Screens: MTV

Does Felipe Have A Fighting Chance With Jasmin?

A would-be boxer is talking about marrying his online girlfriend, who's training to be a model and doesn't have a phone. Seems promising!

The Client

Felipe, a single father, amateur boxer, and -- judging by his incredibly nasal voice -- chronic sinus sufferer in Calvert, Texas; he's about to join the military, so before he goes to start his basic training, he wants to make sure he has someone to come home to. Ohhhhhhhh...no.

The Beloved

Jasmin, a hotel employee/trainee model in Houston.

The Clues

They've never met in person. They've never spoken on the phone.

The Excuses

Whenever she and Felipe make plans to meet, Jasmin has something come up that's unavoidable and forces her to cancel on him (hours after he's turned up to meet her and she's failed to show up, apparently). As for their never having spoken on the phone, that's because she doesn't have one. "A voice?" No, a phone. She told Felipe she doesn't have a phone. AND HE BELIEVED HER.

Nev: What twenty-two-year-old girl who has a job--

Max: And is a model--

Nev: -- doesn't have a phone?

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No, no. That's why you're A FUCKING MORON.

The Investigation

Before they even get to it and are just getting the pathetic backstory at Felipe's stupid boxing gym, Max starts by objectifying Jasmin.

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Is Felipe offended to hear Max speak this way about the woman he's already told us he would like to marry?

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No, HE LOVES IT. Cool attitude toward women, guys -- and it continues when Nev and Max start their search and Max judges that Jasmin's posted a lot of photos that are "sexually suggestive." I don't think a girl shooting a bikini mirror selfie is "suggestive" if both hands are visible and her tongue is not, dude: if you think an image of her body is suggestive in and of itself, that maybe says more about YOU than it does about the motives you're imputing to her? But whatever: they image-search it and immediately find it among a cache of photos of someone named Paris Roxanne. Now, normally here's where I'd lay into Felipe for having been too lazy to do this, but given what we've seen of him already, I'm much more willing to cut him slack for being legitimately incapable of doing that. I don't want to speculate about, like, which stream he was in at school? But he is a boxer and maybe there have been some untreated head injuries.

But back to business. There are a LOT of Parises Roxanne on the internet, like Kiloni last week, and I guess I have to give this new generation of internet liars some credit for having figured out that if you're going to steal photos, you might as well also steal their real owner's name: at least that way you create confusion that will give you some cover if your mark gets suspicious and starts looking into it. But you can't fool detectives like Max and Nev, who find what appears to be the real Paris Roxanne, who has 132,000 followers on Instagram. (Sometime since this was filmed, she appears to have made her account private.)

Nev then Googles her name and finds a Newsweek article titled "The Birdman's Vengeful Ghost." You can read it, so I won't get into the details here, but the short version is that (a) Paris Roxanne is a real person (with a probably fake name, or at least a surname that she doesn't use à la "Lea Michele"); (b) she got screwed over by a scammer who has since been arrested; and (c) she probably should have taken her Instagram private BEFORE Nev started searching on Felipe's behalf...unless she did and the production convinced her to make it public for just one day so that Nev could "find her" and this is all fake.

Nev and Max send Paris Roxanne a brief video message requesting a FaceTime date, and this girl is so thirsty she responds ten minutes later with her Skype handle. They tell her Felipe's story, and she confirms that there are still countless fake profiles, and that "it's been terrible." At their request, she makes a video message for Felipe to tell him she is not the person he's been talking to. And then they...stop before trying to find out whom Felipe has been talking to? Even though whoever it is apparently was NOT smart enough not to use a unique name to distinguish him or her from all the other Paris Roxanne fakes, so it wouldn't be that hard? Guys, I know you're excited that Max is back at last, but maybe more investigating and less time for spooning and tickle fights.

The Presentation Of Findings

Nev and Max arrive at Felipe's family compound to see the plot of land where Felipe plans to build a house for himself and his daughter and Jasmin one day, just to ratchet up the pathos for what they're about to tell them. However, the editors make sure to show us the top of Felipe's head for the first time so that we can see the stupid ridges he's shaved into his head and feel less sorry for him?

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Whether that was the intent or not, that's definitely what occurs in this household.

When Max and Nev start walking Felipe through their search, he says he's never heard of Paris Roxanne before. I think maybe Felipe doesn't read a lot of Newsweek? JUST A WILD GUESS. But when he sees the proof that this Paris Roxanne is definitely not his Jasmin and vice versa, his eyes get misty, and it's a little sad even though he is so so so stupid that he deserves a lot of this. "She doesn't have a phone"? Come the fuck on, Felipe. They play him Paris's video message and then he really has no choice but to understand he's headed for bad news, nasally mumbling about not being able to find his happiness and trying not to break into full-on sobs. He goes outside to collect himself, and after a moment Nev and Max come out to see if he wants them to continue; he does, so Nev says he and Max will send "Jasmin" a Facebook message (which is how "Jasmin" and Felipe have been communicating this whole time, because, as you may recall, she doesn't have a phone) to set up an in-person meeting.

Felipe goes to punch the feelings out on his heavy bag while Max and Nev head back to their depressing commuter hotel, Max commenting, "He doesn't expect this kind of deceit because he's not like that." Okay, that's not the first time this sentiment has been expressed about a dupe on this show, but I have news for Max: even truthful people can and should have a modicum of healthy skepticism in order to get through life. I know I keep harping on this, but seriously: "SHE DOESN'T HAVE A PHONE"?! Give people the benefit of the doubt and everything, but that should have been THE END! Here's what happened, basically:

Screen: Fox

Screen: Fox

Max:

Screen: Fox

Screen: Fox

Whatever: they get back to the hotel and for some reason take turns reading aloud the email they've drafted to send "Jasmin," and the next morning, she responds: "Is this really Nev?"

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That's not audacity, that's common sense, something that, if Felipe ever had it, apparently got punched out of him a long time ago. Nev's all, "I know, I know, it's okay, I'll play this game"...and then just write back that it's really him. Yeah, no, you idiot, anyone could do that. Naturally, "Jasmin" asks him to send her a photo so she knows it's really him, so he scribbles something about Felipe on a slip of paper and obliges. "Jasmin" asks whether Felipe's upset, and they say that of course he is. "Jasmin" then asks, if Felipe already knows she is not the person in her photos, why does he need someone else to contact her? Max complains about her attitude as Nev writes back asking to set up a meeting. "Jasmin" says she's in Bryan, "the next big town over," and sends them the address to a park in Hearne where they can meet.

The Confrontation

We know by now that nothing good ever happens in a park, and this time is no different. On the way there, Nev and Max warn Felipe that because they didn't try to find out, they don't know anything about the person they're about to meet -- age, sex -- and that Felipe should be prepared for anything. At length, a car pulls up and a guy and a girl get out. Asked whether he recognizes them, Felipe says he knows the girl: they "hung out a few times." "Did you 'dis' her?" asks Max, and while his hands are both occupied holding his camera, you can hear the air quotes in his voice, he's so awkward about it. Felipe says actually it was the other way around. HMMMMMMMM.

The two groups reach each other: the woman's name is Alex, and the dude is Luis. Nev cordially shakes and introduces Max while Felipe stays well back. Once introductions are complete, Luis and Alex glance at each other and kind of snicker. "WHAT'S FUNNY?" Nev demands, and Alex says it's not funny; she's just nervous. Luis looks like he's having the time of his life, though!

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"Who's Jasmin," Max asks, and after rocking from foot to foot for a second, Luis says, "Me." Max is like, why are you here, and Alex says that she's Luis's best friend. She's there because she had been dating Felipe, but that at some point during their relationship, she found out he was also talking to "Jasmin" online, and consequently ended it, and even though she knew "Jasmin" was Luis, and that Felipe's "relationship" with "Jasmin" (lord) predated her time with Felipe, that's not really cool, and you know what? Fair enough. Luis ratted Felipe out to Alex when Alex told him she was dating Felipe, but Luis and Felipe had never met until right now. Before establishing that Luis, as "Jasmin," was the one who initiated things with Felipe, Nev for some reason asks whether Alex and Felipe had sex when they were seeing each other, like...what does that have to do with anything? That's just Nev being fucking nosy.

Nev turns back to Luis to say, "You've had, like, an eight-month pretty romantic relationship with Felipe as a female." (Say "woman," Nev, never "female.") "So: why?" "It wasn't really romantic," says Luis. "Yes it was," says Nev authoritatively. "You guys talked about being together, you talked about, like, a future together...." Luis says he "didn't have no feelings, it was just, like, whatever." Max starts to get even more personal, asking whether Luis uses the Jasmin profile to meet guys. Luis says he doesn't. "So then why Felipe?" Max asks. Luis doesn't really have an answer, and when Nev asks whether he's attracted to Felipe, Luis says he isn't. "Are you attracted to men?" "No," says Luis immediately. I'm not so sure? But once he says he's not, Max and Nev should...stop. It's not Luis's job to come out for them on their stupid TV show.

Max asks, again, why Luis did it if not to meet dudes, and Luis doesn't really have a good answer: "It was just a messing game." Felipe wasn't the only mark, he said: "It was multiple people." Multiple people, or multiple guys?, Max and Nev want to know. Luis claims there were also girls; I doubt that too.

Felipe wanders off, and while Alex complains that she felt used by Felipe, Max checks in with Felipe, who's bummed that Luis treated him like a joke. But, he says, if he hadn't wasted so much time on Jasmin, he might have "changed [his] dreams to being with her," indicating Alex. I...don't even know where to start with THAT shit. I guess they're not very compelling dreams if they're so eminently transferable, and also, how lucky Alex is that Felipe might have inserted her into his dreams if he hadn't been panting after a model who was light-years out of his league! Ugh to everyone.

Nev brings Felipe back over to Alex, who expresses regret that she didn't tell Felipe about Luis. Felipe denies that he was cheating on Alex with "Jasmin." Luis knows he should have told Felipe the truth and ended things, but he didn't know how. Max gets back to still not knowing why Luis did any of this, adding that it doesn't seem like LUIS knows why he did it. I think Luis knows perfectly well why he did it but doesn't want to say it on TV? That he is gay? And that he's trying out relationships with dudes in a way that seems safe?

And THEN, Luis says he's gotten a lot of static from people in his life because, when he was "little," a male teacher "tried to molest" him for five years. I think "tried" probably doesn't belong in that sentence, or else it doesn't make sense. That said, it's awful. He told his mother; she tried to involve the police, but nothing happened, except that the story got out and he got hassled by people at school. He felt ostracized...but then? "I see this show Catfish and stuff, so just like, it just got to me one day. I started a profile to mess with people, 'cause if I can't get my freedom, or my, I guess, peace, I'm going to get it my way." IN OTHER WORDS, rather than serving as a cautionary tale about online deception, apparently Catfish is an instruction manual! Max and Nev look like they don't feel great about that!

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Max keeps trying to get Luis to admit he's in love with Felipe, and Luis keeps not doing so.

Nev wraps things up by saying he thinks Felipe got all the answers he needed, and Alex saying she'd like to be friends. It's the first step to crashing Felipe's "dream"!

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

Felipe is not interested in spending any more time with Luis, so Max and Nev meet him for coffee by themselves. Max resumes trying to shove Luis out of the closet, and Luis keeps resisting. He does say, of Jasmin, "I was trying to create her in a way where I could express myself."

"It sounds like you don't feel like anybody really knows who you are," says Nev. Luis agrees. He blames his molestation for all his life's unhappiness, and says if it hadn't happened, he'd be different now: "Dad's little perfect son." "What you did yesterday was really brave," says Max, "like, coming out and saying what happened to you? That's hard to do. Nothing else is going to be as scary as what you've just done." BACK OFF MAX but seriously, between this candid of Luis...

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...and his new look on Chatfish...

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...like, we're all on the same page, here, right?

"You're allowed to be who you are now," says Max. HE IS NOT TAKING THE BAIT. GIVE UP.

Then they go say goodbye to Felipe, but who cares.

Hugs?

There are definitely no hugs between Felipe and Luis since they don't meet again, but not even Nev and Max hug Luis when they leave their Couch Time. Maybe if he'd come out and given them a bigger TV "Moment."

The Aftermath

Two months later, Luis thanks Max and Nev for helping to open him up. "So the Jasmin profile's totally finished?" asks Nev. Luis says yes...although, on Chatfish, it comes out (heh) that Luis had used it to interact with people as recently as January, and that although it was deactivated, it apparently didn't happen until yesterday. Honestly, people who are successfully tricked by it deserve to be tricked if they buy that SHE DOESN'T HAVE A PHONE. He regrets hurting Felipe and hopes they can be friends someday.

Felipe hasn't had contact with Alex or Luis since the show, but he'd be willing to have a drink with Luis if he wanted to (...?). He's seeing someone he works with now. I bet she has a phone.

The Life Lessons Learned

Stop talking to your online girlfriend when you land one in real life. Seek therapy for your issues instead of taking pointers from MTV reality shows. NEVER TAKE "I DON'T HAVE A PHONE" FOR AN ANSWER.

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