|Catfish: The TV Show|
by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||200 (list of episodes)|
Webcam (episodes 148–)
|Running time||41 to 42 minutes|
|Distributor||ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks|
|Picture format||1080i (16:9 HDTV)|
|Original release||November 12, 2012 –|
Catfish: The TV Show (often shortened to Catfish) is an American reality-based documentary television series airing on MTV about the truths and lies of online dating. The series is based on the 2010 film Catfish and premiered on November 12, 2012. It is currently co-hosted by Nev Schulman and Kamie Crawford. Max Joseph served as a co-host for the first seven seasons of the show and his last episode aired on August 22, 2018. Crawford was a guest co-host in numerous episodes of season 7 and joined the main cast in the show's 8th season, alongside Schulman.
In May 2018, filming of season 7 was suspended due to sexual misconduct allegations brought against Nev Schulman until the suspension was lifted after the report of sexual misconduct was found to be "not credible".
In 2020 MTV and Wondery began releasing episodes as podcasts under the title Catfish: The Podcast, with the first episode released on November 26, 2020.
"They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank God for the catfish because we would be ... boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin." —from Catfish
Why the term "catfish" is used to describe people who portray someone else online
On the internet, a "catfish" is someone who creates fake personal profiles on social sites using someone else's pictures and false biographical information to pretend to be someone else. These "catfish" usually intend to trick an unsuspecting person or more into falling in love with them. The term "catfish" is derived from the title of the previously-mentioned 2010 documentary, in which filmmaker Schulman discovers that the woman with whom he'd been carrying on an online relationship had not been honest in describing herself.
MTV and the Catfish film's producers, Schulman and Joseph, help people who are emotionally entangled with someone they have never met in real life. Each episode is an investigation into whether or not the other participant in the virtual relationship is legitimate or if he or she is, in fact, a "catfish". Some couples have been communicating for a few months — others, for years.
Nev claims that he has received requests from people asking him for his help in determining whether or not their online-only lovers are lying or truthful about their identities. In each episode, the hosts help a different person with a different story, travelling to his or her residence and using background checks and research to uncover the truth. Nev and Max contact the other person to arrange a first meeting between the two virtual lovers, then document how both people are impacted. Schulman said at the Television Critics Association press tour in August 2012 that it is not all about pulling the rug out from under people, explaining:
Whether or not two people are totally lying to each other and it turns out to be a huge disaster, that's only the first part of the story. We then want to know why they are doing it, who they are, what they are feeling, what led them to this place, and why that resonates with thousands of other young people who have the same feelings, who don't have someone to talk to or don't know how to express themselves.
The original presentation of the program was in the hands of Nev Schulman and Max Joseph for the first seven seasons. Joseph left the program in August 2018, halfway through the seventh season. For the remaining episodes of the seventh season that aired in 2019, he was replaced as presenter by alternate presenters including singer Elle King, basketball player Nick Young, actress Kimiko Glenn, model Slick Woods, actress Tallulah Willis and presenter Kamie Crawford. When the eighth season started in January 2020, Crawford, who previously appeared as one of the alternate presenters, was appointed as the permanent new presenter alongside Schulman.
The show presents the "hopeful" as the one who initiates contact in an attempt to discover the true identity of his or her online romance, or the "catfish". Some of the show's casting calls do solicit stories from hopefuls, and casting director Michael Esposito explained in August 2015 that the show can receive more than a hundred applications a day.
A 2013 Hollywood.com report, however, explained that despite the broadcast show being structured as a search by the hopeful for the identity of the catfish, it is usually the catfish who makes the first contact with MTV. Producers then proceed to gather information about the deception from the catfish and contact the hopeful afterwards. For legal reasons, all persons involved on the series sign contracts agreeing to appear on camera prior to the episode even entering production. In Season 3's Miranda and Camryn episode, the catfish did change their mind about meeting the hopeful, and only appeared via Skype.
The hosts are given no information about the catfish, and while the catfish has already agreed to appear on the show, he or she does not know when or how the hosts will be looking for him or her. Nev Schulman explained more about the reverse-engineering in an August 2014 interview:
A lot of the stories that we get come from the catfish side of things. People who feel so terrible [...] that they've been lying to a friend or a lover on the internet for a long time. They want to come clean, but they fear if they simply told the truth, the other person would [...] be very upset that they've been lied to and deceived, and likely discard them. And so they're hopeful that by coming on the show [...] maybe we can facilitate some kind of amicable exchange, that they can be heard, explain themselves in a more objective and non-judgmental way. So [the producers] orchestrate very delicately, and staying out of it as much as possible, a scenario by which [...] the hopeful reaches out to me [...]. And so [the hosts] just pick up from there. [The hopeful has] no idea of course that the other person's already expressed interest in meeting. And the [catfish] doesn't know that we're actually doing it. They just sorta think maybe it could happen. So they don't know when or why or how. So it's tricky, but everything is real. The feelings are real, the relationships are real. We haven't created any scenarios, we don't tell people what to say or do. It's very unpredictable.
Main article: List of Catfish episodes
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||12||November 12, 2012||February 25, 2013|
|2||16||June 25, 2013||October 15, 2013|
|3||10||May 7, 2014||July 9, 2014|
|4||19||February 25, 2015||August 30, 2015|
|5||20||February 24, 2016||September 21, 2016|
|6||20||March 1, 2017||August 30, 2017|
|7||40||January 3, 2018||August 29, 2019|
|8||TBA||January 8, 2020||TBA|
There have been two spin-offs of the Catfish concept. The first, Catfish: Trolls, was hosted by celebrity artist Charlamagne tha God and featured online personalities confronting trolls who had been harassing them online. It aired for one three-episode season in the middle of 2018. The second spinoff, Ghosted: Love Gone Missing, is hosted by The Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay and celebrity rapper Travis Mills and features stories about people trying to find former friends or romantic partners after having been ghosted.
The film Catfish was criticized and its authenticity questioned. Executive producer Tom Forman stresses that the TV version won't just tell "stories of deception. We've also stumbled into some love stories. We found people who are exactly who they say they are. We are putting those on television, too. We find people who are willing to get past an initial deception and really do make a connection at the end — in person and in real life. That's been really heartwarming. So I think, when we set out, we really don't know how it's going to end: good, bad, or in the middle somewhere".
|Country||Name||Host(s)||Channel||No. of seasons||Broadcast|
|Colombia||Catfish Colombia||Diego Saenz, Sebastián Parra||MTV||2||September 10, 2014– November 5, 2015|
|Chile||Espías del Amor||Julio César Rodríguez (1–), Andrés Alemparte (1–), César Antonio Campos (3–), Marcelo Arismendi (1–2)||Chilevisión||3||October 27, 2015– present|
|Brazil||Catfish Brasil||Ciro Sales, Ricardo Gadelha||MTV||3||August 31, 2016– October 11, 2017|
|Mexico||Catfish Mexico||Chapu Garza, José Luis Badalt||MTV||1||March 1, 2018– present|
|United Kingdom||Catfish UK||Julie Adenuga, Oobah Butler||MTV||1||April 21, 2021– present|
In January 2016, MTV began casting a proposed UK version of the show through online ads that specifically targeted the catfish, not the hopeful: "Tired of keeping secrets from your online love? Come clean" and "Are you a secret Catfish? It's time to come clean". The project was cancelled, but Schulman has said he would like to make a pan-European version.
In August 2019, Network 10 chose to cancel its Australian version of Catfish which was going to be hosted by Casey Donovan.