person, in a sea of filtered profile pics, is a plus, on The Circle. Be unassuming. Also, cutthroat Shubby is here. Sharks hunt catfish now, apparently. It’s Calculating Shubby; the claws are coming out.


Are you ready to sip on your tea, this morning?

– Seaburn/Rebecca

Spill the tea, get the juice. It’s the morning Kiki, where we spill all the tea. Seaburn/Rebecca isn’t working. ‘Rebecca’ is a caricature, a poorly written female character. Seaburn is also running out of material. Seaburn/Rebecca is Ms. Doutbtfire, but not in a clever way. Of course, there will be many references to Ms. Doubtfire, on a show about catfish. Does Seaburn know anything about his girlfriend?

Then, Seaburn/Rebecca goes on a romantic dinner – between two catfish. This is like a big role-playing game – that’s how the two catfish dating comes across. It’s all very stilted, like a text-based video game. Shubby also thinks Rebecca is so true; Rebecca is a catfish. Imagine if Rebecca/Seaburn came clean, instead of Sean.

Rebecca is so dull, Seaburn can get away with being a catfish. Seaburn is inhabiting his character and exploring his gender identity, as a female catfish. Even by himself, Seaburn is reacting like Rebecca, and not like himself. In this way, he is a successful catfish. Shubby and Rebecca have a good friendship, but Rebecca is a man. However, Rebecca is the only original person, in the alliance, of the original people, who is just an afterthought. She’s the (cat)fish at the bottom of the barrel.


Sean’s story is about the revelation that builds trustworthiness. ‘I’m truthful about a lie, so I must be trustworthy,’ – like Dr. Will’s big reveal, in Big Brother. When the catfish gives up, on being a catfish – the reveal, to the audience, doesn’t work, because we don’t know Sean’s catfish persona very well, or at all.

Sean’s big reveal would have been more effective, if Sean had come in first, and not later. Her big display, of vulnerability, feels rushed and inauthentic, because Sean just got here. Was the event a predetermined big reveal, or could she just not keep lying anymore?

The real message of The Circle is that no, you can’t be whoever you want, online. It’s actually way harder than you think. Maybe we haven’t had hot model Sean for very long, because she planned to reveal hot plus-sized model Sean, all along. That production would let her add another picture, means that she was planning this reveal, from the get-go.

Why would anyone ever post a bunch of pictures highlighting how hot they are? The quintessential insta model set of photos equals fake, or a catfish/bot. However, the group not wanting to let go of a person that they have experienced such an emotional event with, may lead to them not blocking the reformed, unmasked catfish.

Can Sean break into the Final 5? Will the original people get rid of unmasked catfish Sean? Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Sean was a catfish, of a catfish? In a future season, it might be cool to see a scenario where the supposed real self is just yet another catfish.

In the Loop


– Boston Rob

Game talk: Double eviction/blocking soon. With the new people versus the original people, it’s like the two original tribes, post merge, acting as a merged tribe, on Survivor. I like adding fresh players. There are no purple (invisible) edits since they are only 8 or 9 people, in the house, at any one time. There are stakes to every elimination and no throwaway characters. However, when the new people don’t read very well, when they don’t click, it may be just too many people added, too quickly. There are too many interesting storylines already. We just can’t spend a lot of time, with the new people.

Bill, a likable person, who you want to have a beer with, just doesn’t pop, halfway through the game. Sometimes being likable isn’t enough. It’s the main cast versus the B cast. You can tell why some people were sent in later, as opposed to being sent in first. Like I said, they were added too late and too fast. The barriers to entry, for caring about the new people, are too high.

The natural instinct is to support the original tribe and keep the original tribe’s numbers strong. It’s hard to fight the natural instinct to keep the original people. Loyalty dog whistles and hidden messages are being disseminated, as the Final 5, original people secret group, that everyone is talking around, appears. The originals want to make sure the new people and old people don’t tie up, when it comes to voting people out. The new people are just cannon fodder, red shirts.

Natural ways to expose catfish are good TV, but may not lend to a good social game. It’s a trade-off. Some original people want to use the catfish, as goats, and meat shields. The flip-side is that it’s actually not that easy to drag someone to the end. The players must consider who is going to get taken for granted, when people start voting tactically – to use a term from The Circle UK. Even one person refusing to vote tactically, in the end, can win someone else the entire game. What are the winner possibilities, if everyone is voting tactically? What is the probability or likelihood of a certain person voting tactically? The winner will be announced on insta.