Screens: MTV

Can Catfish Prove To Andria That She Hasn't Wasted Ten Years On David?

Andria met David on Bebo when she was twelve and has been 'with' him since then. But they've never met. What could the reason be?!

The Client

Andria, a preschool teacher in St. Louis.

The Beloved

David, occupation unknown, in Chicago.

The Clues

Since meeting on Bebo ten years ago, when she was twelve (he's "a few years older") and becoming "boyfriend and girlfriend," they've never met in person. They've never even videochatted. When she threatened to "put [him] on Catfish," he asked whether she wanted to Skype, or for him to send pictures, and then I guess didn't wait for her answer because the next thing Andria says t that "David" texted, "I'm Geo, I'm a female, I'm sorry that I hurt you," and sent a photo:

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Rather different than the photos David had sent when he was younger:

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Andria demanded a photo with her name somewhere in it, and "David" sent this:

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Of this one, Andria says, "Just randomly sent me that."

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Mmmm, nope, don't think there's actually anything "random" about a photo of someone's DRIVER'S LICENSE, traditionally a PROOF OF IDENTITY. The driver's license image also has this woman's full name, Christina [Redacted], and her home address, which Andria says is also the return address on "letters," plural, David has sent her in the past. "That's supposedly his mom's address," Andria explains. (She then gets out one such letter, dated October 1 of last year, in which David writes, "I haven't heard you tell me you love me in so long, or that you miss me, and haven't felt it neither." Then it gets sexy, including a...tracing...of the outline of his peen? "No self-respecting catfish puts their return address on an envelope," notes Max. "This person wants to be found."

The Excuses

"He doesn't have a smartphone." He was on his way to meet her "for Christmas" (in 2014, I assume, though Andria doesn't specify) when "he got pulled over by the police, and they arrested him for contraband in his car."

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

"Now he's on house arrest. I've stopped going to school."

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Gif: Previously.TV

"He was actually supposed to come and get me, and we were supposed to start this life." Why can't Andria quit David when he keeps showing her he's not reliable? "It's just hard to get rid of and act like it never happened." Of the pretty clear evidence that "David" is really Christina, Andria declares, "I don't feel like I have been talking to a woman." Okay! "The person I've been talking to sounds like a dude." She then plays a voicemail from David, and...Max is not so sure.

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"I think you gotta start making space for the possibility that this could be that woman," says Max. "He couldn't do that to me, you know?" says Andria.

Oh, one thing for which NO excuse is offered? Recently, Andria suffered a miscarriage -- which is a horrible loss, of course. AND YET, if she's been so devoted to David for so long, how did this pregnancy even happen? (I don't have an answer, because no one ever asks her.)

The Investigation

Nev and Max start with the photos Christina had sent Andria, pausing at one of her with a surgical mask on, which for some reason really unsettles Max. Earlier:

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Now, as they start sleuthing:

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...Why, exactly? What's the big deal? If this were the only shot Christina had sent, I can see why Max might be slightly bothered, but there have also been a bunch with her entire face visible. Maybe she was going as a SARS patient for Hallowe'en. Maybe, as Nev suggests in response, SHE WORKS IN A HOSPITAL. You're going to be saying she's a demon next.

Anyway. Nev and Max pretty much agree that there's no point looking any further than the information on the DRIVER'S LICENSE "David"/Geo/Christina sent Andria, but they do anyway, starting with the phone number Andria's been using to call "David Walker." No results found. The email Andria's been using has the prefix "geostain" -- "Geo" just like what "David" said when he sent all the photos of Christina and said "he" was a woman? HUH. Whatever interface they use says the gender of that user is "Female," and when they click on it...

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

"That's Christina," says Max, recognizing a bunch of her photos from Andria's phone. End of investigation.

The Presentation Of Findings

Max and Nev meet Andria and her best friend Camille at a coffee shop. Camille and Andria, coincidentally, met in sixth grade, so: right around the time Andria met David online. Camille reports that there have been times they've tried to go out and "David had ruined it" by calling Andria over and over. "I can wake up to, like, twenty-five to thirty missed calls," Andria agrees, and a voicemail after every call. Jesus, "David," have some dignity! Nev asks Camille whether she's up to speed on the photos of Geo/Christina, and Camille says she is, but like Andria, she doesn't believe they're actually "David" on the basis of how "his" voice sounds; she's talked to "David" on the phone before. In fact, she says, she tried to have "a heart-to-heart" with him to impress upon him how important it is that he show up in person for Andria, but he "flipped it on her." Camille wants Andria to get "closure" and "move on." So she wants this to end the way it should, yet in ten years hasn't convinced Andria to give up on this increasingly ridiculous fantasy, which I would say makes Camille half a good friend.

Nev and Max reveal the evidence, basically all of which Andria...already knows but has been strenuously trying to ignore. Nev pulls up the Geo Stain Facebook profile, and even though Andria knows "David" has an email that starts with "geostain," when she sees that handle next to Christina's face, Andria is AGHAST.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Calm it down, Andria, this isn't a silent movie. They bleep Max as he says Christina's last name, but he utters it so slowly that it's very easy to lip-read. Nev says, in case they've been too subtle, "Christina [Redacted] is David." Andria can't believe it! Even though Christina was so determined that Andria know it, she sent HER DRIVER'S LICENSE with HER ADDRESS VISIBLE. "How do you, like, put words to that?" Andria wonders. "Jesus, I'm an idiot"?

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Based on Camille's (a) lack of shock and (b) failure to offer Andria any kind of physical support, I'm guessing that despite what she said, Camille wasn't actually as certain as Andria that David was definitely not a woman this whole time. Meanwhile, Andria covers her face and cries, reminding us that she's been at this with David for "a long time" and adding, "I never, like, told lies or nothing." Hmm, well, since no one said you did, that's kind of a weird non sequitur. Oh well, I'm sure it doesn't mean anything! "I do believe that she probably means a lot of what she says," Max asserts, on no evidence (I mean, other than that if Christina really doesn't have any kind of feelings for Andria, this is a pretty big waste of her time and effort). Nev finally offers to try to set up a meeting with Christina. Andria would like that to happen.

Max takes Andria and Camille to the car, leaving Nev inside the coffee shop to call. "David" is cagey immediately, not identifying "him"self when Nev asks whom he's speaking to, so Nev goes ahead and says they're pretty sure "David" is Christina. After a pause, Christina asks to call Nev back, but Nev barrels ahead, saying Andria's upset and confused and wants to meet. Christina asks why, if Andria now knows who she really is. "You guys have been talking since you were teenagers," says Nev, and I guess the fact that we are watching this episode means that they actually both were, since if Christina were way older this would probably be some kind of crime, "and that's not something that just goes away." Christina doesn't commit to a meeting, so Nev whinily tries to guilt her into getting back to him right away. But when Max comes back in with Andria and Camille, Nev reminds them that they do know where Christina lives: "We don't need to wait for her to say 'thumbs up' to get on a plane and fly to Chicago tomorrow morning, whether she likes it or not. I don't really think it matters." "She owes you that much," Max agrees. Ambush Alert!

Max and Nev are in a car with Andria the next day driving to Christina's when Nev gets a text from "David" signing off on a meeting. Has Andria accepted, yet, that her boyfriend of ten years is actually a woman? "I've accepted that. Like, I have to see it talk and move at the same time." First of all: "it"? Second, what's she going to compare it to? Third, Andria's next stop should be at Intervention so Jeff VanVonderen can take her to headband rehab.

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The Confrontation

Not much suspense here: they knock on the door at Christina's...

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...and Christina comes out. She confirms that she's been posing as David the whole time: "It started off totally as a joke -- a bet, really. Twenty-five-dollar bet." "Twenty-five dollars," Andria quietly repeats. And was that amount compounded based on how long Christina could keep it up? Because otherwise, when you break it down, her per-hour rate is fractions of a cent! Christina was around the same age as Andria when they met on Bebo. Nev asks whether Christina was attracted to girls at the time, and Christina readily replies that she has been all her life. "Do you have, kind of, a full concept of what she's been through on her side?" asks Max, leadingly. "I'm sure she been through a lot," says Christina. "You put her through a lot of hoops she keeps on jumping through," Max adds. True, but note the second half of your sentence: Andria didn't have to jump through them.

Nev mentions the "trouble with the law" that "David" had, with Andria piping up to specify she means the "house arrest" he was supposedly on. Christina doesn't even know what she's talking about at first, and then laughs as she remembers that she did tell Andria that. Apparently, it is not true. Max brings up Andria's having dropped out of school on promises that she and "David" could be together: "You didn't mean that?" "Basically," Christina confirms. "Why not just pull the plug on it?" Max asks. "She was there for me!" Christina offers. Nev asks Christina to describe the nature of their relationship, and Christina weirdly calls it "a bond," describing Andria as someone she could "get away" and "talk to": "'Cause I don't really, you know, have friends much." They squabble a little over whether Andria knows Christina at all, Christina saying she cares about Andria in the sense that she doesn't wish her any specific harm (I'm paraphrasing), but that she's not in love with her. Christina also claims that she "left it alone," but Andria brings up the constant calls and texts as proof that Christina seemed pretty determined to keep things going between them: "You could cry 'til you fell asleep if I didn't answer the phone." "I didn't have that bond with nobody else," says Christina. "I don't have no one else that I call a friend."

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Just going to pause here and say that's twice now Christina's said she doesn't have friends, IN CASE IT COMES UP AGAIN.

Max hears out Christina's characterization of her own feelings and announces that he doesn't buy it, essentially saying that she couldn't have invested so much effort into the relationship just for shits and giggles and that she's denying it now because she's embarrassed. "I saw the letter," he tells her. "That thing was written with passion. You can't fake that." You...can? People do? YOU'VE BEEN SEEING THAT FOR FOUR SEASONS NOW? Christina laughs: "I was about to say thank you."

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Gif: Previously.TV

"That was a fake love letter?" asks Nev. "I don't believe that," sniffs Max. "It's not our place: I'm just saying, I know that's not true." At this point, I'm 50% in agreement with Max based solely on how big a job keeping up this lie would be, and 50% pretty sure when a liar is caught out and starts confessing, she has less reason to lie more. Christina didn't need Nev or Max to believe the letter was true: it was for Andria, and clearly, it worked. "Because you wanted to make sure she stayed dedicated to being your close friend," Nev clarifies. "Basically," says Christina.

And THEN? "I just feel like it's full of shit," says Andria. (Again: "it"? Moving on.) "Don't sit up here and get mad at me over something that you did also," Christina shoots back. "She lied to me too!" Nev shoots a look at Andria, who...does look kind of guilty.

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"When did I lie?" asks Andria, tentatively. "At first you was telling me you was another female," says Christina. Andria starts stammering denials. "A white girl," Christina adds. "'A white girl,'" Andria repeats incredulously. "She was sending me pictures of another female," Christina tells Nev. "I was in sixth grade, how'm I even finna know how to make up somebody picture and put it up here," says Andria -- and finally, with the context of this sentence, I understand what "finna" means, so thanks, Catfish! "That don't even make no sense," says Andria dismissively. "The same way I was able to do it," says Christina, chuckling. "That was you," says Andria, waving her finger. "That ain't me." Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Max changes the subject to the fact that Christina is definitely the one they currently know lied more (I'm paraphrasing), and when Nev tries to wrap this up with a mention of tomorrow's Couch Time, Christina says she'd rather not: "I don't think there's no reason to." I agree, since I know how this is going to end: Christina doesn't really care that much about Andria's lying, and that's barely going to get discussed at all anyway. However, there are twelve more minutes to fill.

The Pre-Post-Confrontation Confrontation Confrontation

Before getting back together with Christina the next day, Nev and Max go to Andria's hotel room, where Nev says he doesn't think there's any point in Andria and Christina staying in touch anymore. Andria agrees, and figures Couch Time will be more of "a goodbye." Nev calls to set something up; she says she'd be willing to, but adds of Andria, "She has to come back down to reality and she has to sit up there and, like, be real. She know-- You know what I'm sayin'? She faked it for eight years and I faked it for ten years....I didn't do nothing that she didn't do. And she was wrong also. I don't know what she told y'all -- like, I have pictures. She been lyin' to me for nine years also, so I can't be 100 if she's not gonna be 100%." Nev:

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Max:

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Nev decides not to get into that, confirming that she will meet and, hopefully, adding that they can "end this on good terms." Pretty sure that train has sailed, buddy. When Nev's hung up, poor Max is so annoyed he can't even speak, and Andria unwisely barrels into the silence, saying, "That's just the kind of stuff that just make me mad all over again." "She seems to have lied a lot," Max concedes, "but if you were also faking your picture -- if there's any validity to the story Christina's telling -- then we gotta know that, because that needs to be represented." "Is any of that true -- about her thinking you were someone else?" Nev asks, not aggressively. "NO," says Andria, before he's even gotten the whole question out. "Only...'cause...I made that profile page to find that person on MySpace, and that's when they did not accept me as a friend." I think I speak for us all when I say: wut? Nev can somehow parse this to mean the following: "David" was on MySpace. He didn't friend Andria's original profile. Andria created ANOTHER profile with a different photo but otherwise all the same information as on her real profile. "So why did you do that?" asks a producer offscreen.

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"I was twelve" probably would have been an okay response to the question of why Andria did it in the first place, but that still leaves open the question of why she kept it up for either eight or nine years afterward. Nev untangles this further: "David" had told her he "didn't have social media," but then she found someone who seemed to be him on MySpace and tried to friend him by faking her identity but not that hard? Nev asks whether the other "Andria" profile is still active and she says it's not. Max asks whether she'd ever admitted to Christina that she'd lied to her about her pictures, and Andria says she did: "That's when I had stopped the MySpace page." WHICH WAS WHEN?! "That was not that far along from when we had first met." BUT WHEN??? Max straight-up asks whether the "eight years" claim is accurate, and Andria starts several sentences she doesn't finish before settling on "It was a long time ago." WHEN????? Nev asks whether Andria's been sending "David" real photos of her real self since then, and she says she has. No follow-up. OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING. I'm sorry to be a gender essentialist BUT when it comes to scandalous gossipy stories, never send two men to do a woman's job. MEN DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO ASK. GOD.

"We are completely confused by this," says Nev, which is definitely true. "And to be perfectly honest, it doesn't really matter," he adds. Oh, IT DOESN'T? MAYBE TAKE A POLL ON THAT ONE, JESUS CHRIST!!! Max describes Christina's claims as "tit for tat," and Andria says, "It's annoying, it's really annoying." No, YOU ARE ANNOYING. Nev sums things up by saying that Andria and Christina have never communicated with each other in a functional way, so they should just end it. Yes, they should. Hurry up.

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

Nev, Max, and Andria go to meet Christina in a lounge or something downstairs at their hotel, and before they even go in to see her, Nev starts things out by telling Andria it's important that she admit to herself the part she had in it: "You played along in the relationship, you put up with stuff too long." That hasn't been emphasized enough, in my opinion, particularly AFTER THE DOSSIER OF CHRISTINA'S VITAL STATISTICS came Andria's way, but here we are.

Everyone meets up in a private room where Christina's waiting for them. Andria duly takes responsibility for her part in keeping up the lie of their relationship, and says she's sorry about the ambush. Christina apologizes for her part...but, hilariously, she doesn't accept Andria's apology: "You don't even know what you did....You was bogus. I was too." Andria just says, "Okay." Max urges her to say whatever she's thinking, and she mealymouths something about this being the same as "it has been this whole time." "You want the apology to be your way, you want everything to be your way, but it's not," says Christina. "You guys are both to blame for staying in this thing for ten years," says Max, since no one's actually going to hold Andria accountable for her own lies or make her explain exactly what they were to anyone's satisfaction. When Christina says they hadn't told each other they loved each other, Nev brings up the letter, and Christina says she wrote it because Andria asked her to. In October of last year. So maybe when Andria was putting together a plan to get herself on TV. Maybe.

Then, lord, I guess in order to build empathy for the one who is (maybe) the bigger liar of the two (though we have no way of knowing, really), Max tells Christina, "I think it's sad that you say that you have no friends." "I never said I didn't have no friends," says Christina. "I said I didn't have no friends that I have a bond with that I had with her." Okay, first of all, she did say she has no friends -- twice, in fact. Second, the way she keeps talking about this "bond" makes me wish that Nev or Max OR THE OFFSCREEN PRODUCER had asked her to describe exactly what that word means to her, because it seems to suggest the kind of intimacy that a person would have in a romantic relationship -- something that no one has asked Christina if she's had in real life during the time she was involved (however she defines that) with Andria. Is the issue that even though Christina has known since she was a kid that she's gay, she's not totally okay with what that means in terms of relationships, and that's been a big part of the confusion here? I DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER TO THAT EITHER BECAUSE NO ONE ASKS. Anyway, Christina and Max pointlessly natter about the question of what she said about her friends or lack thereof for a while and since we all watched the episode and know what she said, it's very annoying, and no one in the room has the sense to suggest that they just PLAY THE TAPE for Christina and end this. Christina keeps finding what she thinks are loopholes in Max's speech to the point where he gets so frustrated, he announces that he's Team Andria after all: Christina made him doubt that Andria was telling them the truth about her, but now Christina's irritated him so much that he's decided Andria's more credible. "I don't think she deserves someone like you in her life," says Max. "I don't want to be in her life," says Christina, "so you just wasted five minutes of my life." Max notes that Christina's wasted ten YEARS of Andria's life, and Christina says, "That's her!" Hilariously, Christina can't finish arguing with Max because she's forgotten his name, but finally, Andria just says, "Let's go," and they do, AT LAST.

Hugs?

There is no hug.

The Aftermath

Two months later, Andria has gone back to school to finish studying to become a social worker. God, good luck to her clients. Nev and Max ask what's going on with Christina, and Andria says Christina sent her "this long text message about how sorry she was about what she said on the show." She apparently forwarded it to Max, so he corroborates what he saw in it -- that Christina said she does have "strong feelings" for Andria and wants to be with her. Andria says she's been getting texts like that every day, and has told Christina she's uncomfortable with how things have gone for them. So: more of what she got from David.

Then they call Christina and ask if she and Andria have had a chance to talk. "We haven't been in contact," says Christina. Nev looks at Max, who drops his head in defeat. Nev lets that lie...lie, and asks whether Christina's learned anything from this experience. "Yeah," she says. "Be more open." Cool.

The Life Lessons Learned

Don't spend more than ten days in a relationship with someone who won't meet you, never mind ten years. Don't fake your profile or you really lose the moral high ground with better liars. Max has one and a half feet out the door of this show.

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