Netflix’s latest reality show Social Currency is Roadies-meets-Bigg Boss with a dash of Survival. What sets the eight-part Indian series apart is its contestants, all social media influencers, who have been given a 21-day window to walk the talk — that is, use their social capital and show us how much influence they actually have. The one with the maximum influence wins the show and a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh, along with a lot of content to draw more followers. Here’s why you could give Social Currency a try.
Online influence meets offline challenges
Social media influencers typically operate within the confines of online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube. Social Currency challenges participants to interact with people in the real world, testing their ability to leverage their offline social connections for victory. Convincing individuals to make purchases in person proves to be far more challenging for the contestants than promoting products through videos.
The eight participants
Filmed in a villa in Goa, Social Currency features a diverse lineup of influencers — there’s comedian Aakash Mehta, singer-songwriter Sakshi Chopra who’s also Ramanand Sagar’s granddaughter, TV actor Parth Samthaan, Delhi-based fashion influencer Mridul Madhok, screenwriter Vagmita Singh, former Miss India Ruhii Siingh, Instagram influencer Bhavin Bhanushali and fashionista Rowhi Rai.
The participants are initially ranked based on their Instagram follower count but as the competition progresses, the points they earn during tasks is added to their score to determine the ultimate winner.
Aakash, who entered the villa first, was initially at the bottom of the leaderboard but managed to win people over with his charm. Vagmita, known for her bold content, brought the same energy to the show. Sakshi represented an international touch that intrigued viewers but she didn’t get much screen time.
Bhavin Bhanushali showed off his social media persona and tried his best to stand out. Mridul’s primary focus was winning the game, often resorting to a domineering attitude. Parth, on the other hand, appeared out of place despite his numerical success, lacking knowledge about the influencer world.
Roadies-esque tasks in a Survival set-up
The format of Social Currency might remind you of the first episode of Black Mirror Season 3, titled Nosedive, which explores a future where individuals rate their interactions with others on a scale of one to five. This cumulative rating system directly impacts the contestants’ social capital.
In Social Currency, the eight influencers have to start from scratch. No PR packages, sponsored trips or food coupons; they have to forgo their existing following on social media and with a limited budget that they have been given, they have to create a new Instagram handle for themselves to fight and win the contest. With the points they earn during the tasks assigned to them, they can buy privileges like a dorm bed or dinner.
Throughout the show, participants are challenged to create compelling content, ranging from roasting each other to performing various tasks on the streets — belly dancing, selling items to tourists, convincing strangers to perform a dare — much like the tasks we often see on Roadies and Splitsvilla.
While Social Currency does not have a host, there is an ‘Admin’ — reminiscent of the cone named Lana on Too Hot To Handle — who communicates with the contestants through text messages on a group chat. Sunny Leone, Kusha Kapila, Ashish Chanchlani and Badshah appear as special guests on the show to test the contestants’ social standing.
Hits and misses
Social Currency showcases a diverse group of influencers navigating a world without their digital platforms, displaying moments of vulnerability and personal insights. From the beginning, Sakshi and Vagmita developed a strong bond, and viewers hoped for their friendship to flourish.
Meanwhile, Mridul had a constant power struggle with Parth as he viewed him as a threat. Over time, Mridul turned increasingly arrogant and disrespectful towards the women contestants. In contrast, Aakash emerged as a relatable individual by openly discussing his anxiety issues.
Unfortunately, the challenges they faced failed to shed light on the often overlooked efforts of content creation. While Social Currency does provide a glimpse into the lives of social media influencers, it falls short of offering a comprehensive representation of the struggles faced by Indian content creators. However, for those interested in seeing Parth Samthaan dance shirtless, Social Currency might be worth a watch.