Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"The Five Degrees Of 'Catfishing' "

If there are two things that make a television show great, it's that it keeps you coming back for more and gets better every episode. MTV's "Catfish" does both of those. A "catfish" is someone who pretends to be someone they're not using social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

What started off as a 2010 movie - about  a guy (Nev) who discovers the girl he has been corresponding with for months is actually a middle aged woman - came to the small screen this past fall. I was weary of the idea at first, but after seeing the movie and two minutes of the premiere show, I was  hooked.

The first episode centered around a female who found out the guy she had been talking to for almost a year was not the guy at all....but in fact a girl. The show has its trademarks/red flags. E-mails and instant message conversations are zoomed in on for added effect, with phrases such as "Baby, I love you", or "I want to be together forever" spread across the screen. I find this part extremely nauseating.

Almost every episode, as soon as the trio of the two filmmakers and the person pursuing their romantic interest close in on the pursued person's location, it is typically very underwhelming. In this case it was an incredibly small house with an unclear entrance. I'm convinced that if you are the "catfisher", you have to live in a very random location with a very hard to find entrance: "Is it this door? No, maybe this door. Wait is this a shed? Is this a garage? WHAT IS THIS?"

Then another trademark of the show being that  half the time the person who is being searched for doesn't answer the door but comes from the side of the house out of nowhere. The two meet, and the conflict is encountered. The initial shock is offset by a cool down period, where Nev and the hopeless romantic regroup to discuss the situation, and then revisit the person the next day.

The next day, the person either forgives the other and  tries to forge a relationship or decides there is no future, platonic or romantic.

All of these cases involve two kinds of people: a very  insecure, dishonest person and a very gullible and vulnerable person. The "catfisher" acts like a pro wrestling bad guy, convincing themselves and others that  their acts are justified. They either realize the err in their ways, or continue their life of dishonest online relationships. Most of the time, when they see there is no happy ending in sight, the lying party begins to paint themselves as the victim and admitting they have a problem while expecting the duped party to accept them for it. While it can work part of the time, the majority of the time it makes the other side bitter and embarrassed, causing the whole situation to be snuffed out like a candle.

Out of the first eight episodes, I can only recall one person actually being honest in terms of that it was actually them who the other person was talking to. The catch was that he never let on the extent of his obesity to the girl. So eighty-eight percent of the time on the show, the other party is an outright liar. Yes, I just did the math on that.

The most recent episode -*SPOILER ALERT*-  is about a guy named Tyler who wants to meet a very pretty blonde named Amanda. After realizing early on with assistance from Nev that Amanda has some red flags, Tyler begins to settle in his head. Except this time it turns out there is no Amanda, but he has been talking to a gay African American male.  While you always expect the twist, its the uncertainty of how severe it will be each episode that peaks your interest. It is typically "What the hell?" This episode was the first ever "WHAT.THE.HELL?!" After Tyler said he could deal with it even if it wasn't the girl he saw from online, part of me guessed it would be a guy. 

This sparked the invention of "The 5 Degrees of 'Catfishing'." It may not be Socrates-esque, but its 2013. Work with me here. Without further ado:

1. They were who we thought they were. 

This has only has happened once this season. We root for the hopeless romantic to succeed, but we have our doubts and know it'll likely not happen. If this happened every episode, no one would continue to watch the show. Reality television is like one big car crash. Secretly we want car crashes, not happy endings.

 2. Not exactly the same person, but in the ballpark.

Yeah, you aren't happy you were partially deceived, but it could be worse.

 3. Almost sort of bears a resemblance to them.

They might initially look like the original envisioning, but due to added weight, age or the fact that their pictures are  at least  a couple years old, its not the same person as once thought.

4. The "Messed Up Jesus".
 Looks nothing like them. Like this.

5. Are you freakin' kidding me?!

The person is not even the same gender. This has happened four times this season. Yes, fifty percent of the time the person is not even their originally stated gender. Had I been this foolish to have it happen to me like it did to Tyler, I would have punched the guy square in the face and walked off. No words, just bitter embarrassment partially relieved by assaulting the verbally lying party who would now be physically lying- on  the ground.

Now if this blog were a T.V. show, I'd be having "final thoughts" like Jerry Springer. I leave you with this sound advice if you so choose to involve yourself in an online relationship:

1. Skype is your friend, and if you are dumb enough to not use  what is readily available to you through the miracle of technology, then shame on you.

2. Google image searching, like Skype, is your other friend. It's not very hard to use, folks. The truth hurts - but finding out the hot babe you've been talking to in a very personal way for months and months is a dude- hurts more.

Power Ranking the First Eight Episodes ( talk amongst yourselves.)
1 being "WHAT.THE.HELL."
8 being "Yeah I expected that."

1. Tyler and Amanda (episode 8)
2. Jasmine and Mike (episode 4)
3. Sunny and Jamison (episode 1)
4. Kya and Alyx (episode 6)
5. Trina and Scorpio (episode 2)
6. Jarrod and Abby (episode 5)
7. Joe and Kari Ann (episode 7)
8. Kim and Matt (episode 3)

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