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In 2010, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman made a documentary about a guy who falls for a girl online only to discover that she's not who she claimed to be. The concept has since been turned into a reality TV show where Nev Schulman, the star of the film, helps people connect with their internet boyfriend or girlfriend for the first time. The first episode premiered last night and you can watch it in its entirety here.
Some people were skeptical about just how real Catfish was as a documentary, and I'll admit, I'm among them. But the movie was entertaining and thought provoking, so a follow-up TV series that explores the topic of internet romance from other people's perspectives seemed like a good idea. The first episode builds the suspense from the start by following Sunny up the driveway of her internet boyfriend Jamison, who she's about to meet for the first time. Immediately, something appears to be wrong. And then we go back to the start of this whole investigation. Watch the episode below.
Couple of random comments about the episode (spoilers if you haven't watched the above episode!)
Trusting Jamison at his word is one thing, but I don't understand how Sunny didn't notice that he didn't sound like a grown man when she was talking to him on the phone.The fact that the "him" was actually a "her" was a twist, though.
I like that Nev and Max did their own research and then reported their findings to Sunny to prepare her for what might be happening. Of course, she was a little defensive about the things they said because she wanted this to work out. She's not looking to be embarrassed or disappointed, but at least they gave her some idea that there were red flags. That shows their sensitivity to the situation, rather than aiming for ultimate shock value.
The side-drama with her sister felt a little staged, but it raised the interesting topic of how Sunny and Jamison met.
I have to wonder what MTV and/or the producers of this show did to make the actual reveal and confrontation happen. Because, you'd think someone lying about who they were for eight months would be a little less willing to come forward and admit it on camera. Maybe she was hoping to come clean about it and end it finally, or maybe she wanted to be on TV. The whole thing was strange (I had the same issue with the movie).
I liked the follow-up at the end where Nev sat down to talk to Chelsea after the face-off between Chelsea and Sunny. At the very least, we were given the opportunity to understand why she did what she did. And staging another meeting between Sunny and Chelsea to talk it out once Sunny had a chance to cool down offered a nice bit of closure to this odd story.
The later follow-up was great too, especially getting to see Sunny get to meet the real RJ.
Finally, like the movie, this is a strange but fascinating look into the world of online relationships and just how different reality can turn out to be from what's been presented. The show seems to approach the subject with humor and sensitivity though, and I think that's really important here. It doesn't seem like Nev and Max are setting out to embarrass anyone here, though that may be in the cards for people who lie or are lied to. Either way, I like the approach. Entertaining and thought-provoking, just like the movie.
Catfish airs Mondays at 11/10c on MTV.