Will Catfish Help Alante And Nevaeh End The Hellish Suspense Of Their Relationship?
For eight years, Alante has been frustrated by his inability to pin down his online girlfriend, Nevaeh. What devilry is she engaged in?
Alante, a machine operator and single father to a three-year-old son, in Saginaw.
Nevaeh, of Detroit.
Since they met via her random Facebook friend request when he was a senior in high school, Alante's tried to meet Nevaeh in person on multiple occasions, but she's dropped out at the last minute every time. They will be in constant contact for a while, and then she'll abruptly go silent for months at a time. They've videochatted, but she's always been in total darkness. Alante didn't mention this in his rundown, but he uses two different numbers to talk to Nevaeh or to text her. He ALSO doesn't seem to think it's weird that in his eight-year acquaintance with her, Nevaeh has only sent him eight or nine photos of herself. For someone who was in high school in 2009 or 2010? Suspect!
And speaking of that timeline: Alante is twenty-five.
Am I crazy or is that a rough twenty-five? Also, Alante's son Kadence (no) is three. So even though the show is trying to make this eight-year dalliance with Nevaeh into the great love of his life, obviously he hasn't been pining for her that entire time.
Nevaeh refuses to turn the lights on during videochats because her hair "isn't done." Work obligations were her excuse the times she wasn't able to meet Alante in person.
Max and Nev might as well start with a photo search SINCE THERE ARE ONLY NINE. One that Alante attached with his email of Nevaeh-related info returns no results, but then they go to the Facebook page he's supplied them with for Nevaeh, and when they grab a couple of photos from there...
We still don't know who Nevaeh is, but the face she's been using belongs to Audrey.
Based in Brooklyn, Audrey is a fashion and beauty blogger with a pretty well established brand, and it took Nev and Max about ten seconds to find that out. Even if you give Alante the benefit of the doubt and say she sent him her first photo the day he wrote in to Catfish, if he's seen the show at any time since its premiere in the year 2012, he had access to all the tools he needed to find this out himself.
Anyway, you know how this goes: all it proves is that Nevaeh stole another broad's photos; it tells Max and Nev nothing about who she is, so the sleuthing resumes with a trip back to her Facebook page. Nev announces that she has 345 friends: "Not a ton--" "But a real amount," Max finishes. Is this where I confess that I have a few dozen fewer friends than this liar does??? I assure you that I am real! Look, here's a photo of me as I write this post!
And THEN, an extremely ADRed Max asks, "Is there some way to tell how many of her friends are mutual with Alante?" And it JUST SO HAPPENS that "John, Producer" knows a trick where you can type in facebook.com/[username]?and=[username] to see if they've ever interacted. Max and Nev:
You know, it's almost like John is the one who should be headlining this investigation show! Somehow, they get from what John just said that this will show them all of Nevaeh and Alante's mutual friends, of which there are forty-six. That number doesn't seem that suspicious to me on its face: it takes less than two hours to drive from Saginaw and Detroit, and presumably Nevaeh would have had some mutual friends with Alante to have tried to send him a friend request in the first place. (It is slightly curious that all of their mutual friends are in Saginaw if Nevaeh doesn't actually live there.) So: that list gives Nev and Max a road map for which of their common acquaintances they can contact for more information on Nevaeh, and I'm not saying that the parents of Marquavous, Royon, Seiairah were specifically trying to fuck with my spell check when they named their children, but I'm not not saying it either.
Mutual friends pestered, Nev and Max move on to looking up phone numbers, starting with the one Alante uses to text Nevaeh, but which their search service tells them is a landline in Iowa Falls, IA, meaning it's an internet number or a text app. The number they talk on is linked to a Christopher [Something] in Saginaw, and (somehow?) also to a Latoya [Something], also in Saginaw. Naturally, they then search that Latoya on Facebook, and this is the photo that comes back.
Okay, I know from coverage of past seasons that sometimes the photos of red herring suspects are pics of people who kind of look like the actual people Nev and Max actually come across in their investigations, but are totally other people who gave their permission for their photos to use on screen. But does this photo maybe make you think that the new best practices for Season 6 involve taking real clip art photos and photoshopping them so that they're unrecognizable? Because it's not that this alleged Latoya is a hideous monster, but the shape of her cheeks and the lines around her chin just look...odd. I have to assume whatever photo of Latoya Nev and Max actually produced was not so manipulated, because Max is all "That's gotta be her" and not "Whoever made this pic needs a Photoshop refresher course." When they search Alante and Latoya, they see that the two of them have twenty-three mutual friends. "This is a big clue," says Max. "This connects them." I personally don't think this is as convincing as, for instance, the phone number was, particularly since Nevaeh and Alante had twice as many mutual Facebook friends.
Nev has barely finished calling Latoya their "prime suspect" when Royon hits them up. Nev briefs him on what they're doing, and Royon's story is similar to Alante's: Nevaeh found Royon on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and, after he friended her, started flirtatiously messaging with him: "It basically sounded like she wanted to hang out," he says, which I now know from this show means "fuck." Nev and Max are DISGUSTED that Nevaeh is "hollering at guys from Saginaw," apparently forgetting that Alante's gotten further with the two of them than he ever has with Nevaeh. Who cares who else she's pretending she wants to meet up with?
The next morning, Nev reports to Max that he spoke to two other people the night before: "Both of them guys, both of them from Saginaw, both of whom have spoken to Nevaeh on Facebook." "She is manipulating a whole town," judges Max. She's jerking around a couple dozen idiots, Max, settle down.
Before the presentation, there is an interlude where they meet up with Alante in the backyard of his Airbnb, where he's having a barbecue with his brother Joe, and his "godsister" (not a thing), Ericka. I feel it must be noted that when Alante invited them over, Max asked what they could bring and Alante told them hot dogs. So these fuckers show up with ONE PACKAGE of wieners. Granted, we now know that's probably plenty for five people, but I guess all the crew guys can go fuck themselves.
Max and Nev ask what Joe and Ericka know about why Alante is on Catfish. Ericka says she knows a little, and that she's eager for Alante to meet her after all this time "and get that closure that he needs." She's under the impression that it's "been a couple years," on which Nev yelps that it's been eight years. "That's a long time," Ericka agrees, but doesn't seem that surprised that Alante's affair with Nevaeh has actually been going on four times as long as she had thought. "It's a long time to string somebody along," Ericka opines. Or, from another perspective, it's a long time to let a total stranger string you along. "Do you think she's real?" Nev asks Joe. "I think it's somebody who looks like Roseanne," says Joe. That feels like a weirdly antique reference, but maybe in Saginaw guys in their twenties watch old Roseannes instead of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Everyone cracks up.
"What if it's a guy?" asks Max. "It's a girl, of course," says Ericka confidently, saying she's been around when Alante's talked to Nevaeh on the phone and heard her half of the conversation. "I just hope she can cook," Joe deadpans, before taking a huge bite of hot dog with perfect comic timing. Maybe Joe and John should co-host.
At this point, Nev and Max bring Alante inside for a briefing. When they pull up the list of all Alante and Nevaeh's mutual friends, he drawls that they're all guys he knows; what he does not know is why Nevaeh would have so many contacts in Saginaw when she doesn't live there. Shaking his head, Alante mumbles, "Never paid attention to it" -- another excellent tagline suggestion for this series. One of the guys both he and Nevaeh know is Royon, and Alante seems dismayed but not shocked by the report that Nevaeh flirted with him and a couple of other dudes in the area, muttering that she's "terrorizing" local men. "The Saginaw Catfish," says Max. (Terrible Triple A baseball team.)
Moving on: Alante doesn't know Latoya either, but he seems to agree that the evidence points to her being Nevaeh, and is disappointed that she would lie about her identity, because somehow even though he wrote his story in to Catfish and agreed to appear on the show, that possibility never crossed his mind. But after a walk outside to sigh and talk to himself, he tells Max and Nev that he does want to meet Nevaeh, whoever she is, and a call is placed...to her number, on which voicemail has not been set up. So Nev texts her other number asking her to call him. And then they're like, "WELL, BYE." Alante:
The structure of this show really has a momentum problem. I'm sure Max and Nev don't want to bring Alante back to their motel with them (though they might as well; there's no way he lives in the house they're passing off as his, with the cute print accent chair in the living room and whatever else), but it's also narratively awkward when they come to a point like this and then are like, "TTYL!"
But that's what happens, which is how Max and Nev are in their car when Nev gets a phone call from a fast-talking young woman whose answer to "Hello" is "Is this really Catfish?" "Who-- Who is this?" asks Nev. "Is this really Catfish?" she asks again. This lady can join John and Joe hosting the alternate-universe show for SURE. Nev assures her that it is (and no one purporting to be Catfish would lie and risk causing a hurricane of irony). Max and Nev ask again whom they're speaking with, witness-leading by dropping the name "Nevaeh," but in fact, it's Seiairah, and look, I am all for creativity, but if you're going to PRONOUNCE a name "Sierra," JUST SPELL IT THAT WAY. These parents dooming their children to a lifetime of spelling out their names whenever they get a fucking cup of coffee. I can't. Nev can't even remember that Seiairah is one of the common Alante/Nevaeh friends they messaged and has to be reminded by Max. She asks if they can meet up.
Nev is suspicious, but agrees. Seiairah says she'll text them an address...
...which turns out to be this picturesque empty lot? Max and Nev come into the conversation clearly convinced that Seiairah is, in fact, Nevaeh and try to trap her by asking how well she knows Nevaeh. "We're close friends," says Seiairah slyly. Does she know Alante? She says she does. Therefore, Nev surmises, she must know what's been going on between Alante and Nevaeh, and Seiairah confirms that she does. Nev announces that they know Nevaeh isn't the girl in "her" photos, and has probably been lying about other things too, so they assume there's more that they don't know yet. (I mean, there basically always is.) "Yeah, there's more," Seiairah smirks. "ARE YOU NEVAEH?!" Max demands, chill-free. But Seiairah says she isn't. "Why are you talking to us?" says Max when he's regained his composure. Seiairah says she and Nevaeh have been friends a long time, but she feels like she's "in the middle of everything" and wants Nevaeh to "come clean." All of this just makes Seiairah seem like she must be Nevaeh, but she won't say so. Nev notes that Nevaeh must know they're in Saginaw looking for her, but that they haven't been able to connect, whereupon Seiairah offers to call her for them to try to set up a meeting -- and does, on the spot: they're to meet Nevaeh in a park (where nothing good ever happens) in an hour.
So Nev and Max have to turn back around and report on all this to Alante, asking what he knows about Seiairah. "Sheeeeee's on the crush list," says Alante. "She has a crush on you," Max guesses, which is exactly the opposite way I would have gone: Seiairah has a very stupid name, but she's beautiful.
"Yeaaaaaaah," says Alante. Nev judges Seiairah to be "a little young" (...maybe? Alante might look worn out, but we've been told he's only twenty-five!), but also "cute." Whatever: after hearing the story, Alante is ready to go.
In a park, where nothing good ever happens, the guys look around for an unaccompanied person and quickly find one on a dock. It's not Audrey, duh, but it's not Latoya either.
"So it was you the whole time?" asks Alante. It was. "Why, though?" he asks. "It was just supposed to be a lesson that needed to be learned," says Ericka. Uh oh, is this about to escalate into another Antwane and Carmen??? "When you told me about Seiairah," says Ericka, "I told you from jump that I didn't think that was a good idea." OKAY, WAIT. I agree with Nev that Seiairah seems a lot younger than Alante, but is she a lot younger than Alante? Because this shit has been going on for close to a decade. How young was she when Seiairah told Ericka that she had a crush on Alante? THIS IS EXTREMELY RELEVANT INFORMATION. However, Ericka's concern does not seem to be that Alante was headed for actual criminal charges if he started anything romantic with Seiairah; she didn't think they would make a good couple, and told Seiairah not to pursue it, to protect Alante from her feminine wiles. However, in order to prove to Seiairah that she should give up her affections for Alante, Ericka created Nevaeh, so that she'd have evidence that Alante was talking to other women (or girls, since they were in high school at the time).
It's at this point that Nev embarks upon his campaign to get Ericka to admit that the real reason she did all this is because she was jealous of attention Alante paid to other girls and didn't want anyone else to be with him. "No! Not at all," says Ericka, maybe a bit too fast. "That's my brother," she adds. But Nev, who feels he learned everything he needed to know about this family at the one barbecue they all attended together, points out -- as if Ericka doesn't know -- that Alante is not literally her brother. Ericka's story starts to fall apart when Max gets her to admit that she'd already started the Nevaeh profile when she started this op on Alante; she used it at her friends' behest to test their boyfriends' fidelity -- which seems to have worked 100% of the time, to hear her tell it. I mean...high school. Who's surprised, really.
Nev and Max bring the conversation back around to Nevaeh's very long entanglement with Alante. Ericka claims that she and Seiairah discussed whether the time had come for her to pull the plug, but Seiairah would encourage her to stick with it, and EVEN THOUGH she supposedly started trying to seduce Alante as Nevaeh out of concern that Seiairah would do Alante wrong, Ericka continued doing it, over her own moral qualms, out of female solidarity?
Nev decides to pull Alante aside for his perspective, which is that Seiairah was into him, but that it was one-sided, and that he never did anything to make her think they were dating -- I guess trying to get at whether Seiairah would have a defensible revenge motive in this scenario, even though (spoiler) we're not going to see her again.
Across the park, Max quizzes Ericka on her claim that she'd been in the room when Alante spoke to Nevaeh on the phone. She claims that there was a time when Alante was so engrossed with "Nevaeh" on the phone that he didn't notice Ericka had gotten up and moved to the other side of the room. Max: "Wow."
Over in his conversation, Alante is crying.
And in hers, Ericka didn't want to come out and confess her deception to Alante; she wanted to let him down gently. This also seems to support Nev's theory about her real motives?
And, at this moment, Alante doesn't want to talk to Ericka at all, and goes back to the car alone. Ericka also cries, but accepts Nev's suggestion that she not try to contact Alante for now. She volunteers that she's free to talk tomorrow, since she's seen the show before, and heads off on her own...with some barely audible self-recrimination.
I feel a little bad for this poor woman having to defend dumb shit she started in high school. I'm sure I couldn't.
When everyone reconvenes at the Airbnb...
...as if Alante bought that chair or that rug, I MEAN HONESTLY: Alante is incredulous that Ericka kept up such an elaborate deception for such a long time -- and in the defense of someone he wasn't even dating. "If you hurt me, I'm going to hurt you," says Ericka. "Did Alante hurt you?" asks Max. And THEN Ericka busts out the brand-new information that she'd been involved with some friend of Alante's; this other guy screwed around on her and Alante never told her. When Nev is like, wait, what?, Ericka says she was seeing this person on and off for seven years, so if she couldn't tell in all that time that he sucked, MAYBE IT'S ON HER.
Alante and Ericka snipe at each other, but since she's not particularly remorseful or apologetic, and he's not that interested in her self-esteem issues surrounding her weight and colour, the conversation isn't really that effective. Eventually, Alante can't even look at Ericka, so after saying again that she said she was sorry (though, again, not that sincerely), she gets up to leave. Max stops her at the door to say he knows it's hard but that she did the right thing. "I feel so shitty, though," she says tearfully.
Max hugs Ericka.
Five months later, Alante and Ericka are side by side in the same room, both very cheerful and confirming that they are friends. "FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS?" asks Max idiotically. They both say no, but if they add that he and Nev need to abandon this storyline, it doesn't make the broadcast.
After the show, Alante moved. But then his father passed away, and Ericka, knowing Alante would need him, contacted him and made herself available for whatever he needed, and their relationship was healed. That's actually sweet! Also Ericka's pregnant. Let's hope the father isn't Alante's trifling friend!
Don't steal photos from someone who's Insta-famous. Don't make your "godbrother" responsible for policing your shitty boyfriend. Don't let anyone jerk you around for any length of time that can be measured in presidential administrations. Don't name a child Seiairah.