An Old School 'Catfish' Goes Meta and Is Even More Messed Up Than Usual
Like most of MTV's reality shows, Catfish manages to be entertaining, shocking, and depressing all at the same time. In this week's "Antwane & Tony," Catfish did not disappoint, bringing the usual drama as well as a few unique twists. In this episode, one of the strangest revelations came before the catfisher's identity was even revealed — the rest came later. The entire three-year relationship between the central couple occurred without the Internet, computers, or even texting. As the tragically unavailable Max Joseph put it, "this whole episode could’ve taken place in 1990."
Let's start with the basics. So how did Antwane and Tony carry out Catfish's most old school lie-filled relationship? Through a phone chat line. Max and host Nev Schulman found Antwane through his cousin Carmen, who was concerned about the overt sketchiness of his relationship with a man named Tony. Antwane met Tony after calling one of those late-night chat lines that only air commercials after midnight and the two hit it off. They continued their relationship exclusively over the phone, but Tony's private number meant only he could initiate calls. So if you've ever rolled your eyes at someone on Catfish for falling for a fake photo, this episode will probably make you pull your hair out.
At first, it seemed that the lack of computers would be the only thing setting Antwane's story apart from any other Catfish tale. Nev and Max did what they could with the little information they had, eventually forming a theory that he's actually in jail and finding three possible addresses for Tony Thomas through their standard Google method. They visited the first two addresses with no success, finding confused people who didn't know anyone named Tony.
At the third address, an abandoned house, it seemed like the search was over. However there were still 30 minutes left, so a big twist had to be coming. Standing outside the house, Antwane's self-reported best friend Carmen revealed that she was Tony all along. Antwone's three year relationship was the product of an old grudge and Carmen's desire to be famous.
It's confusing to understand at first, since Carmen was the one to contact Nev and Max. But apparently three years ago Antwone insulted Carmen in front of a large group of people and knowing that he likes to call chat lines, Carmen began calling Antwone from a blocked number, disguising her voice and pretending to be a guy named Tony. Antwone is not the first person Carmen has catfished, and she decided to turn herself in to MTV in the hopes that the show would offer her a few minutes of fame.
And boy were Nev and Max pissed when they realized that. Catfish got even more meta than usual as Nev and Max kept the cameras away from Antwone and had a producer drive Carmen home separately. Max got sassier than we've ever seen him, sarcastically telling Nev that Carmen had decided to bestow their show with the honor of her presence, after she claimed to be able to get on whatever show she wants. After a very hostile conversation with Carmen, another producer even pulled Max and Nev outside and basically told them to play nice for the cameras.
This would usually be the part where the catfisher reveals their true motives and we start to sympathize with them, but Carmen really didn't do much to help her case. All she admitted to was being a pathological liar who was hurt by her cousin's mean comments and decided to use her long-running revenge scheme to achieve the fame she'd always wanted. Apparently it worked to some extent on Max and Nev, however, who both hugged her and were much nicer when they left.
In the video chat epilogue, we find out that Antwone and Carmen still aren't speaking, but Tony has a new job and is looking for real love, while Carmen has stopped catfishing people and started exercising instead—though how exactly going to the gym effectively replaced manipulating family members we'll never know.
Overall, it was a very educational episode of Catfish. We learned that catfishing doesn't require the Internet, some people really like to hold a grudge, and if you use Max and Nev to get on TV, they will spend at least ten minutes of screen time being really mad at you.
Images: MTV, letusdreamforever/Tumblr