Season 4 of The Circle — a Netflix reality show — features a Hoboken-based contestant. John Franklin, a social media content creator also known as ‘Mama Carol’ on the show, has lived in Hoboken for the past year and competed for the $150,000 prize on this social media- and deception-based reality show. To compete in The Circle, contestants are isolated in separate apartments and can interact with one another only through a special social media platform. They can choose to either portray themselves honestly or adopt a fake persona to catfish other contestants as they attempt to get ranked highly by their competitors, avoid being blocked by other players, and win the grand prize.
John chose to disguise himself as his mother, Mama Carol, in an attempt to trick his fellow contestants and win. Don’t worry, we’ll keep this post spoiler-free as to how far he made it — you can watch The Circle’s season 4 finale on Netflix, which aired on May 25th, to find out for yourself. The Hoboken Girl sat down with John to get a behind-the-scenes scoop of his reality TV experience as well as hear all about his local Hoboken life. Read on to learn about Hoboken-based John Franklin from The Circle.
John and his mom, the real-life ‘Mama Carol’
(Photo credit: @_johnfranklin__)
Hoboken Girl: Did you grow up in Hoboken? If not, when/why did you move here?
John Franklin: I didn’t grow up in Hoboken! I grew up in West Caldwell, NJ. I moved to Hoboken in April 2021, and I love every second of it.
HG: What is your favorite part about living in Hoboken? Do you have a favorite spot?
John Franklin: I gotta say, I just love walking around town and running into people I know. The people in this town are absolutely unreal! My all-time favorite spot is Empire Coffee. I’m there every morning because I’m addicted to caffeine, and the staff is amazing. Food in this town is unrivaled. Quick stuff like Mamoun’s, Shaka Bowl, and Tastee Platters are go-to for me. I love Onieal’s, Zack’s, Antique, and La Bouche, to name some other spots. Favorite place to get a drink ever is Mulligan’s. I had a viewing party for the show there! I also love Willie McBride’s too.
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HG: What do you do for a living?
John Franklin: I currently am a Social Media Content Creator at BetMGM, so if you go on our social you’ll see my mug all over it. I also do standup comedy, and that would be a dream to do that full time.
(Photo credits: @thecirclenetflix)
HG: How did you find out about The Circle? What made you want to be on it? What was the casting process like?
John Franklin: I binged season one during the early part of the pandemic, and I was hooked. I immediately knew I could crush it on a show like that. I love The Circle because it takes away the superficiality of what reality TV has been for years. Anyone can be on The Circle regardless of looks and social stature. It truly is about what your personality is, and the casting process really reflected that! I sent in a random application, and the rest of the process was really just getting to know me and just being my very outrageous self!
HG: How long was filming? What can you tell us about the experience?
John Franklin: I spent a month in England for the show, and filming took about two weeks of that time. The experience was amazing. From the beginning I loved every minute. The people who work on this show are second-to-none. They’re so awesome, and they make it all feel like home. It is crazy to be in a room by yourself for those two weeks, but they really do everything they can to make you feel right at home.
HG: Have you always wanted to be on TV?
John Franklin: Definitely! Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to entertain people. Seeing yourself on TV is nothing you get used to by the way. It’s so crazy to think I actually made it on a show, but it’s always been such a dream!
HG: Tell us more about the persona you chose for The Circle. What made you choose to portray your mom?
John Franklin: Oh man… I honestly came up with the idea on the spot during casting, but right after I said it I knew it was the right way to play the game. I think because of my age people think social media makes you very superficial. Almost like everything you say has to have an ulterior motive. Behind the façade of my mom, I was able to build incredibly genuine connections, and I don’t regret it for a minute!
HG: How would you describe yourself in three words? How would you describe your persona on The Circle in three words? How are they different?
John Franklin: I’d say for me I’m funny, outrageous, and loyal. For my persona I’d say caring, loyal, and compassionate. Not to say I’m not caring or compassionate, but there are certain traits you have to dial back when you play someone else, and certain traits you really have to bring to the forefront of your mind when you speak in the game.
HG: How did your mom react upon finding out you chose to be her? When did she find out you’d made this decision?
John Franklin: I literally called her and said, “Mom I need 15 pictures of you no questions asked.” And she did it. That’s the cool thing about my mom. She’ll jump in and help however she can. I went through all of casting without explaining to her what I was doing. It wasn’t to deceive her, it was because I knew casting would take a while and she’d be stressing until I got the answer. She’s been so invested in this and it makes it really cool!
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HG: What can viewers expect to see this season?
John Franklin: I can’t tell you much. What I can tell you is that there is so much more game to be played, and it sounds cliché, but there are some MAJOR twists you guys haven’t seen yet. Things are about to really heat up!
HG: What’s next for you? What are some of your goals in the coming years?
John Franklin: I want to shoot and produce a standup comedy special. This is the jumping off point to launch my career, and I don’t want to wait on it! I also write sketches with my friend Steve, and we are hoping to really launch those in the next few years. For now, I want to really enjoy living this couple of months and soak in the time with my friends and family!
HG: What advice would you give to someone who wants to star on a reality show?
John Franklin: Find the right one for you, be yourself, and be ready to be at 100% all of the time. Personality is so much of what gets you on TV. At the end of the day, the person who can sell yourself the best is you.
HG: Is there anything else you want to share about your experience?
John Franklin: I just want to say how incredible The Circle family is. Our cast from Season 4 is so close, and I’m so lucky to have them. On top of that, casts from previous seasons have reached out and just made sure our journey is going great! It is a beautiful thing when so many different types of people and walks of life can make up such a crazy bunch, but hey, that’s our family!
You can follow John on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.