1. Curiosity. Every episode begins the same. We are introduced to our protagonist (let’s call her Milly) who is enlisting the Catfish team’s help to find and meet her online soul mate (let’s call him TJ). Milly divulges detailed information about their online relationship and bits of information she knows about TJ. We see both Milly and TJ’s Facebook profile, their text messages and hear all about their unbreakable infatuation with each other. A marriage-crazy sorority girl is in love with a mysterious Calvin Klein male model with a dark past? I’m sold. Forget yoga, this one’s gonna be good, break out the popcorn please. Cut to commercial break.
2. Frustration. And we are back! Milly continues to gush about TJ but the deeper these stories go, it becomes blatantly apparent to anyone with eyeballs and a brain that something aint right. So this guy’s name is TJ? He never wants to Skype with her? Why doesn’t anything come up when she Googles him? Why does he only have 10 friends on Facebook? Why can’t he talk on the phone? Why doesn’t Milly see any of these red flags?!?! It truly amazes me how some of these people are so gullible (or in love) that they never seem to think to ask themselves these questions, and instead have Catfish productions orchestrate an entire TV show around their disillusioned reality. Even if you meet someone in person nowadays you somewhat online stalk them when you get home, amirite? Facebook creeping is an art that I thought everyone in our generation has some background in, but apparently not. Have none of these people seen “To Catch a Predator?!?!?” I mean, really.
3. Confusion. Once the Catfish producers have heard Milly stories, they retreat to their hotel room to investigate. Do they call in a private detective? Do they send out a spy? NO. They take the damn Facebook pictures of “TJ” drop them in to Google and do an image search. BOOM. SHOCKER, “TJ” is actually a guy named Luis who lives in Maryland, not Georgia. (Again, why Milly would not have thought to do this in the first place is beyond me.) But I digress, if this “TJ” isn’t who he says he is then who the hell is he? Who is Milly talking to? Does he even have six pack abs? Is he actually a neurophysicist? Does he really know Oprah and DJ P-Diddy’s White Party every year????? So many questions!!!!!
4. Anxiety. Tensions begin to mount as the Catfish crew finally convinces TJ to meet up with Milly. This is the moment we have all be waiting for, and shit is about to get real. We are in the car, Milly is in the front seat, she is nervous, she is sweating, she is wondering if this was a good idea to begin with. What if TJ is actually a 60-year-old man? What if he is actually beautiful and they live happily ever after? My palms are sweaty, my high rate is through the roof and my anxiety rivals the level of panic I get while sitting in the dentist’s waiting room. They are pulling up to his house, and they are knocking on his door. Milly is starting to freak out, I am starting to freak out. Deep breaths everyone. WHATS GONNA HAPPEN?! I CANT TAKE THE HEAT!!!!!!!!!!!!
5. Anger. Cut back from commercial and SUPRISE, TJ is NOT a Calvin Klein model with six pack abs, he is actually a 16-year-old girl named Velma. Milly is in disbelief and horrified. Velva explains that she never meant to hurt Milly but shows little remorse for her lies and acts like it is no big deal. No big deal? You are a liar Velma. A LIAR. You have betrayed our trust and look, now you’ve made Milly cry. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO MILLY?! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US! I HATE YOU VELMA! I REALLY HATE YOU.
6. Second Hand Embarrassment. Wow, that was intense. Let’s take it down a notch, breathe, relax, get back in the car Milly, just walk away girlfriend. Jeeze that was bad, I mean that was really bad. Milly looks mortified. I would be too. I mean she just told an entire TV crew, and MTV audience that she was head over heels in love with a guy on the internet which, in itself, is a little sad and then he turns out to be a woman with a borderline personality disorder. Wow. Ugh this is uncomfortable now, I think I’m gonna go to the bathroom or get more popcorn, I’m starting to feel nauseous.
7. Sadness. Poor Milly, she is so upset. And poor Velma, she clearly doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. I’m depressed. Facebook ruins everything. Here she was just looking for someone out there who understood her, who wanted to be with her and it was all a joke. Does true love even exist? Will anyone ever love her? Will anyone ever love me???? Uh why did I watch this? Where is my popcorn?
8. Indifference. Velma and Milly eventually start talking again, arranged by MTV, and sort of develop a halved assed friendship; a bittersweet yet confusing ending to this mini drama. But I don’t care, the damage has already been done. I literally experienced every high and low of human emotion in 45 minutes from a reality show. Cool. And now I’m out of popcorn. Should I go for a walk? I feel like I need to debrief from this situation I just witnessed. But wait, could it be? Yup, it is. It’s another episode, and this one looks really good. Hmm. I guess I’ll just sit down and watch for like a second? I can go for a walk later. Yea, it will only take a second…