Why Doesn't MTV Want You To See The Story Of Blake And Kiersten?
Shenanigans surround a 'lost' episode from last fall that forms the first half of Catfish's 'two-part season finale' of totally unrelated episodes.
If you watched last week's Catfish live -- and only if you watched last week's Catfish live -- you would have noted the information at the very end that the show was winding up its third season with a "two-night finale." You might have then raced to your DVR's to-do list to make sure you had set it to record an extra episode on July 8, and you probably hadn't, because whether you set a season pass or (like this OCD nerd) set your DVR recordings one at a time for extra precision, you might have missed the fact that the episode titled "Blake & Kiersten" was one you hadn't seen, because it wasn't marked "new," because technically it wasn't: on DirecTV, at least, it still bore its original airdate, which was 09/17/2013, though it never aired then; MTV aired episodes on 09/10 and 09/24 last year, but for reasons unknown, there was no Catfish the week between them and this one went into the MTV vault. And if you did manage to watch "Blake & Kiersten," despite the high level of difficulty/MTV's disavowal of the episode -- the show's official Twitter feed didn't live-tweet it like it has literally every other episode this season, and Max only alerted his followers that it was on three-quarters of the way through it -- you would be able to tell how old it was based on the fact that it was from the era in Season 2 when Nev was still limping around with an injured foot or ankle or whatever the fuck he did to it.
In Max's (confused, late) tweet, he identifies "Blake & Kiersten" as "[o]ne of out [sic] best eps of #catfish ever," and he's...actually not wrong, as you will see. So...why has MTV buried it? Not only did it sabotage fans' and fans' DVRs' ability to watch it by putting it on the wrong night/in the wrong time slot and airing it close to a year after it was originally scheduled it and not drawing attention to it in any of the usual ways, but MTV.com hasn't posted the episode OR EVEN THE USUAL ACT 1 SNEAK PEEK, and apparently the entire rest of the internet (wink) doesn't know it happened. It's all very mysterious.
— Nev Schulman (@NevSchulman) July 9, 2014
— Tara Ariano (@TaraAriano) July 9, 2014
All of this means that my ability to cover it is going to be severely hampered as I have no choice but to use my DVR recording. But even as MTV tries to whitewash the official Catfish record, I SHALL BEAR WITNESS.
Blake, an entrepreneur originally of Los Angeles temporarily living in Houston.
Kiersten (which my fingers keep wanting to type "Kierstein"), a sometime model who works in professional sports, location unknown.
He's tried to meet her on many occasions, all of which were scuttled at the last minute by "major traumatic events in her life"; she claimed her godfather was David Hasselhoff...
...and that she'd dated Michael Phelps; when Blake researched her himself, he discovered that her name was really Kendra (which she confirmed), and that all her photos and those of her online friends and loved ones were fake; no one mentions this, but the fact that Kiersten's Twitter bio claims she works for the NFL and MLB seems suspect to me.
On the occasion when he drove to the hotel in Beverly Hills where she told him she was staying and where he should come meet her, she kept him waiting for fifteen minutes and then texted to tell him something she'd kept from him: she has a son. Max:
So they didn't meet because she had her son with her at the time, even though she had invited him there to meet her. According to Blake, this sort of thing has happened, when he's tried to meet her, "probably fifty times."
This segment starts a bit early because when Max and Nev first meet Blake, he walks them through what he's already discovered on his own. When he figured out that Kiersten wasn't Kiersten but Kendra, Kendra copped to the fact that she'd been using photos of a woman named Sara Grace (who has apparently since deleted her Twitter profile or at least made it private). I'm just going to quote Blake directly: "How they met was, Kendra went to an all-girls' school. That's where she met Sara; they've been friends ever since." Blake. Do you hear yourself? That makes ZERO SENSE. If someone were going to make a fake profile, in what universe would she steal photos from SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HER and thus would PROBABLY SEE?! Furthermore:
Sara Grace didn't go to no all-girls' school. She dropped out of Grade 10 to strip with a fake ID. #catfish
— Tara Ariano (@TaraAriano) July 9, 2014
Like this fucking moron deserves any more time after trying to meet this EXTREMELY OBVIOUS LIAR "fifty times," but whatever, moving on: after Kiersten was unmasked, Kendra would send Blake "snapshots of her Instagram." RED FLAG #1,000,000. When Max asks whether Blake followed her on Instagram -- "No" -- it turns out the reason is that "It's private." RED FLAG #1,000,0001. They look up the Instagram from which Blake has been receiving snapshots (EYE-ROLL) and find that while it is private, it's linked to a Facebook page belonging to a Kendra Shay. Blake:
"Well, is just-- that fake too?" Blake wonders. Nev and Max:
Like, I DON'T KNOW, DUDE, MAYBE??? Jesus Christ. Nev is basically like, People who are conventionally attractive don't TEND to need to fake their online profiles using photos of other conventionally attractive people, FUCKING USE YOUR HEAD. (I'm paraphrasing.)
So then we get to Max and Nev digging into Kendra on their own. They start on Kendra Shay's Facebook page, where all the photos are pretty standard cute-girl selfies and no photos of her alleged son. The few pics they Google Image search don't return any results.
They change tack and message the real Sara Grace to see what the deal is, so the investigation is suspended until she calls Nev back the next day. As soon as he drops the name "Kiersten Taylor," Sara is like, "Oh my God." Sara says she got a Facebook message a year ago from someone named Kendra: "She was really friendly, really nice, and she's like, 'My niece, named Kiersten, always looked at your pictures on Facebook with me, so can you, like, take a picture that says, like, "Kiersten" on a piece of paper and take a picture of it?'" And she did! She didn't, for example, think "Why are this stranger AND HER NIECE creeping my Facebook photos?" or "Maybe I should rethink my privacy settings?" or "Assuming that story is true which it clearly isn't, why wouldn't she ask for a photo with 'HI Kiersten' written on it?" Seriously, how thirsty is Sara Grace for affirmation that she would go along with any of this? The answer is extremely thirsty because she did. I had a problem with this last night, too, btw:
Not "Hi, Kiersten"? How dumb/vain is this fat-lip monster? #catfish
— Tara Ariano (@TaraAriano) July 9, 2014
"Fat-lip monster" looks pretty rough on the page, particularly since if you missed this episode -- WHICH YOU DID -- all you've seen of Sara Grace thus far is that photo of her up top with the Hass, where she just looks like a porn star ingenue. But here's where Nev and Max hop on Skype with her, and...
Okay, "monster" is still kind of offsides, but we have just finished seeing about fifty pictures of her at various stages in her life so even if it wasn't extremely obvious that these are not the lips God gave her because they are each the size of a bath pillow, we know what they looked like before, and she needs to COOL IT. Shorter Sara Grace: she did her own research and found a girl named Sarah Ordo; some girl named Kendra stole her pictures for a fake profile, and Sara is sad about it and hopes Nev and Max catch Kendra and shame her.
So they Google Sarah Ordo and sure enough, it's Headband McGoo from the Instagram snapshots Blake's been getting. They Skype her, and she knows all about Kiersten/Kendra too: she's been finding fake Kendra profiles with her photos all over social media for at least a year, and since some of the stolen photos are ones she had set to private, she figured out that the culprit was good old "Kiersten," with whom Sarah was Facebook friends. She's even witnessed Sara Grace chatting with "Kendra" on Twitter, with a photo of Sarah next to Kendra. Sarah thought it had stopped, but this is pretty much the definitive way for her to find out it hasn't.
Even though they haven't tracked down the voice Blake knows through their online sleuthing, Max and Nev go back to Blake and show him videos Sara Grace and Sarah Ordo made to prove to him that he hasn't been talking to either of them, which is when Blake finally groks that "Kendra" isn't "real-life friends" with Sara Grace at all. FUCKING DUH, OH MY GOD.
At this point, Nev checks in with Blake to see if he still feels a genuine connection with Kendra even if he now knows she isn't either of these girls. He gullibly says he still thinks there's a good person behind the lies. Oh, Blake, you fucking dummy.
But, Blake having signed off, Nev and Max go back to their hotel room and phone Kendra. After all the usual hedging, Kendra's like, sure, come meet me, I'm in Idaho.
Driving to the meeting, Nev calls Kendra for her address, and she's like, things are chaotic at my house right now, let's meet at a park. RED FLAG #1,000,0002.
Nothing good ever happens in a park. #catfish
— Tara Ariano (@TaraAriano) July 9, 2014
While Blake, Nev, and Max loiter in the park waiting for Kendra to show up, I just want to share with you some highlights from Blake's remarks about Kendra: what he was attracted to includes "everything, from looks to personal qualities" ("personal qualities"!); "As far as who she is as a person, I definitely see myself with someone like her"; "She would have never been able to get to this point, or get this close to me, if there wasn't something that kept me calling her back, interested. I want to meet her face to face and find out if this is the person for me."
Now, we already know that Kendra is neither the blonde nor the brunette whose pictures Blake's seen. But maybe he'll still be pleasantly surprised by the person who actually shows up. And here she is!
Here's where I had PLANNED to include a gif of Blake's eye-bugging, brick-shitting reaction, but since MTV is committed to keeping you from seeing this episode, a still shot will have to do.
But trust me. It's pretty good. If you can, try to line up a poker game with this goon.
Blake manages to recover the power of speech long enough to ask if they should stand or sit and I'm not saying he means "CAN you sit at this picnic table, large stranger?" but...maybe he does. Though it was immediately clear that Blake stopped being interested in Kendra's soul as soon as he found out that she's been housing it in a somewhat bigger container than he expected, he has to go through the charade of finding out more about her rather than running back to the car and never seeing her again.
Kendra says she lied to him "with the pictures," which was wrong, buuuuuuuuut: "People make mistakes. Every day." Sure, but they don't make a continuous mistake for several months and then double down on it when said "mistake" is exposed. "I don't understand why you couldn't have just been Kendra from Day One," Blake says, as though his eye-bugging, brick-shitting reaction wasn't an object lesson in why she might have done what she did, though to be fair I guess he didn't SEE his face when it was doing those things. She's been hurt by people in the past, she says vaguely, like they all do, and which isn't an explanation. To keep the conversation going, Nev asks what she thought when he called her, and Kendra says, "He must really want to meet me if he would go to these lengths to get Oprah and Gayle over here." Okay, that's a pretty good burn, Patrice. Even Blake chuckles!
The ice thus broken, Nev invites her to tell them about "the real Kendra." "I work for a sports firm?" she begins. Sure, lots of pro sports businesses have based their operations in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. Go on! Kendra doesn't do herself any favours with the wags on the internet by going on to say "I'm a huge sports fan" and "I travel a ton." She also has a son, "who's obviously not with us today." I guess she has to clarify that because he's imaginary and she could pretend he's just under the table or something. When Blake brings up the meeting at the hotel in Beverly Hills, she declines the opportunity to admit that she was never actually there. Which...like, she obviously wasn't.
Then things switch to Mega-Crazers Mode, as Kendra decides the way to go is to stack some new lies on top of the old ones. The photos on the second fake profile were courtesy of "a friend looking out for [her]," because after the hotel they thought Blake would never talk to her again, though whether she means "We thought he'd never talk to me again, so who cares if I lied to him more" or "We thought he'd never talk to me again, so I had to do something desperate to keep him interested" isn't clear. This opens the door for Max to ask how the fake profile business started in the first place, and Kendra says -- get this -- that there's "a group of girls" who've created fake profiles online, so that "when they go out to party," they could give guys their fake info in case the guys are creeps. Leaving aside the fact that this would be a crazily large drain on the supposed girls' supposed time, if this is a con they're supposedly running on guys they meet in person, THEN THOSE GUYS KNOW WHAT THEY ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE. Are these girls "going out to party" exclusively at those restaurants where you eat in the dark? WHAT THE FUCK?! No one calls her on this, SOMEHOW. Kendra claims that Sara Grace is one of the girls in this posse, and while I can believe that she would give out a fake number to a dork at a club, we already know she isn't okay with Kendra using her photos to trick dudes, and that they aren't friends. Whatever I may think about her whole porn-star vibe, she cried on Skype, and that seemed quite real.
Nev asks how Kendra met the liars' group, and Kendra gets coy about the details and defensive about why she's there. Blake accordingly goes on the offensive and says he doesn't believe she knows Sara Grace at all. "I don't show remorse like everybody else does," Kendra says, starting to cry. She says she came to this meeting because she "thinks so highly" of Blake, and she's hurt that he thinks she's such a sad liar that she'd use subterfuge to beg strangers for their photos. Then she throws a Hail Mary pass: "And if this is how you want to end it, to where you still think I'm lying to you, and I drove out here for nothing, and I'm still here instead of with my kid who has surgery, I'll go home!" A sick kid we never see? Classic Catfish. Angry flip accomplished, Kendra stomps off.
The next day, Nev and Max have an interim post-mortem with Blake and try to get him to say he thinks the relationship with Kendra is still worth trying to salvage. Blake will only say he hopes that Kendra will "come clean" so he can "get closure." So they call her and she says, "I'm all for being honest about this whole situation; I at least owe him that." She tries to get them to promise that they won't attack her this time, which they don't.
An hour later, Kendra rolls up to the hotel lobby, chewing gum. Nev politely asks after her fake son, and she claims he had "a doctor call" last night because he wasn't breathing too well. "Someone came over?" says Nev, because it's 2013 (at the time) and what the fuck doctor makes a house call, and Kendra smoothly confirms that, yes, someone came over, and that she may get a call telling her that they're about to admit her son to the hospital, in which case she'll have to go. Given her fake son's grave health issues, it's remarkable not only that she still showed up for this conversation but that she prepared by hot-rolling her hair and putting on false eyelashes!
WHAT A TROUPER.
Kendra prefaces her remarks by saying she'll "just be honest": she was afraid of Blake's rejecting her, so there was no right time for her to tell him the truth. Blake pushes her to go into more detail, and as she cries, she says she's admitting wrongdoing and apologizing and doesn't feel like she needs to "keep going deeper" for him, but her whole performance is apparently not working on anyone. Nev asks whether she and Sara Grace were ever really both using any of the fake profiles at the same time, and Kendra says, "Not at the same time, no." Max is like, be real, you stole Sara Grace's photos without her knowing it in order to deceive Blake, and Kendra snaps that she didn't: there was already a fake profile, with Sara Grace's photos, that existed, "and I took over from there." Girl, COME ON. "I didn't create the profile myself or anything like that." THIS IS JUST INSULTING NOW.
"We strongly believe that that's not true," says Max. She insists that it's the truth, and Max insists that he doesn't believe it, asking who did start the Kiersten profile if not Kendra. In the silence as she tries to come up with an answer, Max adds that they talked to Sara Grace about it and that she got pretty emotional telling them that all of this happened without her knowledge. "You know what? Fuck Sara," says Kendra, saying that they should "fly her ass out here" if they want to involve her. Max is like, "You want to get her on Skype?" Oops. Kendra doesn't answer that, instead crying more about, again, how she's being made to defend herself "when my kid's in the fucking hospital, where the fuck I should be!" I thought...you were going to get a call if he was going to get admitted? That fake hospital better get organized! "You can't manipulate it just by crying," says Max calmly, and I'm sorry, Sarah D. Bunting, but he's kind of awesome in this moment. Too bad you'll never see it because officially IT DOES NOT EXIST. Max recaps, "Yesterday, Sara Grace was in on it--" "I lied," Kendra snaps. "Yeah, it took a minute because I'm going through so much emotional shit." That or you didn't realize they could have Sara Grace on Skype in a hot second calling you out? Maybe the latter. Kendra decides her new gambit is to direct all her anger at Max because he's not just letting her tell her whole fake story and hang herself with it, telling him to shut up and whining to Nev that "talking to him is fucking pointless!" And then Max loses my goodwill by making a big show of getting sick of Kendra's bullshit and exiting Couch Time, leaving his toy camera on his seat in his stead.
— Tara Ariano (@TaraAriano) July 9, 2014
"Problem solved," says Max, after taking five minutes to walk to the door of the hotel breakfast nook or wherever the hell they are. WE CAN'T MISS YOU IF YOU DON'T LEAVE, DUDE.
Nev switches into Oprah mode, urging Kendra not to waste any more time lying to people online. Kendra nods, and then, you're never going to believe this, but then her dad texts her, and she has to go, I think her son is dying of uromysetisis!
Five minutes later, the creep-camera captures a still-mic-ed Kendra and Blake as they continue wrangling outside. She's still defensive; he's still just trying to extricate himself. She's upset that she agreed to do this: "Because I can't take it back now." Blake (probably correctly) guesses she means she can't keep up the lie, which she denies. He reminds her that she lied to him about everything, and that she shouldn't be putting her regret about signing the release on him, and she says, "I'm not putting it on you! I'm wondering why you didn't come to meet me!" What? HE TRIED, BITCH, DAMN, ARE YOU MIXING HIM UP WITH ONE OF YOUR OTHER TRICKS?
"So I'll never talk to you again or see you again?" Kendra spits. "No, that's not true," says Blake. (Spoiler: it is true.)
"Just hold me for a second," Kendra asks. And Blake...does? So there is a hug, after which Kendra claims, "I'm glad we did this."
One month later, Blake hasn't talked to Kendra, and he doesn't miss their relationship. And he's been in touch with Sara Grace? I hope they're doing it on Skype.
Kendra, for her part, chirps that she hasn't talked to Blake and doesn't want to. In other words, "You can't fire me, I quit!" Max and Nev ask whether she's stopped using the "party profiles," and she says she's "just stopped doing everything bad, pretty much." The "pretty much" is what really sells it. "It's never too late to start telling the truth," says Nev, who does not ask about her fake son for precisely that reason.
Don't make contact with the person whose photos you stole for your fake profile. Maybe stop trying to meet your sketchy online girlfriend after your first twenty-five failed attempts. Figure out exactly what ailment your fake son has before trying to use it to weasel out of stuff.
A couple of hours after the episode, I heard from someone who is apparently Sara Grace's actual sister!
So congratulations to all the residents of Memphis lucky enough to have Dr. Jane Pancurak as an optometrist! She seems to be very compassionate, level-headed, and wise.
...And, okay, I was maybe kind of mean to her sister. But if Sara Grace were MY sister, I would have protected her honour by (a) gently recommending to her that she reconsider her look if she didn't want to be mistaken for a sex worker, (b) learned how to spell "practitioner" if that were her job, and (c) TOLD HER NOT TO GO ON CATFISH.
For Bad-Ass Week we share:
Items On Nev And Max's Joint Catfish Bad-Ass Bucket List!
throw a con artist's phone in a body of water take a solo trip without Nev and drive a rental car lecture a lady about how lying online is okay if it's for love
- ride to a confrontation in a motorcyle (with sidecar)
- stay in a hotel rated more than two and a half stars
- hold a big-boy camera like the real camera operators have
- meet a "catfish" on the top of an active volcano and then zipline down into a natural hot spring!