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Will Catfish Help Mandy And José Advance Their Great (Lakes) Love Affair?

Michigander Quentin turns in his mother, Mandy, so that Max and Nev can investigate her sketchy online boyfriend José. Will these two break the pattern of cursed Michigan matches?

The Client

Mandy, who's been turned in to the show by her college-aged son, Quentin; they live in Pontiac, MI.

The Beloved

José, who lives in Detroit.

The Clues

Though they only live an hour's drive apart, Mandy and José have (obviously) never met in the two years they've been "dating" online, though apparently attempts have been made: according to Mandy, José has stood her up three times, most recently four months ago, when he failed to show up at a local nightclub called Bongos. José and Mandy haven't even managed to talk on the phone even once, only messaging each other through Facebook. ("There's no way he doesn't have a phone." - Quentin.)

The Excuses

WELL: Mandy may not have pushed too hard for Radical Honesty from José because she has been using a fake profile to talk to him all along! Not super-fake by the standards of this show: she's using a photo of her sister Andrea, and they do look alike.

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(That's Mandy on the left.)

Here's Nev and Max after Quentin tells them about the fake profile.

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And HERE'S Nev and Max when they find out the reason she set it up: she found out her ex was sleeping with Andrea!

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These messy bitches LIVE for the drama, honey! Nev and Max had obviously been less kindly disposed than usual toward Mandy before, but they come around when they find out she'd created the fake to pose as her sister, friend the ex, and launch a sting that would trick him into incriminating himself -- which he did, spectacularly, Mandy ultimately busting him and Andrea at a hotel rendezvous. That accomplished, though, she continued to use the fake Andrea page because she was "at a low point" and felt that, I guess, Andrea must be the standard of beauty she should be shooting for if the man she'd been with for eight years had left Mandy for her. (This..........is sad.) Mandy did put what she felt were cute pics of herself on her real Facebook page but didn't get any good feedback on them -- and in fact, after José friended "Andrea" on Facebook, Mandy did once send him a real photo of herself and he asked if she had gained a little weight. (This is actually one of the few checks in the "probably real" column, since the liars are always all, "You're beautiful inside and out!")

The Investigation

You guys. I can't. I CAN'T WITH THIS SHIT.

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So for this episode, Nev and Max and the crew have brought along Mrs. Nev and Nev Jr. (fka Cleo) because Laura is from the area. Hey, you want to grift a plane ticket and a half out of MTV? That's none of my business. You make it my business when Nev acts like Mrs. Nev is a full cast member, announces "Laura wants to help!," and enlists her counsel so that she can drop such "local insight" gems about her fellow Michiganders as "They're really easygoing, but like, have an edge. But if there's NO edge, then they're hiding something"? Bitch, get the fuck out of here.

Fucking hell. Anyway: they have nothing to go on but José's Facebook profile, and I kind of wish they'd sought MRS. NEV'S INVALUABLE LOCAL INSIGHT to confirm or dispute their judgment that José is good-looking, but "normal good-looking."

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Like, whatever, eye of the beholder et cetera, but is this guy perhaps an L.A. 4 but a Detroit 9? I AM JUST ASKING.

None of José's photos leads them anywhere. Mrs. Nev notes that a Rachel wrote something on José's Wall about seeing him at Bongos, "Lol," which she interprets as proof that this Rachel knew the meeting was never to be. They message Rachel, along with some other dude named Shawn, who hits them back almost immediately, joking about how many Josés there are in Michigan. Shawn doesn't know José personally, but "commented for [his] friend Rachel." Nev asks Shawn to text Rachel and vouch for Nev to her -- which he does, calling Nev back right away to say that Rachel doesn't believe it's actually Nev trying to get in touch with her. However, she just got home from work, so if it really is Nev, he should go by? And she's fine giving her address to someone she is pretty sure is lying about his identity? Wheh?

Or possibly Rachel just gave them a fake address, because when they go over, there's no one there. The plot thins!

The Presentation Of Findings

Mandy directs Max and Nev to a coffee shop downtown and meets them there with Quentin. They've just finished telling Mandy about Rachel flaking on them when Rachel herself texts and says she "never made it home," but offers to meet them now instead -- which is convenient, since confirming that Rachel is a live human person who once posted on José's Facebook Wall is literally the only piece of information Max and Nev (AND THE ABSENT MRS. NEV "LOCAL INSIGHT" SCHULMAN) have brought to this appointment.

Here's what Rachel can tell them: José is her friend. She met him at Bongos. She's hung out with him. She knows him.

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Max and Nev have, since they met Mandy, been confidently telling her that José isn't real, so Mandy is maybe too giddy too fast (spoiler) at the confirmation that the José who has a Facebook profile with which she's interacted is also a live, three-dimensional man with whom Rachel has interacted, and even more giddy when she shows Rachel his photo, and Rachel says it's him. But wait, there's more! Rachel says José has mentioned Mandy before: "He's really into you." "What we're hearing right now is...unexpected," Nev says diplomatically. Rachel gets it: she's seen the show, but insists that José is real.

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Rachel giggles but promises -- pinky-swears, even -- that she's telling the truth...which is bad timing, because then she keeps talking, and the more she talks, the less credible she is. She says that José is not her boyfriend: fine. Mandy asks whether she knows why he keeps standing her up, and Rachel says she doesn't, even though the fact of the failed meetings stands in direct contradiction to her earlier claim that José is "really into" Mandy. Yes, Rachel confirms, he does have a phone. "She doesn't even have his phone number," Nev squints. "Hm," says Rachel. "He told me he doesn't have a phone," Mandy adds, which I guess he must have, but this is the first time she's said it in so many words. (Again: she probably let herself ignore a lot of extremely obvious clues given that she was also lying to him.) Rachel says José doesn't have another girlfriend, and then makes the bad liar's blunder and volunteers information without being asked: "He goes on vacation a lot? So he's in Tennessee right now and he really likes it there and he kind of like-- He pretty much told me moved there."

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Rachel goes on: "I think you just need to move on from him because he's starting a new life out there, like, I don't think he's coming back."

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"Like, I really don't even talk to him anymore," says Rachel, which...seems like it's something she could have told Nev on the phone? If it were true? Which it seems not to be, like this whole yarn? Nev, reasonably, asks why José wouldn't have told Mandy any of this himself, if he's so "into" her. "That's not fair, I agree, right, you're right," babbles Rachel. "I'm so confused," laughs Mandy ruefully. Shall we clarify it? This woman is in on the scam that "José" has been running on you for two years, and/or wanted to be on TV. "Honestly, I think she needs to talk to him for herself," Rachel declares. Nev asks for José's phone number, and Rachel readily texts it to Nev and excuses herself before they can kick her badly lying ass out.

"Do you think she's lying?" grins Mandy stupidly when Rachel has left. "She knew too much and too little at the same time," says Quentin. Goddamn Zen master over here. They try calling and get an auto-generated outgoing voicemail. Nev then wants to try texting the number; Max suggests that they search it too, but before they can, "José" responds saying he's at work and can't talk. Nev gives him a brief recap of the situation (leave it to the professionals); meanwhile, the search indicates that it's one of those sketchy internet phone numbers.

"José" corroborates Rachel's story.

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But! Nev has a new arrow in his quiver: an IP logger called Grabify. Nev can create a link and text it to José, asking him to confirm that it's his Facebook page; when José clicks, they'll have his location. I just tried this with my Facebook URL, and it generated a URL with (duh) "grabify" in it, so if someone tried this shit with me I would immediately suspect it was a phishing scheme because I have a custom Facebook URL (something we were all able to get in the late '00s). So I guess the marks for a service like this are people who are not so sophisticated in their knowledge of the internet, which I would think a successful liar like "José" would be? But either he's only ever had to be smarter than Mandy (not hard), or he was the one who actually wrote in to the show to bust himself, because sure enough, he clicks the link, and Grabify lets Nev know that José is not in Tennessee: he's in Royal Oak, near Detroit.

There's no point trying to be cute about it anymore: Nev texts back to say they know he's in Michigan and that they want to know if he'll meet up with them. While they wait, Quentin and Mandy wonder why Rachel would lie for him. (See above, guys.) "SHE'S IN ON IT," Max yips. "It might be her! We might have just been face to face."

We have to wait until the next morning for José to text back and say he will meet -- but just Nev and Max, not Mandy. And the address he's supplied is the one Shawn sent them the day before, which was supposedly Rachel's house. Is it Rachel's house? Is it Shawn's house?

The Pre-Confrontation Confrontation

I mean, it's none of those; we're about to go inside, and it's clearly an Airbnb. But its supposed resident is Chasity, from one of the, like, three episodes of this show that I did NOT cover for this site. (Hey, Joe!) Max pretends to recognize her from her episode from 2013 even though we're about to find out she had weight loss surgery (type unspecified) and, 130 pounds later, looks completely different...

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...though Max doesn't go so far as to pretend to remember her name. She says, "It's Chasity," and Nev exclaims, "Chastity!!!" Well, that would be logical, but no. As it happens, Chasity, like Mandy, originally created her fake page for quasi-defensible espionage -- in her case, to collect damning internet activity by the incarcerated, gang-affiliated father of her children, in order to build a custody case against him (with...probably inadmissible "evidence," but I'm not a lawyer, though I'm guessing neither is Chasity).

And guess what? Chasity may have deleted the fake profile she tricked Derek with back in 2013 -- and I say "may have" because, as always, we have no way of knowing whether she actually did -- but that in no way prevented her from creating at least one and for all we know many others, and it turns out Chasity is also José. And! Mandy is Chasity's cousin. "José" initially friended "Andrea" because Chasity thought it was Mandy's sister's real page; she explains (not really), "She was friends with one of my exes," but it's not clear whether she means Andrea was friends with the ex in real life, or if "Andrea" and the ex were friends on Facebook, or both, and goddamn this show for making me put this much thought into the shifting dynamics of this family of fucking losers I hope never to hear about after today.

So Chasity claims this "still had to do with [her] kids," meaning this ex is the same ex from before. However, Mandy told "José" her real name a few weeks into their Facebook acquaintance, accidentally outing herself to someone who knew both Mandy and her sister. She seems completely unrepentant, by the way.

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She doesn't know who the guy in the photos is. She did ask Shawn and Rachel to cover for her. She came up with José's move to Tennessee thinking it "could end better" that way.

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Ewwwww, this kewpie-doll capering! Mandy, like all Catfish victims, mostly victimized herself with her own stupidity and thus deserves our scorn, but Chasity might actually think she's going to be portrayed as an adorable scamp. It's pretty gross to watch.

Inside, between dimpled grins, Chasity claims that she felt bad about what she did to her cousin: Mandy needed someone to talk to about all the pain of her life. Max points out that Mandy thinks she's in love with José and that he reciprocates her feelings, and Chasity essentially says she was telling Mandy what she thought she wanted to hear. She claims she would like Chasity to be in her life for real, as a friend, and since the fact of this Airbnb MTV's rented for her certainly suggests she was the one who actually initiated the episode, maybe she does. Nev suggests that once she found out that Mandy needed a friend, Chasity could have made overtures to Mandy IRL, and Chasity kind of hems before blah blahing about her "dramatic" family history, which seems to boil down to Mandy's branch and Chasity's not getting along. Nev says they're going to have to bring Chasity to confess to Mandy, and Chasity says she doesn't want to see her. My god, this woman milking her TV time. "Oh, you're going to see her," Max announces...

...and in the very next shot, she's in the front seat as Nev and Max drive her over. ha! Max comments that despite what she's saying, she doesn't seem like she feels guilty. Chasity claims not to "show [her] emotions" a lot. Really? Because you've been beaming like an imbecile since the cameras started capturing your image.

The Confrontation

Chasity stands on the lawn as Nev brings out Mandy and Quentin. Mandy's like, "What is she doing here?," and apparently the family rift goes back so far that Quentin doesn't even know who Chasity is. Mandy and Nev each tell Quentin who Chasity is to them, to which Quentin understates, "This is a very awkward situation." hee hee.

Everyone goes inside another Airbnb, where Mandy says she's been humiliated: "By my family, once again." Yeah, that is rough. She adds that she can't fathom Chasity knowing the very private things she thought she was telling José. That's also rough, but maybe don't tell a stranger very private things? Chasity claims she would never share Mandy's confidences, and if there's one thing you can count on in this world, it's the word of someone who's been twice unmasked on Catfish.

Max asks Chasity why the deception continued for so long, and when Chasity admits that she was getting something out of it (beyond being able to use Facebook to spy on her ex, which she had also continued to do) and didn't see a way to stop, Mandy -- also an online liar -- seems to empathize. But she also doesn't want to have the rest of this conversation in front of Quentin, and Nev leads Mandy and Chasity away to another room. "Family full of catfishers," muses Quentin. Please god, don't let that be a spinoff.

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

Mandy seems calm and resigned, but she does want to know why Chasity stood her up those times they were going to meet. Because...she...was not José? Because, as previously established, she didn't want to end the relationship and, with it, the social media access to her ex? Chasity answers the question which would have made more sense for Mandy to ask -- why "José" agreed to meet without ever having any intention of actually meeting -- and says she thought Mandy wanted to meet up and didn't know how to decline. Mandy wants to know how she's supposed to forgive Chasity, and Chasity just says she hopes that, even if it takes a while, Mandy eventually will. Mandy finally says she thinks Chasity owes her an apology, which Chasity supplies readily if not especially soulfully.

Unsatisfied, Mandy asks Chasity to leave and brings in Nev to tell him she doesn't believe Chasity's really sorry, and that she'd rather keep Quentin away from that side of the family: "I can't forgive her, and I don't want to talk to her, and I just-- I don't even want to see her. Like, I'm done." I'm kind of surprised more marks don't say this kind of thing? I guess they have magic producers at MTV who know how to elicit the emotional response that fits their narrative and get it on camera, but still. "That's...fffffffair," Nev mumbles ineffectually, clearly hating Mandy's unwillingness to pretend to be at peace.

Mandy and Nev come back out, where Mandy calmly tells Chasity again that she's humiliated and upset, and that she can't accept her apology: "I think it's better if we just don't talk at all. Ever. And, if you could leave, it'd be nice." Chasity stares blankly through this speech before nodding and saying it's understandable: "Maybe you'll feel differently down the road, 'cause you do have family that does care about you." I think if you've been getting along without each other for the entire duration of Quentin's life, neither of you is going to be missing much if you cut things off, which you...clearly should, this shit is toxic! Nev and Max hustle Chasity out to return to HER Airbnb with all due haste.

Hugs?

No hugs at all -- not even from Nev or Max.

The Aftermath

Three months later, Chasity says she and Mandy have been talking and even shows them a photo of herself with Mandy at the gym. She says that Mandy doesn't trust her yet, but that she's getting there. Nev "jokingly" asks whom Chasity's going to catfish next, and she chirps, "Hopefully no one!" Love that she left herself some wiggle room, but Nev crows, "That's the right answer!" Right enough for you, idiot.

Mandy apparently didn't want to be filmed on Skype, because our update on her is a screen with text: she continues to grow her friendship with Chasity and isn't ready to forgive her completely, but feels family is important and is therefore willing to try. She's not dating yet, but wants to make room for the right guy. Who doesn't?

The Life Lessons Learned

Don't spend two years on someone you can't get on the phone. Take a hint after the first time someone stands you up. Rewarding a liar you've already caught once by putting her on TV a second time may not be the deterrent you think it is. Everyone has a phone.

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