Vulture recently interviewed the executive producer of Catfish, the MTV reality show that brings together couples who have never before met in person, because they’ve carried out their entire relationships online for months or years. In each episode, show hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph carry out some fine investigate reporting to figure out whether someone in the relationship is getting “catfished” by their partner, who is almost always pretending to be someone they’re not by fabricating information, using someone else’s photos, and the like.
Okay, yes, we’re talking about the “MTV reality dating show” category here, but while Catfish is definitely contrived, it is not as contrived as you may have thought. For instance, even though everyone signs a waiver to appear on-camera before the crew starts filming, there’s no way for the producers to know whether or not the catfish will go through with the “big reveal” that constitutes each episode’s climax, when the two parties meet face-to-face. And although the episodes are set up from the point of view of the person who’s getting catfished, it’s actually the catfish who volunteers to be cast first most of the time. Which makes sense, in a way — in each episode, you really do get the sense that the catfish is struggling with the psychological burden of the elaborate lies they’ve constructed and fed to someone they’ve since fallen in love with.
Contrived and self-righteous-do-goodery as it may feel at times, Catfish remains pretty damn captivating, if only because it does an eerily good job at reiterating the fact that loneliness is very real, very universal, and can take any form, regardless of one’s age, weight, occupation, location, and sexual orientation. (Speaking of captivating, it is my personal belief that the only way to watch Catfish is in Catfish marathons.)
Read more at Vulture.