Nowadays, it is fairly easy to be whoever you want to be online. Pick a catchy name, choose a pretty picture and there you go: you have created your very own fake profile. However, taking on a fake identity can cause major problems. These problems are addressed in the television show Catfish.
In Catfish: the TV show, hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph help people who are head over heels about someone they met online, but at the same time, feel like there is something off about their lover. They don't want to video chat or meet up, for example. This is where Nev and Max come in. They go on an online investigation in order to find out who the person behind the profile is. After their investigation comes to a conclusion, they go in for a confrontation. This is the most interesting part about the series: who will open the door?
Nev Schulman is not new to the concept of catfishing. In fact, he even made a documentary (with Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost) about his own love life. He fell in love with a girl named Megan on Facebook. Eventually, she turned out to be a woman named Angela, who was nowhere near the same age as Megan and did not look like her. So he was catfished himself. This makes Catfish: the TV show more credible as well. Since Nev has experienced catfishing himself, it makes sense that he would try to help others who face the same problem.
As for Max, he is actually Nev’s filming buddy. He carries around a tiny camera. The benefit of this camera is that the viewer experiences what is happening from a first-person point of view, which is a nice addition. It makes you feel more included, like you are actually there.
Catfish raises awareness regarding important issues in our society
The entertainment value of the show is high. The show’s format, explained above, is effective. When you start watching, you want to know how it will end. The producers build up tension during the entire first part of the episode. In the investigation stage, Nev and Max usually discover a few options as to who the person could be. As a viewer you want to know who it is, this is what manages to keep people watching. The whole show revolves around the reveal of the catfish.
Catfish also raises awareness regarding important issues in our society. More and more people engage in online relationships. Unfortunately, not everyone on the internet is honest about their identity. Online media allows us to be dishonest about who we are, since not all identities get verified. It gives people a way to escape reality and be someone else. This results in many people getting misled, which can truly affect their lives in a negative way. Catfish teaches us not to trust everyone you meet online. It even provides viewers with techniques to check whether their significant other is legit, for example running their pictures through a Google Image search.
Not only does the show provide us with warnings, but it also sheds light on other issues, such as people who struggle with their sexuality, and mental health issues like depression. This reflects on our present-day society. Lots of people struggle with these kind of problems nowadays. The catfishes often have some issues with themselves, which drove them to create a fake profile. Nev and Max try to help the catfishes with their struggles. It is a positive thing that such serious matters can be discussed in an entertaining reality show.
One thing that remains questionable about the show is its authenticity. The stories on the show keep getting crazier with every new season. Sometimes it does feel like the episodes are scripted; the stories seem too shocking the be true. In one episode, for example, a girl named Jasmine thought she was dating Mike for over two years. However, "Mike" turned out to be Mhissy, Jasmine's old friend. Mhissy wanted Jasmine to stay away from Triggs, who is Mhissy's boyfriend and Jasmine's ex, so she created a fake profile to lure Jasmine away. When Jasmine found out the truth, the two girls got in a fight. This is just one of the crazy stories that Catfish has provided us with. Some former catfishes have even claimed that they were the ones who originally reached out to the show, but eventually they were portrayed as the catfish to make the story more interesting.
Although we might never know whether the show is scripted or not, it is still fun to watch. It is highly entertaining due to the tension the producers build up regarding the reveal of the catfish. Not only is it entertaining, you can also learn a thing or two from it. It helps you to recognize signs of fake profiles quicker. The fact that Catfish also addresses some serious issues of present-day society takes the show to another level and distinguishes it from other reality shows.