1. Nev and Max are sitting in what looks to be Nev’s bedroom. Jokes fly back and forth between the two buddies—you almost forget that their friendship is built entirely on exposing lies.
2. Nev checks his Gmail account and Max distractingly holds up a digital camera from 2009 to the screen so we can get a better look at the message.
3. The story is always the same: two people meet in some weirdly specific chatroom on the internet. You’re not sure why people are still using AOL-style chatrooms in 2016.
4. The couple exchanges low quality selfies over the chatroom and immediately fall in love. The person who’s getting Catfished (the Catfishee) says things like “I really felt a connection” or “I was ready to pack up and move to North Dakota to be with them.”
5. But then something weird happens. The Catfisher never wants to talk on the phone. They actively avoid Skyping. For some reason, this back and forth continues on for four years, and it is only after this exorbitant amount of time that the Catfishee thinks something might be off.
6. The Catfishee is always visibly confused when Nev and Max ask questions like “did you ever think it was weird you never spoke on the phone?” or “did you try googling their name?”
7. You find yourself getting frustrated. Obviously these people have access to the internet—that’s how this whole relationship started in the first place—how are they not at least not looking these people up on Facebook?
8. The Catfisher’s excuses are foolproof, argues the Catfishee. They’re allergic to cell phone radiation, they always seem to be “about to get in the shower,” they don’t have any rollover minutes.
9. Nev and Max are visibly excited about the impending heartbreak.
10. Nev and Max gather information about ex-partners, a list of the Catfishee’s enemies, a bunch of email addresses, and phone numbers.
11. Again, it is baffling that the Catfishee could not have done this three years ago.
12. They begin cold-calling a bunch of the people on the lists. For some reason, absolutely nobody is phased answering a phone call from fucking Nev from Catfish. You would 100% freak out—Is someone using my photo in an elaborate scam?! Am I going to be Catfished!?—but everyone is like, “oh yeah, I’ve seen the show on MTV. What’s up?”
13. 90% of the episode is footage of Nev and Max in some sad hotel room in some miserable town, googling things on Nev’s MacBook. There is no advanced technology or priority access to FBI secret files—20 minutes of b-roll is spent showing these two goons just using Google.
14. They somehow acquire the Catfisher’s number. The Catfisher is somehow always a person who answers their phone when an unknown number calls. Nev has never left a voicemail, he somehow always gets the person after two rings. What the fuck?
15. The Catfisher, much like the rest of the people Nev and Max call, is not at all stressed about being called. They comply with absolutely no complaint or resistance. They give Nev their private home address without even really confirming that it’s actually Nev from Catfish.
16. Seriously, you wonder, how did this Catfisher go from not wanting to talk on the phone with the person they supposedly fell in love with on the internet, to immediately willing to give their home address to some guy who claims he’s on MTV?
17. It’s time for the Big Reveal. This has all happened so fast. It also could’ve happened, like, five years ago if the Catfishee had just fucking Googled their love interest’s screen name—but whatever.
18. The Catfishee is incredibly shaken standing in a random person’s front yard. There always seems to be snow on the ground.
19. You can’t help but wonder what you would wear to the Big Reveal of the internet person you had been dating for four years.
20. The Catfishee seems to always go with a peacoat and jeans.
21. Nev knocks on the Catfisher’s door. Did the Catfisher just wait around all day for this? Were they watching something on tv for the hours leading up to this momentous (and filmed) occasion?
22. You also can’t help but wonder what you would wear if you were revealing yourself as the Catfisher.
23. The Catfisher always comes out wearing a hoodie. No exceptions.
24. The Catfisher has revealed themselves. They’re either the same sex as the Catfishee (and lied about being otherwise), a very vengeful ex, or the Catfishee’s cousin’s baby’s estranged father.
25. No matter what, it’s a fucking huge surprise. This—THIS—is why you save this show on your DVR, you remind yourself as the Catfisher walks out of their house and addresses the Catfishee face to face.
26. The Catfisher ALWAYS HAS AN ATTITUDE. They always seem so blasé and nonchalant about being caught in their elaborate lie—“eh, sorry. But I love you?”
27. The Catfishee has a breakdown. This show is the best thing that’s ever happened to you. How does it always seem to entertain you, even though the same thing happens every episode?
28. The Catfishee runs back to Nev’s rented SUV and sobs into the dashboard camera.
29. Nev and Max try to have a serious discussion with the Catfisher. Sometimes their reasoning for Catfishing is sad, like they felt unlovable, but it’s a rush when they have a really obscure and unjustifiable excuse for why they strung this poor person along for multiple years. Who does this?!
30. The Catfisher and Catfishee are forced to confront each other. It’s always very emotionally charged and tense. It’s hard to believe that Max is there with his digital camera from Best Buy witnessing it all firsthand.
31. You think to yourself: this is crazy. This is absolutely insane. This is a once-in-a-lifetime catch by Nev and Max—but it’s actually not, because the next episode is starting. And you know exactly what happens.