What Catfish shows us is that people who seemingly have it together can harbor identities to mask the parts of themselves they find unfavorable. Its appeal then lies in its place in reality. The desire to mask and recreate is not unusual. Most of us do it to some extent. But rarely do we think the consequences of our actions would spiral as deeply out of control as the ones we see on screen. Rarely do we fall in love while trying to create and promote these better versions of ourselves. But inherent in the similarities between the people on screen and the audience watching is the desire to present a self that is “better” (financially or physically or perhaps even emotionally).
I’ve sort of been obsessed with Catfish this season in particular and nearly every week feels like an exercise in breaking down our desires for identity creation, how it’s much easier to do so in the internet age. The lack of self-esteem, the irrational actions, the belief in one’s delusions … all of this has led me to believe that Catfish is one of the best and most important reality television shows on air. Nothing else has quite captured the realities of contemporary youth. So yes, I had to write more about it and you can read it here.