MTV’s ‘Catfish’ TV Show Succeeds Where The Film Failed


Sometimes a TV show really can be better than the film from whence it came. 
In 2010, Nev Shulman debuted his documentary, Catfish, which followed his journey to meet the girl he fell in love with on Facebook. Despite the marketing campaign for the film, which positioned it as some horror flick with a dangerous or paranormal twist, Shulman’s journey (SPOILER ALERT!) ended in a farmhouse with a middle-aged mother and wife who’d been creating false Facebook personas to stave off her own loneliness and boredom. It was an unexpected twist, for sure, but where audiences were expecting pure, radical shock and awe, we found our surprise coupled with something truly, deeply sad: a person whose life was so unlike the life they wanted that they felt the need to create another. When translated into a television show with a premise based up front on that emotional concept, the product is something that feels as if it has the momentum to move the discovery forward, instead of wallowing in the shock of the 180-degree turnaround. 

The first episode of Catfish: The TV Show, focuses on Sunny, a young woman who’s in an online relationship with a male model in L.A. … who also works at Chelsea Lately and writes for the show … and also writes cue cards? What an overachiever! In truth, as most viewers probably guessed from the premise of the show, this wonderful, magical Skype-allergic RJ guy is actually an 18 year-old girl named Chelsea who started the account as a means of revenge against someone who bullied her on Facebook. The lie started to consume her because she felt like an outcast in real life, and her online model persona afforded her the means to make easy connections with other girls online as she explored her bisexuality. And that’s where the show truly manages to surpass its cinematic source material. 

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Anyone ever been in an online relationship and found out that everything the other person told them was a lie?

(Not me. An interesting lesbian online dating horror story.)