|Catfish: The TV Show|
by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes||218 (list of episodes)|
Webcam (episodes 148–)
|Running time||41 to 42 minutes|
|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 co-hosted by Nev Schulman and Kamie Crawford. Max Joseph served as a co-host for the show's first seven seasons, saying his goodbye in the episode that 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.
"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
The term "catfish" originated as the title of a 2010 documentary in which filmmaker Schulman discovers that the woman with whom he'd been having an online relationship had not been honest in describing herself. The term has since come to be used to refer to someone who creates a fake personal profile on social sites using someone else's pictures and false biographical information to pretend to be someone else, usually intending to trick someone into falling in love with them.
In each episode, Schulman and Joseph, first receive a request by someone who is emotionally entangled with someone they have never met in real life. Then they usually travel to the person's residence and do online research to try to uncover the truth about whether the other participant in the virtual relationship is legitimate or a "catfish", and make them meet either way. Some of these couples have been communicating for a few months—others, for years. Schulman has said that the show 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 program was hosted by 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 by alternate presenters, including singer Elle King, model / actress Selita Ebanks, basketball player Nick Young, actress Kimiko Glenn, model Slick Woods, actress Tallulah Willis, and presenter Kamie Crawford. When the eighth season began in January 2020, Crawford was chosen as the permanent new presenter.
The show presents the "hopeful" as the one who initiates contact in an attempt to discover the true identity of their online romance, or "catfish". Some of the show's casting calls solicit stories from hopefuls. Casting director Michael Esposito has said that the show has received more than 100 applications a day.
According to a 2014 Hollywood.com report, 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, everyone involved in the series signs a contract agreeing to appear on camera before the episode enters production. In Season 3's Miranda and Camryn episode, the catfish changed their mind about meeting the hopeful, and appeared only by Skype.
The hosts are given no information about the catfish, and while the catfish has agreed to appear on the show, they do not know when or how the hosts will be looking for them. Schulman has said of the show's reverse-engineering:
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.
|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||82||January 8, 2020||October 3, 2023|
There have been two "Catfish" spin-offs. 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 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 10, 2018|
|Mexico||Catfish Mexico||Chapu Garza, José Luis Badalt||MTV||1||March 1, 2018– present|
|United Kingdom||Catfish UK||Julie Adenuga (1), Oobah Butler (1-), Nella Rose (2-)||MTV||3||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.
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