MTV’s Catfish is back for season 8. The popular series documents unfortunate incidents of people who form online relationships over an extended period of time but never have met face to face. They enlist the help of the show’s hosts to get answers as to why and typically uncover a web of lies.
But this season was much different. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the safest way people are connecting is virtual via FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangout. While many believe it would be harder to dupe someone in a heightened digital world, co-host Kamie Crawford says the perpetrators have just gotten smarter. In fact, their excuses this time around are all about the pandemic.
“Everyone is zooming, everyone is FaceTiming, everyone is video chatting – it’s become such a normal thing that even I have been video chatting more than I ever have,” Crawford tells Shadow and Act. “The excuse that these catfish have been having, even before the pandemic of not being able to video chat is there’s no way [they should have gotten away with it]. But, then they come up with other excuses, they’re like, ‘I’m an essential worker and that’s why I don’t have the time…I’m an EMT fighting for this country every day.’ Who wants to dismiss that? Who wants to say that’s not true or tell someone that they’re lying?”
With excuses like that, Crawford says it makes it more difficult for the victims to come to terms with the fact that they’re being catfished. She says individuals this season are longing for a connection more than ever because of quarantine, making it easier for them to be preyed upon.
Luckily, the Catfish crew is here to save the day. Crawford is always the one to give it to the participants straight forward. Moreso, she says viewers can also learn and look out for several indicators of being a victim of catfishing themselves.
“If somebody is willing to make every excuse in the book why they can’t FaceTime with you, the easiest thing to do which is push a button on your phone and there you are…there really is just no excuse for something like that,” she warns. “Always be weary when you’re asking somebody basic questions and they get upset or turn the question back on you. A lot of catfish we find will be so invested in your life and you don’t really know anything about theirs…it has to be both ways and a lot of our hopefuls are people who give all the time who aren’t used to someone asking them how their day went or how was work or checking in with a fight they told them about with a coworker.”
But there’s one specific sign that Crawford says she’s found that too many people ignore from online relationships with individuals who live in the same town.
“A lot of times we have people who are getting catfished by somebody who lives in the same town as them and we’re like, ‘Have they ever talked to you about a specific place where you live that you would know?’
Some of this stuff may come off as common sense to viewers, but Crawford isn’t quick to judge her participants. “When people want to make connections they’ll believe anything,” she notes. “The same goes for in-person relationships. You keep those rose-colored glasses on because you want to believe the other person is genuinely interested in you.”
As for what she hopes victims take away from their trauma, Crawford says that if they opt to give the perpetrator a second chance, to realize that their entire relationship was built on a lie.
“We have our sidebar conversations with our hopefuls and we talk to them and say, ‘Is this something you’d be willing to deal with in the future?’ You can always expect for a repeat of the same behavior unless people genuinely get help,” she says. But even then, it’s hard to forget,” she warns.
Watch the full interview with Crawford where she talks about her own experience being Catfish, her most memorable episodes, and what else to expect from season 8:
Catfish airs Tuesdays on MTV at 9 p.m. EST.