Swimming with a Catfish


On the internet, a “catfish” is a person who creates fake personal profiles on social media sites—pretending to be someone more outwardly appealing than his/her true self, by using someone else’s pictures and false biographical information.


“A catfish is someone who assumes a false identity on the Internet using various platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A catfish is often undesirable in comparison to their profile, as an actual catfish would be to a premium ‘catch’ fish like the Alaskan salmon.” – UrbanDictionary



The TV series in turn premièred on November 2012, and is hosted by Nev Schulman.


How many times have we added people to our personal Facebook account without actually knowing them or having met them personally? The fact is that everyone has done it, and everyone will keep doing it. But it’s one thing to add up your future roommate whom you’re going to spend the next semester in college with, and a completely different thing when you add up your future roommate’s-ex-girlfriend’s-younger sibling’s-BFF’s-twice removed cousin. The latter is a complete Catfish. Once again, I quote from UrbanDictionary, to simplify it further – “Someone who pretends to be someone they’re not online to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” Catfish is a documentary that has captured this phenomenon and has spawned an entire TV series, also called Catfish.



“Each episode within the TV series is a different couple with a different story; Nev travels to wherever they live and uses background checks and research to uncover the truth.”


Enter Yaniv ‘Nev’ Schulman, a photographer from NYC in his late 20s. Nev has been corresponding with an 8-year old Abbey Pierce and her mother Angela. Abbey is an exceptional artist and paints for Nev (mostly she turns his photographs into stunning pieces of artwork), and Angela is the one that handles correspondence between them. So far, so good. You’re thinking what’s wrong? Seems pretty legit, right? And it does. Right up until half of Abbey’s family has added up Nev on Facebook, including 19-year old Megan, Abbey’s older sister who has just purchased a horse farm and moved 50 miles from home in Ishpeming, Michigan. Nev is awed by Megan who is quite stunning in her Facebook photos and they enter into an online romance. All of this is being documented by Nev’s brother Ariel ‘Rel’ Shulman and his friend/co-director Henry Joost. Now, I wouldn’t want to give away the entire plot of the film, however, a business trip gives the opportunity to these 3 men to go up to Michigan and knock on this family’s door and they are set for a major surprise.


MTV took up this concept and using the format of the documentary came up with Catfish: The TV Show. Hosted by Nev, and his filmmaker friend Max Joseph, the show is all about making people meet their catfish mates. People write to Nev about their online romances, and they meet with the Catfish team and tell them all about it. After a lot of research, Nev and Max contact the supposed Catfish ask him/her/them if they can arrange a meet. That’s the best part about this show. No one is forced into meeting them nor is surprised into a meeting. Only when both parties have consented do they meet. I guess that is what makes the meeting less awkward even though usually one of them is not who the other has been talking to, and generally the complete opposite. People come clean as to why they catfish-ed the other person. Sometimes tempers flare, sometimes they end up as friends, and very rarely do they find love in real life.



The film Catfish was criticized and its authenticity was argued but executive producer Tom Forman stresses that Catfish won’t just tell “…stories of deception. We’ve also stumbled into some love stories. We found people who are exactly who they say they are. We are putting those on television, too. We find people who are willing to get past an initial deception and really do make a connection at the end—in person and in real life.


Even though the authenticity of Catfish – the documentary is often questioned, the docu-film exposes the fake side of meeting people through the internet. Fake or not, it tells the story of a worldwide phenomenon, something every second person can relate too. Catfish: The TV Show does the same with people who are targeted by, well, Catfish.



One Response

  1. Hello. I'm Michella.
    a friends of mind told me many good about ur Tv Programme
    . I surely can use ur help…..there a profile on Facebook.
    a man. name. Jones Rahee..m-clams to be . works for United state ARMY…
    claming he want me Date him..
    but. the problem is…
    how can find out he a. genuine. or Fake ???
    I never-date anybody online before …
    there something now feeling right. of. Jones Raheem
    can you help me…please …
    thank you..
    and. GOD BLESSE U.
    My profile. name is. Michella Lynn davis

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