We Really Need To Discuss What Happened To Mama Michelle In Season 3 Of ‘The Circle’

Imagine your entire game falling apart because no one believes that you don't kiss your dogs on the mouth.

the circle season 3 michelle twist clone

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With so much happening in the world right now, it would be understandable if you’d missed that Netflix had dropped a brand new season of The Circle. 

The reality show, now in its third season (!!) since launching in 2020, focuses on eight contestants who have to build authentic connections through an app while trapped along in different apartments. The goal? Make enough friends to become the top “influencer” at the end of the experiment to win $100,000.

While it may sound simple, it gets complicated as catfish flood in and the Circle app throws out twists to shake up the game — something that is more evident than ever in Season 3.

— Warning: major spoilers for the first four episodes of Season 3 of ‘The Circle’ ahead —

Sadly, one victim of Season 3’s chaotic early twists was Michelle Rider, the mama of the original eight contestants in the game, who quickly became a fan favourite.

The 52-year-old, dog-loving South Carolina mum of four — who also just so happens to be a TikTok star?! — went into the game as herself because she didn’t believe she “could be anybody else but myself”. But The Circle clearly had other ideas for sweet, innocent Michelle.

Instead of just letting the excited mum be herself and have fun in the game, The Circle gave an eliminated contestant the opportunity to clone Michelle’s profile, which ultimately led to her, quite frankly, unfair elimination. Sad!

Mama Michelle Deserved Better

Despite starting the game strong and well-liked by her fellow contestants, Michelle’s game quickly started to unravel when people started to suspect she was a possible catfish.

What sent alarm bells ringing, you ask? During a game of ‘Ice Breaker’, Michelle revealed that she doesn’t kiss her dogs on the mouth because it’s “unsanitary”. And honestly, if I heard an old white woman, whose profile picture is literally her holding her two dogs, I would also start asking questions too.

Unfortunately for Michelle, deciding to be clean and not super gross was the beginning of her downfall. As her fellow contestants started to suspect that the Southern belle potentially wasn’t who she said she was based on the dog kiss answer alone, Michelle dropped to the bottom of the first rankings.

But if that wasn’t already enough of a gut-punch, the following morning Michelle woke up to find that her entire profile had been cloned and she had become ‘Orange Michelle’ thanks to The Circle’s latest bonkers twist.

After Ava — who was played by Ava and her sister Chanel — were eliminated in the first rankings, they were offered a chance to get back into the game if they were willing to commit identity theft. And so, after choosing to clone Michelle because “people already think that she’s a catfish”, they re-entered The Circle as ‘Blue Michelle’.

But just like when Courtney was given far too much power to dictate the game as the ‘Inner Circle Joker’ in Season 2, this season’s ‘clone’ twist not only sucks, it’s also unfair.

Instead of just letting the game focus on each contestant’s ability to build social connections and just generally be likeable enough to make it to the end, these twists turn the competition into an entirely different game — a game that I’m sure sweet Michelle never signed up for.

And in the wise words of Dwight from The Office: “Identity theft is not a joke, Jim. Millions of families suffer every year!”.

But How Can Everyone Else Be So Damn Clueless?

Now there’s no denying that Ava targeting Michelle, because she isn’t as tech-savvy or clued in as much as the younger contestants, is a low-blow. But everyone else failing to figure out that Orange Michelle was the OG was embarrassing.

From the first clone message alone, it was clear that Orange was the original. Instead of questioning what was happening, like any normal person would do when your entire identity is stolen in the middle of the night, Blue Michelle instantly went into defense mode to claim she was the real one.

Meanwhile, Orange Michelle just shared her believable confusion over what the hell was going on. Plus, Blue used a whole bunch of hashtags and abbreviations that a 52-year-old just simply would never use. Sorry, but #StoleMyFace? #SMF? Who else but a 20-something would be tacking those random hashtags on at the end of a sentence?!

Also, despite Kai being from the South herself and banging on about her FBI agent dad and her great bullshit detecting skills, she didn’t even pick up on the shady phrase “Bless Your Heart” being used incorrectly by Blue Michelle.

But then there was the ‘This Is Me’ game, where all of the contestants proved they all truly have no fucking clue about anything.

In the game, Blue and Orange Michelle both provided the background story to a number of throwback photos. And you’d think that this would work in the real Michelle’s favour considering they’re all her own images, right? Wrong. The contestants instead chose to ignore the extremely detailed descriptions Orange Michelle gave about her photos in favour of the generic, nondescript answers Blue shared.

For example, in the horse-riding photo, Orange gave a whole lot of detail. She shared the location where the image was taken (Bahamas), explained how she could afford the trip (won after becoming a top sales manager), and even added a quip about her husband to allude to him being there. Meanwhile, Blue just said it was a “fond memory” and a “weekend getaway” with no information on where or when the moment happened.

Similarly, in the fish photo, Orange Michelle not only offered the breed of fish but also referenced the exact Clemson shirt she was wearing in the image. Yet, it still wasn’t enough and Blue’s generic message about ~loving lake time with family~ worked to convince everyone.

Hell, even in the wedding throwback, Calvin somehow believed Blue saying the photo was taken at prom in 1986 even though Michelle was holding a literal BOUQUET OF FLOWERS in the photo.

We Need Justice For Orange Michelle

Sadly, in the end, the contestants ended up eliminating the real Michelle from The Circle by unanimous vote.

After her elimination, it was clear that production forced Michelle to visit her clone to avoid blowing up Ava’s cover to keep the mystery of “Michelle” alive. But the planned visit really wasn’t even necessary because Kai and Ruksana ended up booting out the fake Michelle the very next day.

As it turned out, Ava and Chanel weren’t actually great catfish. In fact, they were so bad that the new-and-improved Michelle landed last place in the rankings again as people started to suspect that they may have eliminated the wrong one.

But even though justice was eventually served with Ava’s second elimination from the game, the sad fact still remains: The Real Mama Michelle deserved so much better.

You can stream the first four episodes of The Circle Season 3 on Netflix now. The next set of episodes drop today.

Michelle Rennex is a senior writer at Junkee. She tweets at @michellerennex.