Will Catfish Help Kailani And Sam Say Aloha...Or Aloha?

Kailani didn't think she'd find love after getting divorced and leaving her ex in Hawaii. But will her online boyfriend Sam let her down too?

The Client

Kailani, age 23, of Menifee, California.

The Beloved

Sam, age 19, of Northern California.

The Clues

Well, this one's complicated. Kailani has actually been turned in by her friend Melvin, and the biggest clue that Sam might be sketchy is that he was "in" a "relationship" with Melvin to begin with; when Melvin finally got sick of Sam's shit -- attempts to videochat with Sam just showed a black screen on his side; Sam promised to come visit Melvin, but it never happened -- Sam then went on to start something with Melvin's friend Kailani, and apparently the two of them are now in love.

There's also the fact that Sam is supposed to be nineteen, whiiiiich...


...yeah, idk about that. Nev comes right out and asks whether Kailani and Melvin have both seen Sam's penis and THEY HAVE. Stop screaming, because there's more: they've compared photos, and agree that they're not the same crank.

The Excuses

Sam claimed that his camera was broken, and that he couldn't come visit Melvin at the appointed time because he got in a car accident, and tried to prove it by sending a pretty obviously photoshopped picture.


Melvin also excused the discrepancy between Sam's stated age and how old his (regular, unbruised) photo looked by saying he figured the beard aged him.

As for the excuses Sam's given Kailani? Well, that's more complicated too. When Melvin and Sam were still "together," Sam friended all of Melvin's friends, so when Sam and Kailani started talking, she was still married. It was innocent at the time, but soon that didn't matter anyway, when Kailani found out that her husband had been cheating on them with a mutual friend and that there was a woman in Australia, to which he had been deployed, AND that there was yet another woman in Hawaii who thought they were engaged. Kailani had been living in Hawaii when all this happened, and when her marriage ended after six months, she decided to move back to California when her marriage ended so that she could see Sam -- but he said he was too busy with work and studying to see her in person, despite living pretty nearby.

Kailani also stayed hopeful that Sam was real -- ignoring Melvin's warnings -- because Sam sent her so many photos, including Snapchat pics that would be hard to fake...


...and beefcake.


Who amongst us could refuse what is, even blurred, that obviously hot ass?

The Investigation

I don't think I've ever seen an episode before in which the target gets a phone call before Nev and Max start faffing around with Google, but that happens this time: Kailani tells Max and Nev that she's told Sam she called Catfish on him, I guess hoping it would get him to come out of hiding to prove he's legit without having to involve MTV's cameras. It didn't, and when she calls him after giving Nev and Max the rundown on their relationship to date, he's still evasive and gets off the phone in a hurry, claiming he has to get back to studying, which given how much a NORMAL person would WELCOME the chance to procrastinate is SUS IN AND OF ITSELF.

So the next day, Nev and Max post up in an Italian restaurant to see what they can find. Kailani's summary email is packed with information -- I assume she got input from Melvin, too -- including his full name.


Not to say Latinos and Italians can't intermarry, but I bet one of those surnames is real and one is not so much real at all and that the person who chose them didn't know they weren't both from the same Romance language. Kailani also says that Sam's mother is named Ariel, which I don't buy as the name of a woman with a nineteen-year-old son, though Max and Nev are more struck by his father's name: Michelangelo.


Once they've stopped laughing, Max says Michelangelo could be real -- and it could, particularly if Devecchio is Sam's actual surname. But that plus Ariel does suggest that Sam just came up with these fake names with the help of '90s cartoons. What's Sam's brother's name, Lumière?

The sleuthing starts with Sam's photos, none of which turns up any other results -- not even this one.


I assume Kailani included this one so that they could check out the metadata? But they just crack up, image-search it (Google thinks it's a hand, hee hee), and decide what they need are more photos of Sam's...face, so off they go to his Facebook profile.


Two things. "Angelo" and not "Ramirez"? Also: that's a menu from Kona Brewing Company, which only has restaurants in Hawaii (and if you're ever near one, you should go; they make pizza crust out of the spent wheat and it's VERY GOOD), making me think Sam was going to turn out to be someone who knew Kailani from Hawaii. Do the guys pick up on this? They do not. Instead, after noting that Sam claims to have gone to Salinas High School, which places him in central California, they decide to message all fifteen of Sam's friends.

While they wait for someone to respond, Max and Nev look at some more of the photos Kailani provided, including one in which he's in a Salinas hoodie. But it's the next one that actually leads somewhere: it was uploaded by an Emma, whose Twitter profile pic shows her with Sam. Except he's not Sam; he's Dom. And whereas Sam is "sammyhilfigerr" on Instagram, Dom is "Domi_Hilfiger" on Twitter.


Before long, they've found Dom's full name, confirmed he's from Salinas, and has a Facebook with over 1000 friends. They message him to tell him what's going on, and back up to search "Sam"'s phone. It's a cell in Salinas, apparently without a name attached. For some reason, Max thinks they might get to Sam's real identity by looking up his fake parents' fake names, but obviously someone who could only be arsed to add fifteen people to his fake Facebook profile hasn't created that many sock puppets to support his story when photos of his abs have already caused all questions about his identity to fly out of Kailani's head.

They've barely started pointlessly down this path when Nev's phone rings: it's Adriana, one of Sam's Facebook friends. She reports that Sam "supposably" met her friend in San Francisco "at an event called Pride" -- hey, I think I've heard of that! Adriana and Sam have DMed, flirtily, but when she was in Monterey recently and arranged to meet him, he stood her up. When she got hold of him a couple of hours later, he claimed he'd fallen asleep. Nev dimes out Sam as a fake, though it seems like that's a conclusion Adriana already managed to reach on her own.

Nev barely has time to vamp before his phone rings again: it's Dom! He's willing to FaceTime when he gets home, so Nev and Max flee this restaurant -- where they not only apparently didn't buy anything but where they've just been hanging out stealing wifi while drinking Starbucks coffee -- and head back over to Kailani's Airbnb.


You know where twenty-three-year-old divorcées live? NOT HERE.

The Presentation Of Findings

While waiting for Dom to call back, Nev and Max start walking Kailani through the evidence, which isn't noteworthy except for the fact that (a) she seems to think the well-known American sportswear designer is called Tommy Hilfigure, and (b) she was really working hard to ignore all the evidence and Melvin's advice, because finding out that Sam's face actually belongs to Sam still manages to shock to her.


Max and Nev tell Kailani they've gotten in touch with Dom if she wants to FaceTime with him, and though it's pretty clear she'd rather live in her fantasy a few minutes longer -- and that she's embarrassed to have been tricked -- she agrees. Nev asks whether Dom can think of anyone who's had a crush on him for a long time or who's "weirdly obsessed" with him, and Dom remembers getting an Instagram DM from an "obviously fake" account, asking for a verification selfie to prove that some third party had been talking to someone other than Dom. Sam pointed out the obvious -- that this woman who'd been misled could just look at Dom's real Instagram feed -- but the DMer was insistent about getting him to hold up a sign with a name on it, and when Max asks if he remembers what it was, Dom says it, and Kailani confirms, "That's my last name." Nev and Max both react with surprise -- maybe one a little more than the other.


They don't know her full name? She sent them an email. I also don't understand what happened with this. I mean, I assume Sam asked Dom to hold up a sign that said "Ms. Kailani [Surname], I have not been talking to you" and then photoshopped it to say the opposite? None of that is stated, though.

After they're done with Dom, it's back to exposing Sam's scumbaggery, hitting on Adriana behind Kailani's back after making Kailani think he'd be there for her after the end of her marriage. Kailani says her husband never apologized for cheating on her, but apparently she'll settle for an apology from this total stranger she's never made and that will qualify as closure? I doubt this is going to heal her, but healing her is also not what we're here for. Nev leaves Sam a message and everyone goes their separate ways while they wait for him to call back because this "investigation" was so worthless they don't even have a general idea where he might live or work.

And you know who's better prepared for this whole escapade than the people who get paid to do this? SAM. He ignores Nev's voicemail, but the next morning when Nev and Max are getting ready to go back to Kailani's Airbnb and tell her they have nothing to report, she calls them and says that Sam just called her and said he's in an Uber on his way to her place right now. (I certainly hope he's deleted the app since then.) I can only assume she doesn't know how to turn off her location on her social media posts and he tracked her that way -- she tells Nev and Max that Sam had sent her letters and things in the past but, as previously discussed, there's no way Kailani actually lives in this place BUT I DIGRESS: Max and Nev leap into the car and try to get to Kailani's before Sam!!!

The Confrontation

When Max and Nev descend on her, Kailani's already shitting her pants, so maybe they shouldn't pound on the door for her to let them in because she thinks it's Sam.


But no, true to his word, Sam does arrive via Uber sometime later. We already know what he doesn't look like, so who does show up?



Sam is from Monterey. He is nineteen. (He doesn't have as deep a voice as we heard on the phone earlier.) He doesn't know Dom, but they've spent time in the same social circles through mutual friends. Sam's been using Dom's photos for "pretty much just a year," or the whole time he and Kailani have been talking. But he claims everything he said about himself is true; he's just not the person in the photos. (Presumably all his excuses for not videochatting or meeting in person are also lies, but this doesn't come up.)

Nev gives Sam a chance to offer up a sob story to excuse his lying, and Sam takes it: he was bullied at school because of his "feminine features." He wanted to know what life would be like for him if he looked more masculine. Max asks what his intention was with Kailani, and Sam admits that he never thought their relationship would get that far. Kailani is silent as Nev rants on about Kailani's ex who did her wrong, to which Sam just says that's why he couldn't tell her the truth. But he does have real feelings for her. Nev then asks about Adriana (oooooh), but Sam shrugs, "Adriana wasn't anything compared to how I talked to Kailani." In direct sunlight, it's hard not to see the long hair coming out of Sam's baseball cap, giving the effect of a little-old-man costume.


Sam tells Kailani, "I really do love you," and though the truth seems to be that Kailani isn't feeling Sam now that she knows what he really looks like, she seizes on the Adriana factor to cast doubt on how trustworthy Sam is. Sam just repeats that Kailani's the one he really loves, and since Kailani's not sure how to say she doesn't care to pursue this any longer, Nev cuts in to separate the players. Beside the pool that definitely is not hers, Kailani smokes and complains about Sam's lies.

On the lawn, Sam cries that he never wanted to hurt Kailani. And for once it's actually Max who decides the conversation has run its course and that they should regroup the next day. Judging by the time code, this story is about to get re-complicated even further.

The Pre-Post-Confrontation Confrontation

The next morning, Sam calls Nev and says there are some things he'd like to tell him and Max before they meet back up with Kailani, and in a park, where nothing good ever happens, Sam confirms what I kind of assumed when I first saw him: "My name is Sam, but my birth name is Samantha. I'm going through the process to turn into a male." I hope part of the process is learning that the term is "transitioning." Sam's family doesn't know about his gender identity, and in his tomboyish youth, he got a lot of pressure from his mom to act more feminine: "She'd say, 'I have a daughter, not a son.'"

I really want to believe this is the last generation who would have this reaction to a child who'd been born in the wrong body. As much shit as I give this show, I have to say that it has come a long way in terms of the way it handles trans participants and matter-of-factly shows how to behave respectfully when a trans person comes out, so here's hoping those lessons sink in for its viewers. To wit: Nev and Max thank Sam for his honesty, since this is all clearly hard for him to say. Sam adds that his feelings for Kailani are real; to Max's question, he says she is the first person he's been in love with. Having had this difficult conversation with Max and Nev, though, Sam is ready to meet back up with Kailani and tell her his whole story.

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

So Max introduces Sam by saying he has something important to tell Kailani, and Sam is, unfortunately, one of those people who smiles idiotically when he's nervous, which results in a huge disconnect between his expression and what he's actually saying.


Kailani seems...moderately surprised.


It just seems like an understated reaction? I think she might have figured this out yesterday. Sam adds that he's transitioning, and that he wasn't comfortable to tell Kailani when they first met. Kailani doesn't know what to say. Sam says he's never lied like this before and that it bothered him every day...


...but, again, his body language doesn't exactly support his speech? I don't think Sam is lying about any of this; it's just weird. Kailani claims she would have accepted Sam if he'd been honest, and though she doesn't say "as a friend," it seems clear, including to Sam. Nev says that talk is cheap, basically, particularly considering that Sam isn't out, and Kailani finally says, "I'm not mad at you. I don't want you not in my life? But I might need some space? But I do want to be your friend." Sam says, "That was my biggest fear." Max observes that Kailani and Sam helped each other through hard times in their lives, and Nev doesn't even try to make them kiss.


Sam and Kailani hug.

The Aftermath

Two months later, Kailani's "not really" talking to Sam and wants to move forward. She now has a boyfriend who works for UPS, which unfortunately cues Nev to ask whether he handles her with care. Max jokingly asks whether they're married yet -- which is a pretty rude reference to her first failed marriage -- and Kailani laughs that they're not. "You just stick to Ground," says Nev.


Apparently Max is drunk.

Sam is focusing on himself, planning to take EMT training, "slowly coming out to some friends," and "excited for the future." I'm glad they talked to Kailani first so that they knew not even to ask Sam how things fell apart when he told his first love the truth.

The Life Lessons Learned

No one's camera is broken. No one has that much homework. When your best friend tells you not to hook up with the guy he dumped for being a liar, assume he actually knows what the fuck he's talking about.

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