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Nev and Max note  at work helping their hopeful to see if her online beau is legit
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Catfish is an MTV reality TV series which explores the downsides and lies of online dating. The show is hosted by Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, and they travel across the US with their hopeful of the week to see whether or not the other participant in the online relationship is real or if they are, in fact, a "catfish". We've seen couples who have been talking for a few months and some for years.

The show is based on Nev's experience on being Catfished, which he made into a movie before the show premiered in 2012.

This is how a typical Catfish episode goes:

  • Nev and Max are fooling around in their hotel room before going through their email.
  • Nev and Max read the email from the hopeful, explaining how they met the person online, then it became more personal and decided to pursue a relationship. The hopeful wants to see the person they are taking to (webcam), but is provided excuses like, "My webcam isn't working" or "I'm too tired" or the hopeful wants to meet up, but gets stood up.
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  • Nev and Max go to the hopeful's hometown and the hopeful explains more in person about the person he/she has been talking to.
  • Nev and Max go to a cafe to begin their investigation, with the information the hopeful has given them.
    • They image search the person's profile picture.
    • If the image search doesn't work, then they run the phone number of the person the hopeful has been talking to online.
    • They look for the person's social media profile to look for friends to see if the person is legit.
  • Nev and Max return to the hopeful to give what they found online, this is where the hopeful finds out that the person he/she has been talking to is definitely a catfish.
  • Nev calls the catfish to see where they can meet up.
  • Nev, Max and the hopeful travel to meet the catfish, and this is the big reveal.
  • They confront the Catfish to see why they Catfished the hopeful, which sometimes is quite sad, (example, the catfish was bullied in the past and they set up the fake profile to make themselves better), and sometimes the catfish is a right dick.
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  • After the episode ends, Nev and Max check in on both the hopeful and the catfish to see what has happened in their lives since filming wrapped.

Catfish has gotten popular over the years and is even an integral part of pop culture. A Brazilian version of the show has been created, and the term 'catfishing' has been added to the Webster's dictionary.


Catfish features examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Max was absent for a few episodes in Season 4, he had to make a movie.
    • Same for Nev in the sixth season to be by his wife's side when his daughter was born.
  • Anti-Hero: Justin catfished Artis in Season 2 was because he was actually in a relationship with another girl, whilst talking to Jess (the girl Justin was pretending to be) at the same time. Justin came out looking to kick Artis' ass, whilst slowly clapping his hands.
  • Asshole Victim: There have been times where the hopeful has been a complete dick, to Nev and Max, and the catfish who actually had good intentions.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Carmen reached out to Nev and Max to help her cousin Antwane to find Tony. Carmen was revealed to be Tony, and used a deep voice to talk to him, all because he made fun of her.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At least 90% of episodes end like this on Catfish. The Catfish has been exposed, and vows not to catfish again, but the hopeful who was hoping that the person in the pictures is real, but it isn't.
  • Break the Cutie: Nev and Max does this to the hopeful when addressing the red flags that the person they are talking isn’t legit.
  • Carpet of Virility: Nev's chest is so hairy, he might as well be the Trope Codifier. This can be seen whenever he has a Shirtless Scene.
  • Confession Cam: Averted, but the Untold Stories episodes features these.
  • Dating Service Disaster: The whole point of the show.
  • Heroic BSoD: Happens to the hopeful when they find out that the person they've been talking to isn't actually them.
  • Fanservice:
    • Nev and Max, who sometimes get Shirtless Scenes and most of it comes from Nev, who has a Carpet of Virility.
    • Some of the hopefuls are not bad to look at themselves. An example would be Season 1 hopeful Tyler. One of his pictures was him shirtless.
    • The fake pictures that the catfishes use are mostly attractive models.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Nev and Max are really close and it is really evident when you watch an episode.
  • Mama Bear: An episode featured a mother contacting Nev and Max about her son, thinking her son was being catfished. He wasn't.
    • The Catfish's mother in one episode practically had a screaming match with Nev and Max defending her daughter's actions. She (the catfish) bought an engagement ring with the money the hopeful sent to her, and said that the hopeful proposed to her.
  • Jerkass: Some of the catfishes have been real assholes, and some of the hopefuls aren't really nice too:
    • Jen was being catfished by a guy named Brian, who didn't show any regard for her feelings.
    • Jacqueline (or known as Tracey Barbie) was using a girl named Falesha's pictures and practically ruined her life, and thought it was funny.
    • John was being catfished by a dude named Adam, who did so that John would stay away from Adam's girlfriend. Adam claimed that he was the 'catfish king'.
    • Season 4's Hundra, who was the hopeful in this episode. She was talking to a girl named Emily, then Nev and Machine Gun Kelly (who filled in for Max) found a woman named Geralyn who was associated with Emily, who's real name name was Melanie. The two met up with Geralyn and Melanie, who revealed that Hundra came to them so Hundra can be on the show.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: This season 5 episode was quite weird, even for reality TV. An 18 year old girl named Kayla contacted Nev and Max to tell them about a woman who had been talking to her dead father from beyond the grave, but the woman couldn't meet up. One would suspect that this person is a catfish con artist, but she was real. And even explained a lot more things to Kayla and her Aunty Sharon. This even spooked Nev and Max and prompted a a conversation about belief, the spirit world, and religion. Kayla was even able to move on with her life after this.
  • Silver Fox: Max sports silver hair and is not bad to look at.
  • Special Guest: Some episodes featured celebrities to come along with Nev and Max (or to replace one of them if Nev and Max are absent) to help the hopeful.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: There have been times when a hopeful is talking to their love interest, who are the opposite sex. When it comes to the reveal, it turns out that love interest is the same gender as the hopeful. The first time would be Tyler and Amanda from the first season, Amanda turned out to be a gay guy named Aaron.
  • Wham Shot: The reveal on the real identity of the Catfish. Most episodes, Nev would be the first to see (sometimes the catfish would be uncomfortable on camera at first).
  • Wham Line: The one of the most famous wham lines would be:
    Carmen: (in a deep male voice) "The Tony voice". (Which she used to catfish her cousin Antwane).
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