When 'Catfish' Returns for Season 4, Nev & Max Should Make a Few Slight Changes
Who knew that when Nev Schulman, Max Joseph, and their buddies made a documentary about how Nev was duped on the internet, it would lead to a television show that would last for at least four seasons? Has a documentary ever inspired a TV series that lasted as long? (Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me spawned the excellent 30 Days, but that only lasted three seasons, so Catfish is still in the lead.) But while Catfish: The TV Show has inspired many marathon couch-viewings, it can be improved. There are certain things I'd like to see when Catfish returns for Season 4. The show has time to make these changes, too. A premiere date hasn't been announced yet for the fourth season, but it probably won't begin until spring 2015. In fact, the show still has a casting announcement up on its website. That means there's plenty of time to heed my advice. Basically, at this point, my complaints all stem from the fact that the show still acts like catfishing is unheard of. We're four seasons in, so it'd be okay if the series acknowledges that people often create fake online personas with the express interest of deceiving other people on the internet. They shouldn't seem so shocked when it happens, and here's how they can do it.
Nev Needs to Show More Tough Love
I know that compassion for anyone and everyone is kind of Nev's thing. And he's especially empathetic towards the people being catfished, because he's been there. But, c'mon, Nev, you can't be that naïve anymore. When someone says their online boyfriend doesn't have a phone, can't do Skype, and is in some way prohibited to traveling a small way to meet up in person, Nev should say that the situation seems sketchy. His ever-hopeful, well-it-could-be-true optimism is wearing thin.
Less Footage of Googling, Please
There's an obligatory scene in every episode of Catfish where Nev and Max sit down and do a little "research," meaning they talk each other through typing names into Google and Facebook (and, if they're feeling high-tech, Google Reverse Image Search). It is undoubtedly the worst part of any episode. If all they're doing is Googling, it makes the catfishees look bad for not searching for themselves. Plus, that scene is usually followed by one where they sit the catfishee down and rehash everything they found, so it's basically redundant. And are they really using the footage from Max's still camera that he's always pointing at the computer? Is it that easy to make a television show?
More Time with the Catfish
Instead of showing how the catfish is uncovered — which is basically the same in every episode
— the series should spend more time with the catfish themselves. To me, the most fascinating part is getting to the root of why the catfish felt deception was necessary
— which is not exactly the same every time
— and that part is often crammed into the end of the episode. To me, that's when Catfish is at its best. Nev's empathy works to get the truth out of the deceivers, who could easily be put on the defensive with someone a little more disapproving. It's always interesting to see if the deceived
are able to find forgiveness or pity, or if they stay angry (which they have every right to be). There's a lot of human emotion at work there, and it's better than any point-and-shoot camera footage of a Google search.Images: Pamela Littky/MTV; Giphy (2); MTV