Screen: MTV

The Eight-Year Itch

Lauren and Derek have been an online couple for almost a decade. But will that end when they meet IRL?

The Client

Lauren, a single mother in Tyler, Texas.

The Beloved

Derek, with whom Lauren's been in an online relationship, off and on, since they "met" on MySpace eight years ago (when she was fourteen and he was sixteen), and who lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Clues

During one of their "off" periods, Lauren got engaged to someone she presumably knew in real life (though the show didn't talk about that bro much); when she changed her relationship status on Facebook, Derek deleted her, so she broke off the engagement in order to get back into his life, though anyone who's seen this show before might interpret that move on Derek's part as an easy way to step away from a situation that had gotten out of his control. Once, Lauren found herself in Maryland, a five-hour drive from Derek's house, and when she called him about meeting, he didn't want to. Also, in eight years, Lauren and Derek have never once webchatted. Lauren's platonic friend Ryan notes that if he had been talking to a girl he loved for eight years, he would have taken steps to meet her in person at some point.

The Excuses

When Lauren would offer to buy Derek a webcam, he would refuse to let her spend any money on him. With regard to the in-person meeting, he told her that he had roommates and that they might not be cool with her showing up, because???

The Investigation

Reverse-image-searching the photos on Derek's Facebook page doesn't return any results. A significant number of Derek's Facebook friends appear to be people he went to high school with in Maryland, and all seem to be legit themselves. Nev gets excited that Derek seems to be on the up-and-up...until he remembers that they have Derek's phone number. And when they search it, the number turns out to be registered to an R. LeVourne, who appears to be not a single kid in his early twenties, but a fortyish married man with kids.

The Presentation Of Findings

Nev and Max are cautious as they let Lauren know what their research turned up, but she seems unconcerned about the business with the phone number: she says that Derek has had that phone number the whole time she's known him. Since she still wants to meet Derek, despite the intrusion of R. LeVourne onto the scene, Nev and Max call Derek and offer to bring Lauren to Maryland to meet him. Derek sounds shifty in the way that's typical of the beloveds on this show, saying that he's a person who likes to have things planned out and that he's not sure he could rearrange his schedule in order to work in a visit from Lauren, like he's the governor or something, but finally agrees. Nev and Max tell Lauren, who cries. Then she has to confess to her dad and stepmom that she's been in a potentially fake relationship for the better part of a decade, and everyone cries because they don't want Lauren to get kicked right in her giant heart.

The Confrontation

Guess what? Derek is really Derek. And he seems not to have been hiding any kind of big secret; he had just put Lauren on such a pedestal that he never felt like he had his affairs sufficiently in order to be worthy of her. But now he's gotten himself a better job, so the time was right. (A cynical person might add that the time might be right now because someone else is paying the travel expenses for this summit. People can be so cynical!) As for the webcam thing: Derek just never realized it was such a big deal to Lauren that they webchat. Okey dokey.

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

Not really much of a confrontation, since everything's on the up and up after all: Lauren brings her son, Mason, to meet Derek at a petting zoo. Animals are fed. Bonds are formed.

The Dénouement

TLA.

The Aftermath

Two months later, when Nev and Max check in, Lauren and Derek are together in meatspace! They've visited one another several times, and Derek's even met Lauren's dad. They plan to get engaged within the next year, which...I don't get. Just get engaged now if you're already talking about it? Derek's also trying to figure out what the deal is with his phone being registered to R. LeVourne.

The Life Lessons Learned

Buy a webcam. If your online girlfriend is within a five-hour drive of your house, maybe go meet her and she won't get engaged to some other bro and/or knocked up by a third bro. Catfish scheduled a rare happy ending early in the season so you wouldn't get so depressed by the first three episodes that you stop watching.

For Emmy Nomination Week we ask:

How could Catfish make itself a contender to become an Outstanding Reality Show nominee?

  • Nev and Max could do more stunts in their swimsuits à la Kathy Griffin in My Life On The D List.
  • While chatting with clients, assess the values of their tcotchkes as on Antiques Roadshow.
  • Fix not just love lives but dogs, like Cesar Millan does on The Dog Whisperer.
  • Suggest that clients avoid the pitfalls of online relationships by giving up technology and moving into Frontier House.
  • Bust some myths, in the style of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
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