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Catfish: The TV Show is an American reality-based documentary television series airing on MTV about the truths and lies of online dating. The series is based on the 2010 film Catfish and is co-hosted by Nev Schulman and Max Joseph. It premiered on November 12, 2012.[1] The show has been renewed for season 7, which premiered on January 3, 2018.[2]

Catfish: The TV Show
Genre Reality
Based on Catfish
by Henry Joost
Ariel Schulman
Developed by
Starring Nev Schulman
Max Joseph
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 102 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Andrew Jarecki
  • Ariel Schulman
  • Brad Bishop
  • David Metzler
  • Henry Joost
  • Jonathan Karshis
  • Julie Link Steffens
  • Marc Smerling
  • Marshall Eisen
  • Nev Schulman
  • Guillermo Bonilla
  • Nomi Ernst Leidner
  • Tom Forman
Cinematography John DeTarsio
Max Joseph
Camera setup Multiple
Running time 41 to 42 minutes
Production company(s) Catfish Picture Company
Relativity Media
Distributor Viacom Media Networks
Original network MTV
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Original release November 12, 2012 (2012-11-12) – present (present)
External links



"They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank God for the catfish because we would be ... boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin." —from Catfish

Why the term "catfish" is used to describe people who portray someone else online

On the Internet, a "catfish" is a person who creates fake personal profiles on social media sites using someone else's pictures and false biographical information to pretend to be someone other than themselves. These "catfish" usually intend to trick an unsuspecting person or more into falling in love with them. The term "catfish" is derived from the title of the previously-mentioned 2010 documentary, in which filmmaker Schulman discovers that the woman with whom he'd been carrying on an online relationship had not been honest in describing herself.

MTV and the Catfish film's producers, Schulman and Joseph, help people who are emotionally entangled with someone they have never met in real life. Each episode is an investigation into whether or not the other participant in the virtual relationship is legitimate or if they are, in fact, a "catfish". Some couples have been communicating for a few months—others, for years.

Nev claims that he has received requests from people asking him for his help in determining whether or not their online-only lover is lying or truthful about their identity. In each episode the hosts help a different individual with a different story, travelling to wherever they live and using background checks and research to uncover the truth. Nev and Max contact the other person to arrange a first-ever meeting between the two virtual lovers, then documents how both people are impacted.[3][4] Schulman said at the Television Critics Association press tour in August 2012 that it's not all about pulling the rug out from under people, explaining:

Whether or not two people are totally lying to each other and it turns out to be a huge disaster, that's only the first part of the story. We then want to know why they are doing it, who they are, what they are feeling, what led them to this place, and why that resonates with thousands of other young people who have the same feelings, who don't have someone to talk to or don't know how to express themselves.

— Nev Schulman, August 2012 Zap2It article [1]


The show presents the "hopeful" as the one who initiates contact with Schulman and Joseph in an attempt to discover the true identity of their online romance, or the "catfish". Some of the show's casting calls do solicit stories from hopefuls,[5] and casting director Michael Esposito explained in August 2015 that the show can receive more than a hundred applications a day.[6]

However, a 2013 report[7] explained that despite the broadcast show being structured as a search by the hopeful for true identity of the catfish, it is usually the catfish who make the first contact with MTV. Producers then proceed to gather information about the deception from the catfish and contact the hopeful afterwards. For legal reasons, all persons involved on the series sign contracts agreeing to appear on camera prior to the episode even entering production. In Season 3's Miranda and Camryn episode, the catfish did change their mind about meeting the hopeful, and only appeared via Skype.

The hosts are given no information about the catfish, and while the catfish has already agreed to appear on the show, they do not know when or how the hosts will be looking for them.

Nev Schulman explained more about the reverse-engineering in an August 2014 interview:

"A lot of the stories that we get come from the catfish side of things. People who feel so terrible [...] that they've been lying to a friend or a lover on the internet for a long time. They want to come clean, but they fear if they simply told the truth, the other person would [...] be very upset that they've been lied to and deceived, and likely discard them. And so they're hopeful that by coming on the show [...] maybe we can facilitate some kind of amicable exchange, that they can be heard, explain themselves in a more objective and non-judgmental way. So [the producers] orchestrate very delicately, and staying out of it as much as possible, a scenario by which [...] the hopeful reaches out to me [...]. And so [Max and I] just pick up from there. [The hopeful has] no idea of course that the other person's already expressed interest in meeting. And the [catfish] doesn't know that we're actually doing it. They just sorta think maybe it could happen. So they don't know when or why or how. So it's tricky, but everything is real. The feelings are real, the relationships are real. We haven't created any scenarios, we don't tell people what to say or do. It's very unpredictable".[8]


The film Catfish was criticized and its authenticity questioned. Executive producer Tom Forman stresses that the TV version won't just tell "stories of deception. We've also stumbled into some love stories. We found people who are exactly who they say they are. We are putting those on television, too. We find people who are willing to get past an initial deception and really do make a connection at the end — in person and in real life. That's been really heartwarming. So I think, when we set out, we really don't know how it's going to end: good, bad, or in the middle somewhere".[1]

International versionsEdit

Country Name Host(s) Channel No. of seasons Broadcast
  Colombia Catfish Colombia Diego Saenz, Sebastián Parra MTV 2 September 10, 2014 (2014-09-10) – November 5, 2015 (2015-11-05)
  Chile Espías del Amor Julio César Rodríguez (1–), Andrés Alemparte (1–), César Antonio Campos (3–), Marcelo Arismendi (1–2) Chilevisión 3 October 27, 2015 (2015-10-27)
  Brazil Catfish Brasil Ciro Sales, Ricardo Gadelha MTV 2 August 31, 2016 (2016-08-31) – October 11, 2017 (2017-10-11)
  Mexico Catfish Mexico Chapu Garza, José Luis Badalt MTV 1 March 1, 2018 (2018-03-01)


In January 2016, MTV began casting a proposed UK version of the show through online ads that do specifically target the catfish, not the hopeful: "Tired of keeping secrets from your online love? Come clean" and "Are you a secret Catfish? It's time to come clean".[9] The project was cancelled, but Schulman has said he would like to make a pan-European version.[10]

Series overviewEdit

Season Episodes Season premiere Season finale
1 12 November 12, 2012 (2012-11-12) February 25, 2013 (2013-02-25)
2 16 June 25, 2013 (2013-06-25) October 15, 2013 (2013-10-15)
3 10 May 7, 2014 (2014-05-07) July 9, 2014 (2014-07-09)
4 19 February 25, 2015 (2015-02-25) August 30, 2015 (2015-08-30)
5 20 February 24, 2016 (2016-02-24) September 21, 2016 (2016-09-21)
6 20 March 1, 2017 (2017-03-01) August 30, 2017 (2017-08-30)
7 10 January 3, 2018 (2018-01-03) March 7, 2018 (2018-03-07)[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Porter, Rick (August 3, 2012). "'Catfish: The TV Show': MTV delves into online relationships". Zap2It. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Double Exposure: The New Season Of Catfish Will Have Twice The Twists". MTV News. Retrieved 2017-12-12. 
  3. ^ Willmore, Alison (August 7, 2012). "MTV Readies a Reality Series Based on 'Catfish' for November". IndieWire. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Catfish: The TV Show". MTV. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Catfish: The TV Show is now casting!". MTV Shows. Archived from the original on July 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ AfterBuzz TV (August 26, 2015). "Catfish: The TV Show Season 4 Episode 21 Review w/ Michael Esposito". 
  7. ^ Lutes, Alicia (February 12, 2013). "Is 'Catfish' Catfishing America". Retrieved August 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ TheLipTV2 (August 1, 2014). "CATFISH - TV Show, Scams + More With Nev Schulman". 
  9. ^ Catfish: The TV Show on Twitter
  10. ^ Moore, Hannah (2016-10-10). "MTV could make a UK version of Catfish, according to presenter Nev Schulman - BBC Newsbeat". Retrieved 2017-12-19. 
  11. ^

External linksEdit