Aaron is a lonely, overweight young man who lacks confidence and struggles to make friends. He takes to the Internet and creates a profile on Facebook because he just wants someone to talk to. Except why be himself when he could be a young, beautiful blonde woman named Amanda? He finds a friend, Tyler, and before long the two are deep into a virtual relationship.
It sounds like the beginning of a crime drama, but it’s actually real life, and MTV’s Catfish was there last year to reveal all the sordid details as they exposed Aaron. Based on a documentary of the same name, and now into its second season, Catfish: The Series helps bring the couples together, usually after the victim suspects their partner isn’t telling the truth, for a dramatic showdown. Host Nev Schulman (who was duped in the original documentary by a middle-aged woman) is at the center of it all, helping to reveal the truth behind the relationships.
In the first season, it wasn’t always a case of “catfish” (the person with the fake identity) and victim. Sometimes the bad guys weren’t all that bad, just lonely, socially awkward or confused. In the case of the victims, you might think to yourself, “I would never let this happen to me,” but when someone seemingly perfect comes along, you can’t blame people for being positive.
The show is successful because you want to know why. Why did someone spend months or sometimes years lying to this innocent person? What was the motive? And how did the victim fall so utterly for their virtual lover? It’s the human interest side of the show where the audience learns a little more about just what kinds of people are out there.
Things change with season two as the series pushes the boundaries, bringing in more vulnerable victims. This shifts the audience allegiance squarely back to the victim and makes it much harder to like the catfish, even if their deception is a result of confusion and loneliness.
In the Catfish season 2 premiere, we meet Cassie, a young girl whose life was spiraling out of control because of the sudden murder of her father. She claims her online friend Steve helped her climb back from the edge, so much so that she asked him to marry her, even though she’s only seen 10 pictures of him and they’ve never spoken via webcam. The eventual reveal that Cassie’s best friend was the one who set the whole thing up is truly shocking and heartbreaking. Then in Episode 2, an Iraq war veteran named Anthony is working through his post-combat depression by chatting with “Marq.” Anthony learns by himself that Marq isn’t who he says he is, but approaches Schulman to help him track down and confront his online boyfriend about his real identity.
After those explosive episodes, who knows where the show will go from there. But in another twist, host Schulman has teased that there may be some happy endings this season. How, after the trickery is revealed, could the victim decide to continue on with the relationship? We’ll be glued to our screens to find out.
What do you think of Catfish season 2 so far? Could you ever fall for someone online? Let us know in the comments section below.