Catfish: The TV Show

Common Sense Media says

Web dating personas revealed! Inspires empathy, voyeurism.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

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.

Violence

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

Sex

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

Language

Infrequent use of "ass."

Consumerism

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?

QUALITY
 

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
Network:MTV
Genre:Reality TV
Topics:Friendship
TV rating:NR
Available on:Streaming

This review of Catfish: The TV Show was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

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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Quality

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; OK 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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Parent of a 5, 6, 7, and 11 year old Written byAnEpicGuy December 3, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

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
Teen, 17 years old Written byPrincessOso16 August 14, 2014
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Good show

I really enjoy this show, it's also good because it really shows the dangers of talking to people online, there has only been about 2 episodes where the Catfish has turned out to be the person they said they were. There is no violence or sex, sometimes a bit of language but if it is a bad swearing word it has a beep over it.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written byM&M1995 July 28, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Online dating is the focus of this detective-style reality series.

Catfish: The TV Show can get boring, and a lot of the storylines seem to be recycled each episode. The "catfish" is the person who is not who they say they are, luring their online partner into a world of lies, deception, and manipulation, sometimes over the course of years. Although the series started off with a focus on dating, in its most recent season Catfish has ventured into the territory of fake online friendships and scams, which can either be viewed as refreshing or disappointing. The formula works okay, and some episodes leave you at the edge of your seat. Seeing as online dating is what defines this show, expect constant discussion about relationships, intimacy, and infidelity. In addition, there is talk about sexting, phone sex, d*ck pics, and more. Some of the people looking for help on the show are gay men or women. Swearing and confrontation occur between the person and their alleged lover or "catfish" and between the catfish and the hosts Nev and Max. If it is at all reassuring, some of the catfish show remorse and regret, others have emotional stories or circumstances, and the ideals of forgiveness are tested. Catfish can be a platform to open up discussion with your child about the dangers of the Internet and social media.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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