An end of an era is upon us — Max Joseph, trusty Catfish co-host, is leaving the show once and for all after seven seasons, his last episode airing on Aug. 29. There's already speculations swirling among the fan base regarding who will replace Max next season on Catfish, but unfortunately, no answers are set in stone just yet.
However, a version of Catfish without Max isn't unprecedented — host Nev Schulman was left without his right hand man a few times in the past while Max worked on other projects. Guest hosts included YouTube mega-star Tyler Oakley and rapper Angel Haze, just to name a few. And Nev's wife, Laura Perlongo, has made herself much more visible this season, stepping in to help from time to time.
Some fans seem to think that the show has been prepping Laura to take over in Max's spot after the longtime co-host makes his departure, but there's really no way yet of knowing what will happen. One thing that's for sure — the fanbase is definitely split. Some love seeing Nev and Laura as a Catfish-catching husband and wife duo, while others aren't thrilled with it turning into a family affair. And some even appear to have an inexplicable animosity toward Laura herself, even though she pretty much did the same things Max any time she's appeared.
Laura herself chimed in on the whirlwind of opinions that swarmed social media after Max's imminent exit was announced. She tweeted that some people were being "crazy mean" and "sexist" about the possibility of her becoming a permanent co-host, and also seemed to confirm that that wasn't the plan, anyway. "I'm just the rebound, not your new stepmom," she wrote.
People really do need to chill. We all love Max, but come on, now. Laura will likely still be around — she's Nev's wife and it's essentially Nev's show, after all — but her comments suggest she's never been poised to become the new Max, no matter what critics might think.
An endless cycle of guest hosts, like the ones employed when Max took his hiatus, would certainly keep things fun and interesting. It also wouldn't lock any one human being into the position of trying to live up to Max's status, which would be nearly impossible to do after this long.
Guest hosts might be the right choice, even just for a little while, as the show gauges who's popular with viewers and vibes with Nev as they work to uncover the truth behind sketchy social media situations. But there's always the possibility that MTV will try and cook up a plan to replace him with someone completely before the next season even starts.
Max's departure is heartbreaking for fans of the show, and not just because it leaves an unknown void in the MTV series that as of now is not close to being filled. For years, he's been a voice of reason for everyone who appeared on Catfish. Nev is quick to tell hard truths, and even get a little irritated at times. But he's also always seemed like the more optimistic, idealistic half of the two. There's nothing quite like the devastation of a good old-fashioned Max eye roll when someone utters the dreaded phrase, "Actually, we've never video chatted."
Max manages to be cranky, skeptical, and perpetually exasperated while at the same time remaining fiercely protective of the people he's trying to help. He's felt like an older brother who wants the best for everyone on the show, but isn't afraid to tell them when they're being unrealistic. The loss of Max is a loss for the show, but it'll recover. And no matter how unclear the future of Catfish might look, Max will always be an icon of telling it like it is.