‘Catfish’ Has Secrets, But Nev & Max Are Realer Than You Think
If you watch Catfish, I'm sure you've wondered just how real it really is. At times it definitely seems phony, for example, when Nev Schulman and Max Joseph figure out through Google that a person isn't who they say they are in 30 seconds while the victim has been talking to the catfish for three years and has no idea. Well, it turns out that Catfish 's Nev and Max are realer than you think, but that's just because they're left out of all of the intense behind-the-scenes production that occurs before filming even begins. Vulture spoke with Catfish's executive producer Marshall Eisen who explained how everything goes down. As Vulture puts it, "Think of it not as destroying the magic but as proof that all that anxiety is real."
The most surprising thing to find out about Catfish is that the catfish are generally the ones that contact the show in the first place, not the victims. Eisen says, "It’s often the catfish we hear from first because they’re looking to unburden themselves. It’s not always the case, but it probably happens more than people realize." The show's producers contact everyone involved before filming begins and has everyone sign a waiver. When you see Nev and Max show up at someone's door, they aren't bombarding the person. "We can’t do that and won’t do that." Eisen goes on to explain that just because someone signs a waiver, they aren't guaranteed to be on the show. "They’re real people and they’re exposing themselves, making themselves vulnerable, and we’re never going to force them to do it."
Now all of that probably sounds like a big bummer, like you found out the entire show is fake. Not exactly. What you watch on the show happens the way it appears for the most part. Nev and Max are at the center of the show and they're left completely in the dark about all of the pre-production research and planning. The producers know how things are going to end up but Eisen says, "Our whole mantra for the guys is, ‘If you can’t figure it out, just go with it and see where it takes you.'" In an episode titled "Antwane & Tony," he says, "they’re completely wrong and they lead the hopeful into a situation they didn’t see coming, and they feel really bad about it. It’s a total surprise to them what’s going to happen. Sometimes they get really flustered by what they see."
See! It is real! It might be implied that the person being catfished is the one that always contacts Nev and Max or that the catfish is surprised to hear from Nev during that first cell phone call (I always thought they sounded suspicious. Catfish might be good liars, but they're horrible voice actors.), but the search is real. You can rest assured that when Nev and Max find someone through Google image search or Facebook messages, they really are working things out.
Images: MTV; Catfish/Facebook