The work of uncovering posers online is never done for Catfish: The TV Show’s Nev Schulman and Kamie Crawford. A raging pandemic took their investigations largely virtual, at home and in an office studio. Now the two are going from 100-percent video conferencing back to the road. However, the mission of helping people confront their deceivers remains the same. We caught up with the dynamic duo (yes, via Zoom) to talk about their latest fishing expeditions.
How has it been making the transition back into the world?
Nev Schulman: You don’t always appreciate what you have until you don’t have it. For us, I think doing 40 plus episodes remotely really made us miss not just each other and the dynamic we bring [but also] the experience of traveling, seeing new places, knocking on doors, talking to people. It’s all part of the experience of the show. The process of getting back has been slower than I think we’ve liked. There have been some hiccups obviously. The variants popped up, so we went back to virtual. It hasn’t been smooth, certainly not a straight line. But we are now fully filming in the world. Some of those episodes I think will air toward the end of the current season and moving forward, pending any unforeseeable developments with the CDC.
What did you guys learn from the experience of going virtual?
Kamie Crawford: Catfish is a major TV show on a major network, and we still have Zoom outages and issues. I feel like Zoom and Google Hangouts have become part of our regular lives. It’s just amazing from our experience to create a show that is so current that we can assimilate to whatever environment we are in. Being able to take that to Zoom or through the computer has been really interesting. Being able to connect with people from all over the world too in the episodes in such a quick fashion has been really cool. Social media and the internet can be used for good and evil. We try to use it for good as much as we can.
What kind of impact do you think COVID has had on catfishing?
Nev: A lot of people who haven’t previously needed or wanted to consider online relationships or dating were forced to because of the pandemic. I think a lot of people who have full lives and social interaction felt this isolation and loneliness that many people who have come on our show have felt. As a result, I think they’re tempted, and in many cases, actually engaged in online relationships they might not have had otherwise. That trend of people who are not necessarily the type to think or expect to be in an online relationship we’re seeing more of, which I think is interesting.
Is it more challenging to expose a catfish than in the past, because people are so social media savvy?
Kamie: I think the same way they evolved we also had to evolve. Even now, we’re finding new apps. We’re not just using Google Image Search anymore. We have another app we are using that has better facial recognition software to find people — at least unmask the photos they are using to catfish. Once you track those people it makes our lives easier. As new apps come out though, we begin to cross-reference. We try to keep up as best as we can, but they can be tricky.
As we’ve seen from the first episodes since you’ve been back. Any stories coming up that stand out to you?
Nev: We did have a particular episode where a former catfish came on as a hopeful. That’s an interesting twist you don’t expect to see. I’m looking forward to people watching and getting their reactions. It’s a particularly colorful character who we are helping.
You guys have such chemistry. What has it been like to get to know each other and be a part of each other’s lives, especially during these weird times?
Kamie: You go first. I want to hear you say nice things about me.
Nev: The time we’ve now known each other has been an interesting time in the world and in our lives. It’s a pandemic. You knew me married with one kid. Now I have three kids. And Kamie had a lot happen to her — not only with the show but her relationship status, which is now recently single. Just in case anyone needed to hear this.
Kamie: Yes! Put this in the article.
Nev: Kamie, what I was going to tell you is I have a friend who is very successful and talented who I hadn’t heard [from] in a little while. He texted me the other day with just a picture of you. He said, “What’s her deal?” He wants to know more.
Kamie: What?! That’s exciting. Nev, I like to say, is the big brother I never wanted. We’ve become family. The show has been around for so long. When Nev and Max [Joseph] were doing it, that was what attracted everyone to the show. Their dynamic, their bromance. It was awesome to see them bounce off each other. So to come in from that, and people love Nev and [my] relationship. They love our banter. They love the fact we are really great at different things, but it works simultaneously. It’s awesome to get to know Laura [Perlongo] and the kids. He gets to know me and my family. It just feels very natural. I know it’s exciting for people to watch. Our lives are very much joined together.
What are your thoughts on the UK version of the show now airing Stateside?
Nev: We’ve actually had other international franchise spinoffs in addition to the UK one. I like the idea of them existing. I’m just upset I don’t get asked to host.
Kamie: For the second season of Catfish UK, I got to go out and do an episode with Oobah [Butler]. They are all so different. I do feel like we can be involved in all of them, but there are so many catfishes in the world. And I guess we can’t do it 24/7 as a part of our lives.
Nev: There are obviously language barriers.
Kamie: And things we might not get. Even doing the UK episode, they were talking about different areas. I’m like, “Where is that?” It’s cool to see the show have such a major reach. At the same time, call us. We would love to go to South America.
MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show, Wednesdays, 8/7c, MTV