By: Brittany Dempsey
“Catfish” is a show hosted by Nev Schulman and Max Joseph wherein people seek help in finding their mysterious online love interests. One article, titled “Is ‘Catfish’ Catfishing America?” (http://www.hollywood.com/tv/catfish-mtv-catfishing-america-59085718/) explains: “Schulman sets out weekly to unite two people in online relationships who might not be telling the truth about their identity. But the lens through which the show views these people’s lives may not be exactly truthful itself.” The point of the show is to find out who is behind the computer screen pretending to be somewhere or someone they are not. Nev and Max work as the dynamic duo solving cases of identity fraud within romances.
In an article, titled “Here’s How MTV’s Catfish Actually Works,” (http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/catfish-mtv-casting-production-process.html) Denise Martin says, “Filmmaker and “Catfish” investigator Max Joseph told us after last week’s episode that the MTV reality hit “is about breaking through to people and getting them to see themselves and understand their decisions and their actions.” The show is bizarre yet refreshing because it is all about a strangers willing to see past all the red flags to meet their significant other.
Series executive producer and MTV senior vice president of news and docs, Marshall Eisen, tells Vulture what viewers need to know about “Catfish”: some cases take a long time to crack, Nev and Max known the least about the situation, and stories can turn out really dark. Each episode begins with Nev and Max opening up one of the thousands of emails they receive on a daily basis. They tend to pick an email that stands out to them the most. They read the email out loud from the person who wants to meet their secret love interest. The emailer sender thinks they know who it is they love, but they feel the need to reach out because something about their lover just seems suspicious. Most of the time issues occur in these relationships because one person out of the pair does not want to Facetime, Skype, etc. This brings the person to believe maybe they are a different gender or sex than they originally stated. Another issue is that one person keeps sending the same few pictures, which leads the other to believe that maybe they are not who they say they are.
Max and Nev start by doing a series of investigative steps, specifically looking at multiple forms of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They drag the picture of the catfisher into Google to do a reverse image search. They also look up the phone number that the catfishee provides them, and normally they find that it belongs to someone who is not the face in the picture. Then Max and Nev look to see if the catfishee and catfisher have any mutual friends. If so, they reach out to them and see what the connection is between the mutual friend and the catfishee.
Surprisingly, there are reasons for viewers to feel the need to be skeptical of the show. In an article, titled Is ‘Catfish’ Catfishing America? (http://www.hollywood.com/tv/catfish-mtv-catfishing-america-59085718/) “You know how they said that [the catfishee] had reached out to them?” a cast member from the series (whom we spoke to anonymously to protect their relationship with MTV) tells Hollywood.com. “I don’t know why they put that in there because it’s not even true. It was actually me that reached out to them.” This is something that needs to be taken into consideration because if the audience knew that the catfishee was actually the one reaching out, it would be a complete plot twist. Though, this is not true for all cases, it is something that should be vocalized. It may actually continue to make the show more interesting. Nev and Max always say that they do not like liars, so why is it that they feel comfortable lying about the premise of the show?
In an article titled “Catfish’ Fake?” Also explains that… (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/catfish-fake-mtv-reality-show_n_2718664.html) “Other phony allegations include the show participants agree to meet in person prior to filming and Schulman’s calls and research. Additionally, some cast members say their online relationships were never romantic and some had their timelines fudged, others weren’t actually talking to their Internet love.” “Catfish” is known for its spontaneity and the way two guys can unite a dishonest online couple within the digital age. If viewers knew that introductions, conversations, and meet ups happened beforehand, it would ruin the show for many. It is ironic that this show is not as it seems because that is the underlying concept of “Catfish”.
The setup of the show is meant to make the catfishee look like the innocent one in the picture. Nev and Max surprise the catfishee by letting them know that they are willing to do whatever it takes to help them find the truth. They learn more about the couples relationships, uncover the truths, and track down the catfisher to meet up. The part of the show that I think really attracts people is the shocking heart racing moment when the door opens to the person who has been hiding. Nobody ever knows who is on the other side or so, that is what we are meant to believe as an audience. If it is true that they meet up with the couple beforehand, then what is the fun in the solving the mystery?
Overall, it never occurred to me just how real this show can be. Backgrounds checks are needed before producing the show and therapists are there for after the show. Waivers have to be signed in order to make sure that everyone has agreed to doing the show, though it does not mean that everyone will participate or cooperate to their full potential. Though there are many reasons to believe the show is “fake,” it is also very real. The reason why many people catfish someone they claim to “love” is because they have mental health issues due to bullying and other tragic events. Though, sometimes it can be to purposely target someone or just someone’s sick idea of “fun”. Nev and Max take as much time as they need to help relationships that need mending. The show tries hard to produce a condensed version of all that madness that goes on behind the scenes.
In an article titled Here’s How MTV’s Catfish Actually Works (http://www.vulture.com/2014/05/catfish-mtv-casting-production-process.html) Denise Martin says “Think of it not as destroying the magic but as proof that all that anxiety is real, which makes “Catfish” just plain good TV.” “Catfish” will always be a mysterious show that allows viewers to feel a part of Nev and Max’s adventure, and that is something that will never change.