If we were to describe reality television in one word, it would be "delicious." There's something so enticing and dystopian about reality shows, especially the variety that throw a bunch of hot, arrogant strangers in a house together. Don't get us wrong, the Real Housewives franchise offers notes of a broken society as well, but that's another story.
Wild reality series like The Circle and Sexy Beasts, prove that Netflix gets our guilty pleasures, happily feeding them with a profusion of controversial reality content. The newest of the bunch is experimental Spanish reality show Insiders, hosted by Money Heist actress Najwa Nimiri. The show follows a group of conventionally gorgeous people who think they've made it to the final round of casting for a reality show, but little do they know, they're already the stars, and they're fighting for €100,000 (about $116,000).
With neon, tech-inspired, Black Mirror-like marketing, Insiders — which released on Oct. 21, 2021 — promotes itself as boasting a futuristic concept, which is debatable considering shows like 2003's The Joe Schmo Show have previously explored the idea. The show's format — which boasts 250 hidden microphones and 70 hidden cameras —puts viewers ahead of the game as they watch the clueless cast members cross their fingers in hopes of being chosen for a fake reality show. It's a lot.
Do the contestants of Netflix's 'Insiders' find out they've already been cast on a reality show?
"Let's be real, contestants on reality shows know all the tricks these days. We wanted to get their guard down, and get them to show their true colors. And for that, there was only one option: to create Insiders," latex-donning host Najwa Nimiri explained in the series' opening scene. Beginning with 12 cast members, who are unknowingly being filmed in a setup that mimics 1998's fantastic dramedy The Truman Show, Insiders possesses the ingredients of great reality television.
"As you can imagine, recording 12 people without them realizing it is a challenge. A technical challenge, because this space is full of cameras even if you can't see them. And a human challenge, but it was done," Najwa continued. But Insiders only manipulated its anxious, vulnerable chosen ones for a few episodes, as the group was let in on the secret in Episode 4, titled "Streaming Life."
For viewers, it's easy to feel secondhand embarrassment, as the shocked contestants were subsequently presented with oodles of cringe-inducing secretly-filmed moments. By that point, there were only nine contestants left, who had a week to strategize their way to the end of the game. But what exactly is the game?
With explosive drama, betrayal, alliances, and sexual tension present at practically every moment, it seems as if viewers are intended to be too distracted to realize there's hardly a game to play. The show has been compared to the likes of long-running CBS reality show Big Brother, just more twisted (if that's even possible). Aside from its attention-grabbing premise, which loses its magic come Episode 4, Insiders is a rebrand of previous reality television shows.
All episodes of Insiders are currently streaming on Netflix.