Five reasons why you should watch Catfish

Becky Suter

4th June 2014

I refuse to believe people who complain "There's nothing on TV", when we live in a world where Catfish: The TV Show exists. Based on the 2010 movie when cameras followed Nev Schulman as he tracked down the girl he was in an online relationship with, now Nev and his filmmaker buddy Max travel across the US, righting wrongs and unravelling the mysteries of online dating like a sexier Noughties version of Scooby-Doo. The upshot of Nev's story was that people lie about who they are on the internet, and TV is now all the better for it.

It is literally the best thing ever. I present to you five reasons why you should be watching Catfish: The TV show now. Now, now, now now now.
Pure, unadulterated schadenfreude

Sometimes you can despair at the current state of the human race, but sometimes it's nice to feel a bit better about yourself, even if it's as a result of someone who would be best off removed from the gene pool. It's a sad but true fact that Catfish wouldn't work if there weren't some gullible people out there.

The first rule of the internet is don't believe everything you see. Catfishees (the ones being duped) were too busy reading "Top 20 Llamas Who Just Want To Be Your Friend" on Buzzfeed, or supporting 20 Nigerian princesses to take heed of this.

Take Sunny from the first season. Despite never meeting in person or even on video chat, Sunny believed everything that her online boyfriend Jamison had told her: that he was a successful male model living in LA who did a bit of writing for Chelsea Handler on the side AND was doing an online medical degree in anesthesiology. She never once questioned any of it. Was he too good to be true? Of course he was.

All Nev and Max had to do was a simple Google search for Jamison's lies to unravel and Nev and Max had to break the news to Sunny that he "may" have been lying to her.

When "Jamison" was in fact revealed as a girl called Chelsea who had made a fake profile, it gave a strong sense of satisfaction that not only did Sunny deserve it because she was so naïve, but that fortune never favours those who are stupidly hopeful. Trust no one, believe nothing.

Nev and Max

The online relationships in Catfish are really only second to the hotness brewing between hosts Nev and Max. Their bromance is now the stuff of internet legend (including disturbing yet slightly arousing fan fiction). They are opposites but complement each other perfectly: Nev is the optimistic romantic one; Max the cynical naysayer and cultural commentator (eg "She's Insta-famous!"; "She's a Catfish terrorist!")

Their gentle ribbing of each other (snigger), hilarious airport hijinks and the sympathy they give their subjects is touching and gives me feelings I don't understand.

They're also not afraid to get sassy. In season two, poor Jen had been duped by a massive douche called Bryan, who created fake profiles in order to up his "game" with girls. Both enraged by Bryan's lack of remorse in front of a distraught Jen, it looked like Nev and Max were about to get their smackdown on this particular Catfish, but they chose to use their words instead.

BRYAN: I have no emotional feelings towards her. I could never have a romantic relationship with her.

MAX: Then why the fuck are we here?

NEV: You realise this makes you look like a huge asshole right? ... I don't really give a fuck about you wanting to come clean and set the story straight about all the other girls you're being a dick to. Why did I bring this awesome, amazing girl here for you to clear your conscience?
Sometimes there IS love (but it doesn't come easy)

If I wanted to watch a show with happy endings, I'd only watch Peppa Pig. It might be easier to believe that true love is non-existent (except the unconditional love a TV host may feel for his filmmaker buddy), but what Catfish also demonstrates well is that the path to love is a rocky one.

Brian and Jesse were a couple in love who had been chatting and sharing secrets online for three years, but had never actually met. Nev and Max did their sleuthing and – shock – it turned out Brian was actually who he said he was. Not even weapons of mass destruction or post-traumatic stress disorder could keep them apart because who doesn't love a little crazy with access to guns?

Jesse heard it all and still loved him, even in spite of the minor detail of Brian's wife, which he'd also forgotten to mention. Undeterred, Jesse moved in with Brian ... only to break up with him two days later. Love is patient, love is kind, but love is also weird.

Sometimes, however, a genuine heartwarming story does break through. Shy and retiring Kya was herself a Catfish pretending to be someone else when she discovered her perfect guy Alyx on vampirefreaks.com (there's someone out there for everyone, guys). Kya felt bad and came clean, but in a huge twist Alyx turned out to be Dani, a transgendered woman. Both had lied to the other, but their connection was so deep it wasn't a barrier and they were instantly smitten with each other. Here Catfish proved that sometimes love is actually great and, uh sorry, I have something in my eye...

The Catfish Curveball!

There's a point in every episode of Catfish where everything gets turned on its head: up is down, left is right, x is y, etc. There is literally no way of guessing what will happen.

In the opener of season two we met Cassie, who was in the most intense online relationship Catfish had seen. Through Steve's support (and the odd bit of phone sex) Cassie had turned her life around and she proposed to Steve, who happily accepted. Please remember at this point THEY HAD NOT ACTUALLY MET, and in what should been a red flag bigger than the one flying over the Chinese Embassy, Steve was always too busy to video chat, because he was a rapper and always on tour/in the studio.

That's the other red flag right there: 99.99% of Catfishes are rappers (after three seasons of this, you'd expect even Beyonce to start looking at Jay-Z with suspicion).

The heartbreaking truth was that Steve, or rather Steve's voice, was in fact Tony ... who was acting on the orders of his cousin Gladys, who just happened to be Cassie's best friend and had orchestrated the whole thing. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNNN.

AWKWARD. And also icky.

This leads me to perhaps the best TV episode – EVER.

"I may or may not have killed my dad..."

Artis was your typical Catfishee: he seemed a nice enough guy but he was willing to risk his long-term relationship on the basis of one saucy photo of a girl with a nice rack and some eye-raising texts. It could have been beautiful; he told Jess how much he wanted them to be together and we saw a text where he was wishing Jess was "here right now, rubbing you down kissing yo body down slow". It was so romantic.

And then something crazy happened. This guy turned up.

When "Jess" finally agreed to meet Artis, it was an irate Justin who showed up, making moves to seemingly attack Artis, shouting, "You can still be my chocolate kiss", and "I had that!" but declaring he wasn't gay. Justin was an online vigilante who would honey-trap gullible men online, because ... reasons. As a terrified Nev and Max realized this unhinged fellow was about to put them out of business, it felt like we had entered the darkest timeline.

What followed was the stuff of nightmares. After an uncomfortable scene with a dog at Justin's house that was scarier than any Saw film, Justin admitted he had "anger issues", and revealed that his dad had died "abruptly", and that he had found the body. It was claw-at-your-face-terrifying.

Needless to say, Artis and Justin did not stay in touch. It was an insane-crazy episode, and showcased everything that Catfish has to offer. Justin is still out there folks, so take heed and don't believe everything you read.

More:  Catfish  MTV  Top 10
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