movie, a millennial mystery odyssey in which a young man falls in love with a carefully curated internet specter eventually revealed to be an actual human being with a complicated and problem-filled life.
With its promise of a “just true” story, At first the idea seemed original, the result of an intersection of cultural currents.
For years scholars and pundits have debated social media’s impact on how we interact, shape our identities, and sometimes create new ones.
Season one—from a storytelling perspective, easily the strongest—gave voice to marginalized and minority identities, communities, and love stories, rather than just paying lip service.
With Nev and his trusty silver-haired sidekick Max Joseph, we traveled to unloved corners of this country that rarely earn mention in the popular imagination.
For once, the popular gaze was shifted from the longing eye cast on wealth, fame, and metropolitan centers to the often-bleak, exurban, rural, and impoverished neighborhoods where people sometimes find solace in pretending to be someone else.
These lives were presented with dignity and a minimum of judgment; MTV had managed to portray the desperation behind the catfish type without packaging it as poverty porn.
The first season of In an early episode, we met Kya and Alyx, who had been dating online for years without meeting IRL.
Initially, Kya had hidden behind pictures of another woman before revealing her true self to the surprisingly accepting Alyx, supposedly a hot young Swiss guy recently transplanted to Riverside, California.
When they met, he was revealed to be Dani, a transgender man.
What looked like a train wreck waiting to happen turned into a beautiful story of acceptance and love across antiquated gender boundaries, a love story that—for its brief duration at least; Kya and Dani broke up shortly after filming—showed our generation at its best and achieved the sought-after authenticity the documentary had failed to cultivate., a transparent ploy for increased virality.
The recently concluded season three appeared to be a publicity machine for various MTV properties and a shallow attempt to maintain viewership.
In one episode, Nev and Max aimlessly scour Cincinnati, providing plenty of striking images of the city’s decay; in the end the proverbial The show’s producers seem to have actively sought out internet-scenester catfish to populate the third season: In the episode that I would call the season nadir, two teenagers with lots of Instagram followers meet-cute at the guy’s suspiciously heavily promoted concert—a scenario so perfect and devoid of emotional heft that it suggests the producers either didn’t do their due diligence or more likely set it up with the help of a corporate sponsor or two.
The falsity of the situation is never more evident than in the climactic mise-en-scène where the carefully styled Antoinette first meets Albert (a.k.a.