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Will Catfish Help Catherine And Graham Bring Her Country Boy Fantasy To Life?

Catherine is ready to uproot her life for an online boyfriend she's never met. Is this wise?

The Client

Catherine, of Long Island, who's about to start her second year of college.

The Beloved

Graham, currently of Nashville but on his way to his first year of college in Florida.

The Clues

Two years ago, Catherine randomly found Graham by searching the hashtag "#countryboy" on Instagram...

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...then finding him on Twitter and messaging him through that platform (kind of a needlessly circuitous route, but okay); they exchanged phone numbers over DM and have been talking constantly ever since. However, they've never really videochatted; when they've tried, his screen is always black. (They've also never met in person, but she was the one who flaked after an attack of insecurity.) He's never mentioned her in any comments on his Instagram posts. He's not on Facebook.

The Excuses

Graham says his front camera is broken.

The Investigation

Before Max and Nev get into it, they find out a little more about Catherine and why she may have found it so important to get emotional support from any source, no matter how sketchy: her mother was diagnosed with breast, thyroid, and skin cancer, on top of which she also suffered a spinal fusion that has limited her mobility; Catherine still lives at home and helps take care of her and keep up the house. Catherine felt awkward reaching out for help to people in her life lest they think of her as a "charity case," but she had no such reservations with Graham. Their friendship turned into a lot more: they've exchanged "I love you"s and have talked about their wedding and so forth. But they also fight a lot, according to her because she likes to go to parties and drink and he's very conservative (and judgmental, from the sound of it). This doesn't seem like much to build a future on? But let's try to figure out what Graham's deal is anyway, other than maybe that he's uncomfortable about how dependent Catherine is on him given that they've never met?

Nev and Max start with the information Catherine's supplied: Graham's first and last name; current and former cities of residence (the aforementioned Nashville, and Jacksonville); his phone number; and the links to his Twitter and Instagram profiles. They start with the phone number, which is registered to Jacksonville; if a name is attached to it, it isn't mentioned.

Graham's Instagram seems like a real account: it features a fair number of selfies, but there are also group shots of Graham with other people, many of whom are tagged. Unfortunately for Catherine, that doesn't mean much given that the account she's been communicating with is the Graham Twitter...which, when they look it up, doesn't offer much personal information of any kind, other than which sports teams he likes; there aren't even any instances of the Graham Twitter tweeting Graham Instagram posts, which points up the possibility that the Graham Twitter is just some unrelated person using Graham's photo.

Since we're pulling the social media thread, why not see whether Graham lied when he told Catherine he isn't on Facebook?

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Surprise! Of course he's on Facebook. It also looks real -- certainly more real than his Twitter.

Nev and Max then decide it's time to start contacting people who are tagged in photos with Graham and find out what they know about his social media presence. Almost immediately, they hear back from Reynolds, apparently Graham's thirstiest friend. Over FaceTime, Reynolds says that he's one of Graham's closest friends, but that he's never heard of Catherine. As for whether Graham knows of anyone making fake accounts with his photos, Reynolds says Graham told him a few years ago that his Twitter had been hacked.

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Graham never found out who hacked his account. And when they read out Graham's phone number -- given to Catherine via Twitter DM -- Reynolds says that's not the number he has for Graham.

Based on everything they've learned from Reynolds, Max and Nev decide either that Catherine's been speaking to an impostor, or Graham has a shady reason for keeping her existence a secret from his real-life friends. Either way: Catherine probably should suspend her plans to follow Graham to UF for college like she's apparently considered doing.

The Presentation Of Findings

By far the best part of this episode is when Max and Nev return to Catherine's house and see she's laid out a full buffet from the pizza place where she works.

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I wish we could just spend the rest of the hour on those garlic knots, but we can't, I GUESS.

Here's Catherine finding out Graham totally is on Facebook.

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Here's Catherine learning that Graham's Twitter had been hacked.

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Here's Catherine hearing that she has a different phone number for Graham than one of his best friends does.

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Nev leaps from the fact that the number Graham's been using with her is registered to Jacksonville to suggest that the person she's been speaking to is "someone in [Graham's] close family or friend circle." Close to a million people live in Jacksonville? But sure. Max says the other possibility is that "it's Graham and he's keeping [her] on the low to everyone, and he has a second phone number that he only talks to you on." Max offers this as a reasonable possibility, without any sarcasm or anything -- maybe to spare Catherine's feelings, and maybe because he does think it actually could be true. He adds that they asked Reynolds about her and he'd never heard her name, to which she sighs, "That's really messed up." After a moment, she says she's hurt that Graham wouldn't tell people about her, since all her friends know about him. That he wouldn't be honest with her after everything they've been through is "a punch in the face." Nev says they've "never" been in a situation before, where the evidence seemed to point in opposite directions (I don't know about "never"), and Catherine says, "Either way, I'm mad." In fact, she'd almost rather find out that she had been talking to a fake than that the real Graham has been keeping her a secret for the past two years.

There's nothing more to do but set up a meeting, so Nev steps outside to call Graham on the number Catherine uses. Nev starts by asking if he's speaking to Graham, as if this line of inquiry on its own is going to trip up this possible giant liar. Graham says it is, and Nev introduces himself: "I'm on that show Catfish, which I'm sure you're familiar with." Graham:

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Nev waiting for normies to be impressed by him and getting denied is one of the greatest pleasures this show has to offer.

Nev tells Graham he's calling on Catherine's behalf and proposes a meeting. "What's your plan?" asks Graham cagily, so maybe he does watch the show and is trying to suss out how much Nev has actually found out about him and whether an ambush is imminent. Nev says he doesn't have one, putting it on Graham to accept the invitation or not. "Does she really want to meet that bad?" asks Graham, like, she's on a TV show, so probably? Nev says she does.

Inside the house, we find out Catherine is particularly stung by the possibility that Graham's kept her a secret "because I've been kept a secret before." This girl's really packed a lot of trauma into her young life.

Outside, Graham is done pantsing around and says that if Catherine really wants to meet, he'll allow it; as Nev is recapping the call for Catherine, Graham texts with instructions.

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A park? Where nothing good ever happens? This dude DEFINITELY watches the show.

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Catherine is ready.

The Attempted Confrontation

There's a way-too-long bit where Max and Nev bring Catherine to this park, and they wait, and we learn that when Catherine is nervous, she compulsively plays with her hair.

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Nev finally tries calling Graham, but it goes straight to voicemail; Catherine gives up, going to the car to cry that she just wants to go home. But they can't, so she goes back to her motel room to make a teary diary cam video about how heartless Graham is.

The next day, Nev and Max check in on Catherine. She reads off the maudlin text she sent Graham the night before, imploring him not to waste the chance to meet her in person. We don't hear whether he answered her...but he DID text Nev with the address for his parents' house so that they can come meet him there today.

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Catherine is ready.

The Confrontation

Unlike many of the targets this show hunts down, Graham apparently comes from means.

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Means enough to have two phones??? We're about to find out. As Catherine cowers behind Max...

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...Nev goes to the door, and out comes...

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At first, Catherine is plotzing so hard at the proof that she has been talking to her original #countryboy that she can't look at him directly, and scoots back behind Max's back to freak out.

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But Nev and Max know there must be a story for all Graham's shadiness to this point, and with Catherine still hiding behind Max, they try to get to it...starting with why he blew them off at the park the previous day. He was about to leave, but then his family came home and he had to hang out with them: "They wouldn't let me leave." "So your mom tells you what to do?" says Max sarcastically. Graham: "Yes. And as long as I'm financially dependent on them, I guess I have to do what they say." Well, honestly. He's in high school. That's how it works. Catherine check:

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Still hiding.

Nev asks whether anyone in Graham's family knows about Catherine; they do not. Catherine check:

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Still hiding.

Why hasn't Graham ever been able to videochat over the past two years? He recently got a new phone, but before that he had an old iPhone 5, and the front camera on that one was broken. Presumably the new one wasn't ever going to be the one he'd use to talk to Catherine, so maybe at a certain point she just gave up asking him to videochat -- because yes, he does have two phones. Catherine check:

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Finally standing next to Max, but refusing to look Graham in the eye.

Couldn't Graham have ever figured out a way to videochat with Catherine, Nev asks? "I just didn't really think about it, I dunno," shrugs Graham. Catherine check:

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Hair business.

Max tries to do his usual Max thing, hectoring Graham about giving them "another BS excuse," to which Graham stammers, "There's no, like-- I'm not, like-- I'm not trying to make-- I don't know, there's no, like, big deal!" I feel like there MUST be more to this story for it to have gone on this long, but on the other hand, he's not a supervillain; he's just a dumb kid. He JUST finished high school. Boys that age, particularly, are idiots. That he's barely addressed any of his remarks to Catherine even after she came out from behind Max suggests that Graham didn't really think about there being a live person at the other end of his phone, because he doesn't seem to care that much that she's standing on his lawn right now; he was just saying shit, not thinking that it meant anything to her. But maybe it actually meant EVERYTHING to her, because...Catherine check:

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TOTAL HEARTBREAK.

"Do you care or not care about Catherine?" asks Max, while she resumes fiddling with her hair. Graham's voice gets very high as he replies, "YES I care! YES, of COURSE I care!" Catherine check:

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Fixing to pull that hair out if she's not careful.

Max sternly lectures Graham that this person he claims to care about is in front of him, and there are probably some things he should say to her. "I'm sad it took this long for us to meet, but I'm really glad that we finally have gotten the opportunity to do that." Catherine check:

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Girl, have some dignity.

Max asks whether Graham loves Catherine. "I'm not in love with her, but I do love her," Graham hedges. Hmm, maybe he is a supervillain, because that came out pretty smooth. Catherine check:

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I also have a bad habit -- I bite my nails -- and whenever I catch myself in a mirror while I'm doing it or see myself doing it in a photo, I'm HORRIFIED by how stupid I look. I pray that Catherine watches her hair fussing in this episode and...does a better job breaking her embarrassing habit than I have in almost forty-two years.

What about all that marriage talk? "It was very light-hearted," says Graham, "but it's not like-- We're not saying we're gonna get married, like--" And then that's actually it. Catherine check:

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No longer looking at Graham, again.

Isn't Graham just failing to take responsibility for leading Catherine on? Graham, without much contrition, says that if he did, he's sorry. Catherine check:

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That pretty much says it all. Having said nothing during this entire conversation after squealing at Graham for being who he seemed to be and then very abruptly turning cold -- so was something cut or is she putting on her horror for the cameras? -- Catherine asks Max if they can walk away, and they go take a break in the car while Nev walks Graham away for what would be a man-to-man if either of them were one. Catherine whines to Max that Graham's whole rap is "such bullshit"; she wants to cry, but after the previous day she's out of tears. Max claims he's "fighting the urge to slap the taste out of his mouth," which is a bit much considering the other kinds of human garbage he's dealt with in this season alone -- hell, since the midseason premiere! All joking aside, Graham doesn't seem to have premeditated any of this or, really, thought about it at all. Shit got out of hand and he didn't know how to fix it because when he started talking to Catherine he was SIXTEEN YEARS OLD.

Outside, Graham says basically this -- that he didn't realize the extent to which Catherine was taking the things he said to heart, but that he didn't shut things down because he wanted to be there for her during her hard time and didn't want to make things worse by breaking her heart. Nev tells him that the truth is the best thing for Catherine.

Meanwhile, Catherine is in the car telling Max, "When you're older -- when you're not in high school anymore -- being a fuckboy is not correct." She figures (probably correctly) that Graham just thought he and Catherine would never meet, but she can't believe he thought he could get away with this forever. Max and Catherine then go on to diagnose Graham as having "had everything handed to him" and being "sheltered," conclusions they've apparently drawn from the size of his parents' house and not much else?

But on the deck, Graham is saying that Catherine was texting him all kinds of emotional stuff, and that he wanted to be there for her as a friend, not a boyfriend. Nev asks why he bothered (...to be a friend? because if she was spraying this at a virtual stranger, Catherine didn't have another outlet?). "It's about being there for people," says Graham.

Max urges Catherine to go back and talk to Graham, to "make him understand."

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

Max leads Catherine to the deck, where she says she still can't quite look at Graham because she thinks she'll start crying. But at least she can finally manage to speak for herself, telling Graham she doesn't like "being confused" or lied to, and that he fucked with her head. Graham apologizes. Max wants Graham to explain how it seemed like they were on the same page, but now aren't at all. "I just didn't think about it, I guess," Graham offers. Nev prompts him to repeat what he'd told Nev about being Catherine's friend; Graham cosigns Nev's summary, and adds that he didn't have any "mean intentions or bad intentions." Catherine wishes he had told the truth. Graham apologizes again. He hopes they can still have "the same deep connection" they always have, but Catherine tells Max, "There's nothing left to be said," and that's the boring end of a very anticlimactic episode.

Hugs?

There are no hugs.

The Aftermath

Two months later, Catherine doesn't talk to Graham much anymore. She'll be his friend one day, but right now she needs to focus on herself. And she's single, so if you have a fetish for girls who can't stop petting their own hair like a kitten, hit her up.

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Or: Graham didn't feel like coming back on the show.

The Life Lessons Learned

Even if someone's camera's broken -- which, it's not -- they have access to other cameras. Don't try to find your next mate by searching a hashtag. Try getting emotional support from people you actually know before turning to strangers. LEAVE YOUR HAIR ALONE.

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