'Catfish:' Tracie Thoms & Superfan Sammie Bring An Episode That's Both Dark and Redeeming
The third season of Catfish seems determined to stand out from the two that came before it. Almost every episode has been different in some way, whether it was Max and Nev getting uncharacteristically angry or a business-oriented relationship being at the center. That trend continued and became even stronger in this week's Catfish , "Tracie & Sammie," showcasing a celebrity-fan relationship instead of a romance and getting very intense fast— but redeeming the Catfish-er just as quickly.
The episode also featured Catfish's most famous face so far, actress Tracie Thoms best known for Rent and Death Proof, who also appeared in an episode of Veep just a few weeks ago. Tracie became freaked out by a "superfan" named Sammie, who went to extreme lengths to get her attention, and turned to Nev and Max for help. Once we heard the full story, it was easy to see why Tracie, Nev, Max, The Glee Project contestant Marissa von Bleicken, and Tracie's producer friend Lotti were all thoroughly creeped out by Sammie.
What started as Tracie befriending a particularly passionate fan who helped to promote her films turned into a series of lies that ended with the made-up death of a made-up person. Well, it seemed to end, but Tracie continued to be afraid of Sammie, prompting her to seek out Catfish. It's not clear why exactly things escalated the way they did, but at some point, Sammie decided that one friendship with her favorite actress wasn't enough, so she created a Marissa-inspired Twitter account and one for someone named Reese. That's when things really took a turn.
Since all three girls were so supportive of her independent film, Tracie became friendly with them on Twitter, and she became especially close with Reese when she found out she had cancer. Suddenly, not too long after, Sammie messaged Tracie to tell her that Reese had died. She then sent a video of a coffin being carried out of a funeral home and tweeted a funeral car tag. Tracie did some Catfish-esque investigating of her own and found out that no one named Reese had a funeral there. When she asked Sammie for an obituary, she stopped responding and deleted all of her tweets. Things had gotten a little more intense between Sammie and the real Marissa, with Sammie taking it a step further and sending Marissa a bunch of fan mail, including very emotional poems.
When Max and Nev caught up with Sammie, they discovered that she had moved on to a new Twitter name, and was still following all of the people she had originally talked to. At their first meeting, Sammie's only explanation for her disturbing behavior was that it felt really good to get attention from a celebrity that you like, and she thought that by having two accounts she'd get double the interaction. She killed Reese off because she realized she had taken it too far.
By the next day, Sammie had dug deeper and come up with a much more emotional explanation for her actions that elicited more sympathy from Tracie and probably much of the audience. She was really just lonely. She didn't feel that there was anyone who cared about her and became attached to Tracie for the sister-like relationship she felt they shared. Reese then became the best friend and fellow fangirl that she didn't really have.
With everyone's encouragement, Sammie vowed to channel her talent and emotions into more productive means, like the videos that helped her get Tracie's attention in the first place. Nev told Sammie that her own life was very interesting and should be more than enough without making up fake personas. It was a pretty quick turnaround since Catfish was setting this episode up as the "dark and twisted" one, with Sammie as some crazy stalker lurking around the corner.
Instead, it was about as happy of an ending as Catfish can deliver. Tracie forgave Sammie, they hugged, and in her catchup Sammie was doing well and hadn't returned to her superfan ways. As for Tracie, things could not have ended any better. MTV basically gave her a free hour of publicity. The name of her movie was repeated over and over (it's Raze, by the way), she sang on camera, and even live-tweeted the whole episode with Nev by her side.
To be completely honest, it got pretty boring by the end. Nev basically promised us a thriller, and what we got was a mediocre drama. Sammie just needed attention. She got it and she's moved on. Tracie got publicity and Nev and Max got a slightly memorable episode of Catfish.
Images: MTV, chastitybites/Tumblr