Hours are spent on the telephone and internet talking to your dream partner. They are attractive, funny and interesting to talk to. You didn’t meet them at a coffee shop, book store or even through a mutual friend.
Social networking was the cupid behind this love connection.
The one seething question that ever presently lingers in the back of your psyche is if the person behind the Facebook profile and the voice on the phone really is who they claim to be.
In the season premiere of MTV’s “Catfish”, Nev Schulman and his buddy filmmaker, Max Joseph, continue on their quest to help online lovers meet each other in real life. Some results are positive and other times, they discover that the people behind the profiles are catfish — individuals who hide behind fake online profiles to conceal their true identity.
In Monday’s episode, we meet a young man, Joe, who has been online dating a woman, Kari Ann Peniche, who was the 2003 winner of Miss United States Teen.Three months into the relationship and suspecting things are too good to be true, Joe contacts Schulman for help.
To start their investigation, Schulman and Joseph get in touch with one of Joe’s friends, Rose. She admits she hasn’t met with Kari Ann personally but has spoken with her in the past on the phone about modeling opportunities. The two charismatic investigators also contact Kari Ann’s very own agent. As Schulman and Joseph begin to dig deeper into Kari Ann’s history, pieces start to come together.
“Catfish” is fairly easy to get into since the plot and objective is clear from the start. Schulman made a documentary in 2010 about his own personal dealings with his very own “catfish.” Now he helps others who write to him in similar situations.
The show could easily be thought of as self indulgent. It would not be difficult to initially see Schulman as this hero trying to save the day and expose liars. However, that does not seem to be the motive of the show at all. While it does sound a tad unbelievable, the last 15 minutes of this particular episode show that there is almost a compulsion some people develop to hide behind these fake online profiles. They spin a web of lies so intricate that they actually get their kicks from leading people on. The lies and deceit can go on to ruin relationships and lives.
Schulman’s series does have credibility and doesn’t really seem scripted or staged. We got to see Joe’s parents and a bit of his home life in Warsaw, New York. However, a few issues were a bit questionable and should have been caught sooner.
It is extremely unlikely that a famous model (Kari Ann’s) personal phone number would be readily available on her Facebook profile. This should have raised a red flag to Schulman and Joseph immediately. Also, it is doubtful that internet lovers Joe and Kari Ann would be okay without ever speaking on a video chat like Skype. We learn early in the episode that Joe does not own a webcam but is able to video chat at a local cafe. It is questionable as to why he never attempted to video chat from the cafe with Kari Ann.
The episode ends with a surprise outcome and an even more shocking epilogue. Schulman and Joseph, without a doubt, have good intentions and make the show lighthearted while still showing the sometimes darker and taboo side of internet dating.