This season’s ‘Catfish: The TV Show,’ which premiered Tuesday, June 25 at 10 p.m. on MTV features so many OMG moments that it is best to analyze each episode with equally expressive reactions. And not just text-based or still image reactions — GIF reactions.
I understand that on later episodes in a season, Nev and Max read submissions in a hotel room, assuming they’re on the road from past Catfish travels. But why are they starting out in a hotel room? I like to imagine that they enjoy some hijinks in hotel rooms, but that’s just my dirty mind at play.
Nev looks a bit gaunt. And Max still has that stupid digital camera for no reason.
This season kicks off with tall order as Nev chooses to help Cassie meet her fiance Steven Gomez, whom she has never met face-to-face. After two and a half years of chatting online and talking (and more) on the phone, Cassie proposed to Steve, and he accepted.
Cassie says that Steve, a music artist and producer, is often busy on the road or in the studio working, which limits their communication. Of the six pictures Cassie has of Steve, most are shirtless selfies. Max says that Cassie’s fiance seems a bit “fishy.” Doesn’t he mean catfishy?
Cassie seems like a sweet, young woman, but it seems obvious that someone who takes half-naked shots of her ridiculously good-looking self would have more than six pictures of herself.
The first of this season’s many, many travel montages is just as twee as always. For example, regarding a pigeon inside the Miami Airport, Nev says, “That’s what I call a frequent flier.”
“Don’t you want to have sex?” says Max to Nev in a context that I prefer not to give because now I’m officially shipping them.
Nev and Max meet Cassie at her home, and they sit down to talk about her journey. In 2010, Cassie’s father was killed while visiting family in Haiti. He stood up to kidnappers who arrived to snatch a young relative in order to collect ransom. After that tragic event, Cassie went into a downward spiral, neglecting school, drinking excessively, and socializing with the wrong sorts of people. However, once she met Steve, who contacted her via Facebook, his presence and encouragement helped her turn her life around.
Nev and Max, henceforth collectively referred to as Nevax, return to their temporary hotel room home to execute their highly sophisticated investigation. The search begins with — no, not a G****e search — something much more legitimate as an investigative tool, Shazam. Nevax analyzes Steve’s songs that he sent to Cassie using the song-searching app. Shazam may be a sponsor, unlike G****e, but seriously, an unknown rapper named S-KILLA would not under any circumstances be on Shazam.
G****e Image Search time is next, famous for letting people know that this resource is available to everyone, and not just two hipster filmmakers from New York City. Lo and behold, of course, the photos of “Steven Gomez” are those of a model named Deonee Arnez thereby revealing the Steve Gomez Facebook to be phony.
My favorite part of the show is right before Nev and Max, now collectively referred to as Nevax, reveal their Google-fu results, when they hang out with the subject and his or her friends. This time, Nev joins Cassie and her best friend Gladys for a pedicure at a local salon. This portion of the show is fun for its depiction of the subject’s friends spitting truths about how shady their friend’s Internet relationship is. Gladys and Cassie have been friends since preschool, and although Gladys appreciates how Cassie has returned to her old self after “meeting” Steve, she questions whether proposing marriage to him is wise.
Cassie’s face is blank when Nev and Max reveal that Steve is not who he says he is. Crestfallen, she rests her head on Gladys’ shoulder, and my heart breaks.
But seriously — who is the man, woman, or non-gender specific human behind Steve?
The next day, Cassie forwards Nevax an email and song that she recently received from Steve. Nevax inspects the file and notices that the author isn’t listed as Steven Gomez or even S-KILLA but is under YnotpartY. Upon searching for YnotpartY, they find a video of poorly-made synth track. Wait, I know that tune. It’s one of S-KILLA’s apparent songs. But this time the song accompanies a slideshow video featuring not a muscular African American guy with blue eyes but a thin light-skinned guy with long brown hair named Tony.
Armed with this startling new information, Nevax heads to Cassie’s house to show her the video. She recognizes Tony! And it’s her best friend Gladys’ cousin that has been staying at her house for an extended time. Steve = Tony! Right? RIGHT?
WRONG, sort of. Nevax and Cassie arrive at Gladys’ house to confront Tony, but Gladys answers the door. Then, she confesses that she is, in fact, Steve. Gladys = Steve.
Gladys initially created Steve as a desperate attempt to convince Cassie to stop her self-destructive actions after he father died. She then asked Tony to talk to Cassie on the phone and pretend that he was the same Steve she chatted with online and in text messages.
Cassie confronts Tony as well, who also apologizes, but he seems shifty and insincere and more importantly, boring compared to the dramatic complication in Cassie and Gladys’ long friendship.
With the help of Nevax, Gladys apologizes to Cassie, who despite still being angry, forgives her, admitting that she is a better person today because of Steve. For everything that Nevax does, or doesn’t do on the show, they are objectively good moderators and mediators. That’s the strength of the show — not the “intensive” investigative research or fancy handheld cameras.
Two months later, Nevax, in yet another nondescript hotel room, check in on Cassie and Gladys. Cassie is doing well, focusing on her job and school work. Gladys is also doing well, still trying to rebuild her fractured but not shattered friendship with Cassie. It’s good that there’s a happy ending for Cassie to have learned the truth and moved on with her life, but it is still sad to see how such a close friendship was severely damaged due to good intentions and over-the-top deceit.