Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
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On its surface, The Circle sounds like some shallow, bingeable trash. Stick around until the second episode, however, and you’ll likely be hooked. The social media competition that forms the spine of the Netflix series—players communicate solely through a social media platform, trying to convey authenticity so as not to get blocked by the game’s “influencers”—isn’t all that gripping in a vacuum, but its reliance on the personalities and machinations of its cast is the key to its appeal. Shockingly, even the most duplicitous of the contestants—some purposely catfish their colleagues—turn out to be compelling, amiable folks, each working to convey genuine emotions through a deceptive avatar. But, as the show makes abundantly clear, one’s genuine self is capable of bleeding through a chat box. Four of the five finalists, after all, survived the entirety of the game without once masking their identity or motivations. The friendships they made really felt real.

Just look at Joey Sasso and Shubham Goel. The former is a buff, flirtatious bartender with a thick Jersey accent while the latter is a socially awkward, Marvel-loving virtual reality engineer—together, however, they formed one of the sweetest, most soul-affirming bonds on TV. Their friendship started simply, with Joey observing in the second episode that Shubham—a.k.a. Shooby—was “buggin’ last night” and Shooby fretting over whether adding “man” to the end of a casual inquiry sounded weird. Now, with the show behind them, the pair have made it clear their bromance will persevere beyond the cameras.

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“In every way possible, we are different, but that’s the beauty of it,” Shooby recently told Cosmo. “He was my day-one guy in there. Me and Joey still keep in touch....When I’m back [in Los Angeles], we’re definitely gonna kick it. I’m hoping to kick it, like, three or four times a week. With Joey, I one hundred percent know that our relationship from that Circle is going to be just as strong outside of it.”

So, to ensure we never forget the exquisite nature of their union, please join us for a pictorial trek through their friendship’s most pivotal moments.

(Note: I will be spelling it “Shooby,” despite Netflix’s closed captioning spelling it “Shubby.” It sounds like “Shooby,” guys.)

Shooby coins the term “bro-ey Joey”

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Joey sees Shooby in his little suit

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Shooby gets protective

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Shooby and Joey establish loyalty

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Shooby proves his loyalty

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Joey promises that no woman will sully their union

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Shooby gets jealous

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Yet Shooby remains loyal, even as it exhausts other players

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Shooby accepts no substitutes

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Joey gets personal

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#TheTrustHasBeenEarned

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Joey and Shooby become co-influencers

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Joey and Shooby party in the Influencer Hang-Out

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Shooby is proud of their influencing

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Shooby promises to protect Joey, even if it means his “demise in the Circle”

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#AlwaysLoyal

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They are no longer friends, but family

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Shooby still can’t think of any cons for Joey

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Shooby comes to the sad realization that the game may pit them against each other

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Joey refuses to accept this, chooses friendship over strategy

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Joey, having become a superinfluencer, saves Rebecca as a sign of loyalty to Shooby

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Shooby tells Joey he makes him “feel like the luckiest person in the world”

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Shooby and Joey meet, a nation rejoices

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#FriendsTillTheEnd, indeed.

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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