Catfish is back: Love on the internet [Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) We all want to find someone and fall in love. But in our internet age, just how believable are the relationships we indulge in via the internet? And how do we deal with the consequences?
The second season of Catfish, the pathbreaking show about the dangers of finding love online, premiered on Saturday night in the UAE on MTV. And the show's presenters, Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, say it's more outrageous and shocking than ever before.
Catfish was initially a critically acclaimed documentary film by Schulman released in 2010, about his online relationship with a young woman who turned out to be a bored, stay-at-home mum of four. The film's success (while some filmmakers have doubted it's authenticity) spawned the TV series which premiered last year in which Schulman and Joseph help people track down their elusive virtual lovers.
The issue of online relationships is a burning topic in the UAE, with Dubai Police recently sending out warnings about an increasing number of cyber criminals looking for victims online.
Brigadier Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Director of the General Department of Criminal Investigation (CID) at Dubai Police, said incidents of men being lured by cyber criminals posing as women via social media was on the rise.
He told Gulf News that these criminals then blackmail their victims into paying them so as not to have the details of their relationships spread online.
One man, he said, paid Dh2,000 to avoid having footage of himself in compromising shots spread online.
For the second season of Catfish, Schulman and Joseph are back on familiar ground, documenting more stories of people, mostly in the US, who go online to find love. They recently spoke about the experiences, the new stories — and tease about some shocking revelations to come.
Q: Where did you learn your counselling skills?
Max: Nev and I both grew up in NYC and, kind of a typical to form, we both have been in therapy since we were around 11 or 12 years old pretty consistently, I would say. I still go to see a therapist.
Nev: I have made so many mistakes and been in trouble so many times. I'm no stranger to sitting down and having a good stern talking to, and listening and getting great advice and having people who care for me and want to help me and support me. So I think I sort of see all of that good energy and build up and I finally became the person that I am now and I have this opportunity now to go out and share that with the people that I meet. Often times, in order to be a good friend to someone, all you really need to do is listen and just let them tell you how they feel.
Q: What would you say is the hardest part of the job?
Max: I mean the hardest part, for both of us, is that the show is really intense. Every episode, we meet someone and we step into their lives and they share everything with us for about a week and it's very easy to get attached and very involved in their story, and as they go through their emotions, the highs and especially the lows, it's very exhausting to go through it with them. It is very rewarding but at the end of every week, we are both pretty much emotionally wiped out and then we have to start the next episode basically the next day.
Nev: Honestly for me, the hardest part of being on road is spending so much time away from my girlfriend. I'm in an amazing relationship, I'm totally in love with my beautiful and incredible girlfriend and I don't get to see her very much. So that's really tough.
Q: What was different about filming season 2 than the first season?
Nev: The big difference for us about filming season 2 is that now when we travel around, when we go through airports and we go to restaurants, we are popular: people know who we are, they like us, they want to come over to take pictures.
Max: They run up to Nev and then ask me to take a picture of them with Nev!
Nev: Basically, we have to build an extra 45 minutes into the day for fan photos.
Max: But even more than that, it helps us when we are doing the investigation and we have to call people who we find on the Catfish's Facebook profile. In season 1, we had to explain what we were doing, we are making this TV show, we're not creeping, we're not weirdos, and now all we have to say is: have you ever heard of the show Catfish? And most of the time they actually say yes and we are like, â€˜Great! Well, Nev's calling, he's here with Max, we are shooting and we would like to get some information from you.' It kind of gives us a media credibility that lets people trust us.
Q: What do you think was the biggest shocker filming season 2?
Nev: I think the biggest or most shocking moment so far, maybe of this entire series, season 1 and season 2, just happened a couple of days ago. I can't get into details because I don't want to spoil it. But basically, we were helping this guy meet this girl we have been talking to, and the whole situation was crazy, weird and complicated. We didn't really know what we were going into. But when we met this catfish, they came out and we had a hard time believing that they were even a real person. We thought they were basically straight out of, like, the professional wrestling circuit and we were all caught off guard andâ€¦
Max: Things got a little physical.
Nev: I actually had to get my hands on this person for a minute to make sure things didn't escalate any further. It was that intense.
Q: What do you guys do to relax and take a break from all of this intense filming?
Max: As soon as we are done with shooting, I just go to work in my room on films and other things that I'm working on. Catfish is actually the fun part of the day for me and as soon as Catfish is over, I just go to work and Nev goes to work out.
Nev: The truth is, when we have downtime or days off, like today, we are still working. I mean, MTV, that's how much you mean to us: we dedicated our time off while we are shooting season 2 to sit here and talk to you because we really love you guys.
Max: We are working for you.
Q: Tell us about the new season of Catfish. What can fans expect to see?
Nev: Here is what you've got to expect this season on Catfish: crazy stories about crazy people, amazing stories aboutâ€¦
Max: â€¦amazing people. We have some really happy endings, where they live happily ever after. We also have some catfishing for good, if you can believe it or not, progressive catfishing.
Q: How do you feel about online dating after all your experiences on the shows investigating scams?
Max: Online meeting is a great way for people to meet each other. What we see in our show is generally not online dating. Most of these people meet by accident through Facebook or other social networks — they're not on dating websites where their goal is to actually meet one another. Being on those websites is generally a lot safer and a lot more reliable.
Nev: You know, both Max and I totally promote online dating if you do it right, with the right intentions. If you're honest and you know what you are looking for and you are serious about actually pursuing a relationship, than great, go online, meet people, go out, have a drink with them and take it from there.
Max: You also need to be kind of the right amount of cautious as well. You have to be a little sceptical and a little weary and you need to make people earn your trust. If you go on and you're too naive and you believe everything someone tells you without verifying that they are who they are, then you could get hurt. But if you take the right precautions, you could end up finding an amazing person and living happily ever after.
Q: How did you go about sorting through each case study this time around to decide which ones to pursue for season 2?
Max: Nev and I get tons of e-mails every day from people who have seen the show and are currently in situations that would be right for the show. So, we take those e-mails and forward them to our casting team, who do an incredible job of sorting through them and finding stories that are really different from the ones that we have seen, with people who are extremely interesting.
Nev: We don't actually choose the stories that go on the show because we don't want to know what to expect. So when we go into an episode, we know nothing, we don't know where we are going until we read the e-mail, we don't know who we are going to meet until we meet them and we certainly don't know how this thing is going to end until it ends.
Max: We don't really even know what day it is, either.
*Interview supplied by MTV.
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