Great Job, Internet!: Translating the heartache of MTV’s Catfish into cold-blooded statistics

At best, the process of looking for love online can be daunting and frightening. At worst, it can be deceptive, messy, and utterly humiliating. The Catfish franchise, including a 2010 documentary and a subsequent MTV reality series, exists to showcase all of that deception, messiness, and utter humiliation. For the happily uninitiated, a “catfish” is someone who deliberately misleads another person into an online romantic relationship by using false information and/or an invented persona. The word can also be used as a verb, i.e., “to catfish someone.” Hosts Max Joseph and Nev Schulman, the latter a catfishing victim himself, have been documenting these sad cases for more than half a decade now. On the eve of the series’ fifth season premiere, Fusion‘s Molly Fitzpatrick has made a study of the first four seasons of Catfish: The TV Show and has turned her findings into some disheartening but …

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