Catfish: The TV Show

Common Sense Media says

Web dating personas revealed! Inspires empathy, voyeurism.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The show sends the essential message to teens that you can't always trust the person on the other end of a chat or a friend request, and that emotional connections forged in the virtual world may not translate to the real one. The hosts' investigative process reveals how easy it is to gain information about a person online. Subjects discuss how their self-esteem issues and negative body image encourage them to create new personas in the safety of the Internet.

Positive role models

The people who are guilty of lying usually wind up feeling guilty and unhappy when they're confronted by their victims. In some cases, the two parties are able to move past the initial shock and start new personal relationships; in others, the sense of betrayal is too deep to forgive. The show's hosts reserve judgment on the subjects' actions, giving them opportunity to explore and explain their feelings.


In some cases, subjects mention violence in their pasts, as when a woman describes cutting herself because of depression.


References to unplanned pregnancy and physical relationships, but nothing graphic.


Infrequent use of "ass."


There are many references to social media sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some of the subjects smoke or drink from cans that appear to hold beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Catfish peels back the romantic trappings of online dating to reveal its more questionable side by bringing together people who may have used social media to misrepresent themselves. It's an intriguing journey that does a good job humanizing a timely issue for tweens and teens in a nonjudgmental way, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions from the players' predicaments. That said, the fact that the show is creating entertainment out of people's emotions -- both good and bad -- raises issues about voyeurism and the participants' motivations. What's more, even though it intends to point out the inherent dangers of social media sites like Facebook and MySpace, the frequent references to them might have the opposite effect on viewers. Because each episode follows a different couple's story, it's difficult to anticipate the content, or how heated or heart-wrenching the confrontations might be.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

CATFISH: THE TV SHOW is a reality series that investigates the emotional fallout of the anonymous nature of online dating. Created by Nev Schulman, who chronicled his own experiences with social media relationships in a short film of the same name, Catfish turns the focus to fans' Internet love tales and examines the truth and lies that are forced into the open when the two parties meet face to face for the first time. In each episode, Nev and his filmmaker partner Max Joseph follow the story of a fan who's hoping to make a personal connection with the object of his or her affection, but just how that first encounter will go is anybody's guess when phony profiles and misleading photos often lead to betrayals of trust.

Is it any good?


Catfish cuts to the chase of the woes of virtual friendships: How do you know the person on the other end of the chat line is who he or she claims to be? And are you always true to yourself when you're online? It's an issue that drives families' Internet rules and many conversations between parents and their web-savvy tweens and teens, but is it one that really hits home with yours? If you're not sure -- and even if you think you are -- then this raw series is a great segue into a more concrete dialogue about the pleasures and dangers of befriending people online.

The show doesn't create drama or ignite controversy for sensationalism, but it does devote a lot of time to drawing out the emotions of its participants, so it's not always comfortable to watch. Sometimes the initial meetings are joyful confirmation of the two parties' deep affection; in other cases the outcomes aren't so happy, thanks to someone's dishonesty and the victim's sense of betrayal. It's impossible to watch these emotional confrontations and not feel for the one who's been duped, but the instigators' honesty about their motivations is a telling glimpse into the prevalence of this issue.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the benefits of social media. How do sites like Facebook encourage relationships you might not otherwise have access to? Do you think they enrich your life? What is your main objective in using them?

  • Teens: How does the anonymity of the Internet allow you to be someone other than yourself? Do you ever find yourself doing this? How would you feel in the shoes of this show's victim? Of the guilty party?

  • Parents can use this series to lay the groundwork for their teens' Internet rules. What sites are they allowed to use? What oversight will you have? What should they do if they suspect someone is targeting them with misleading information?

TV details

Cast:Max Joseph, Nev Schulman
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

This review of Catfish: The TV Show was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byTinyToya December 1, 2012

This show is not bad, but can be very boring and predictable.

Overall: The people who are dating online for years and yet never meet face-to-face are really hard to feel sorry for. Most of the cases involve people who know something is wrong (especially when someone does not want to meet in person), but have fallen deeply into the fantasy of true "love". But really, how can you be in love with someone you haven't even met?! Anyhow, the show does not really contain any bad language (that isn't at least bleeped out), it is more focused on the detective side of finding things out. There is a commercial every four/five minutes, boring conversations between the hopeful and Nev, and too much focus put on the teammate/camera guy. I found the show to be "under"whelming (with predictable "reveals") and way too long. Everything is dragged out, repeated and just ends up being an annoyingly long hour program. I rated the show at age 13, because this is when teens will be thinking about dating and it can be informing to see who really is behind the computer.
Adult Written byJEDI micah January 21, 2013

This is why social networking can be dangerous!

The reason why I find this reality show intersting is that it shows how dangerous it is to go onto Facebook or any other social network. You don't know if the person who seems to be interested in you is the autual person online. This show, in a way, is like a detective reality show. I don't normally watch shows on MTV, but this one is an "OK" show for people who are reality show fans.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Parent of a 5, 6, 7, and 11 year old Written byAnEpicGuy December 3, 2012

Not ok for kids

This is banned in my house. My sister has seen this and it's inaproppriate.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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