Will Catfish Help Spencer And Katy's (Teenage) Dream Come True?
Or will Katy turn out to be The One That Got Away?
Spencer, of Knoxville, TN.
The pop star Katy Perry, of California. You: "'The pop star Katy Perry'? 'I Kissed A Girl'? Left Shark? That Katy Perry is this guy's online girlfriend?" Yes. That Katy Perry.
Guys: I know.
This is kind of an unconventional episode, so let's start with the clues that make Spencer think his online girlfriend IS the pop star Katy Perry: "I've been talking to her for six years. Just the millions and millions of details. Little stories, like when she was growing up, that only Katy would know."
You: "But if he's confirmed to his own satisfaction that it's stuff only she would know, isn't it probably public information that, if he could Google it, ANYONE COULD GOOGLE IT?" You, dear reader, are a lot shrewder than Spencer! Because poor old Spencer was on Yahoo! Messenger six years ago -- fortunately enough for him, the same day the pop star Katy Perry was...
...and he has just literally never looked back. At all.
After Spencer and Katy exchanged many "I love you"s, Spencer says, she wanted to get exclusive: "Katy got to the point of really wanting to go all in with me and have me completely attached to her, I guess. But then she quickly killed that idea probably about two weeks after that. She deleted the Yahoo! Messenger, she didn't tell me why. Later, in an email, she said that she had sent a message explaining everything, but I never got the message, and she never re-sent it, so I would like to, you know, meet face to face, see if there's a future here." This comes, by the way, moments after Spencer has acknowledged that Katy Perry is currently dating Orlando Bloom -- but sure, she absolutely might throw him over in favour of Spencer.
Spencer's also been talking to the pop star Katy Perry through the period in which she was married to Russell Brand, by the way; that never comes up.
Spencer is also pretty sure the Katy Perry he's been talking to is the pop star Katy Perry because she's sent him tracks before they were released. They were on YouTube. Spencer doesn't see the problem: "Part of the fun for her was keeping me kind of guessing."
Spencer and the pop star Katy Perry have talked not just about making their relationship IRL official, but having kids and getting married; Spencer has even made her an engagement ring, taking the emerald from his grandmother's ring and putting it in a new diamond band -- a project on which he says he spent about a quarter of his life's savings.
Max kicks off what will be a recurring question in the episode: on a scale of 1 to 10, where would Spencer rate his certainty that he has really been talking to Katy Perry for six years? "Like, 1000." But even so, there are elements of his story OTHER THAN THE OBVIOUS that are suggestive that his Katy Perry is not the pop star Katy Perry. For instance: he's only spoken to her on the phone one time, "and it was $270 because she had a phone from Canada."
The reason the pop star Katy Perry was using a Canadian phone was that she was on tour in Canada at the time. But that's kind of it: everything else about Spencer's application to the show seems less to be the usual "unmask this probable fake" than "bring me to the pop star Katy Perry on MTV's dime."
Nev and Max start looking into the pop star Katy Perry, Spencer's online girlfriend, by agreeing that it's definitely not actually the pop star Katy Perry; not even confirmed optimist Nev is willing to grant even that there's a slight chance of finding out that it is, though only Max will say he's 100% sure it isn't.
The only information Spencer has provided is that Canadian phone number and an email address, so they start with the phone. It is indeed Canadian; the 403 area code places it in Alberta, specifically Calgary. It comes up as a cell phone, but without a name attached. They then search the email, and...
WELL, THAT WAS EASY. And while OF COURSE it is wrong to victimize anyone online, whether emotionally or financially, given how credulous Spencer is, I am disappointed that this Harriet didn't take him for any money, too. If he didn't even do this much research in six fucking years, he would deserve it, and while it might be a hard sell convincing him that an internationally famous pop star might need him to wire her a few hundred bucks, I bet Harriet could have pulled it off with this imbecile.
But never mind that: now that Nev and Max have seen Harriet's photo, they have to spend the next five minutes exclaiming, "This girl's hot!" and marveling that someone their show has targeted might lie online for reasons other than physical repulsiveness.
Once they note that this photo is on her profile at Ask.fm, they head over there for more info.
Next, they find Harriet on Facebook; she's currently in Gloucester, England, but formerly of Calgary, so the phone number makes more sense. More photographic evidence of her cuteness is available on her Facebook profile, shocking Max and Nev once again, but there's also material relevant to the matter at hand in the form of a screen shot of the pop star Katy Perry's having faved some Katy fan art Harriet made. AND, there's also a message from an apparently real person named Amy, suggesting an IRL hang. After contacting this Amy to try to find out more about Harriet, Max and Nev -- convinced that the profile is real -- head back over to Spencer's to break the news. Which actually will, some-fucking-how, BE NEWS TO HIS SIMPLE ASS.
At the house to get the download with Spencer is his brother Sam, who didn't know about ANY of this before today, apparently. After explaining the premise of the show to Sam, Nev invites Spencer to give him the background on his situation, and since Spencer knows how to build suspense, he's all "in love," "woman," "six years"..."It's Katy Perry."
It's as awkward as poor Sam makes it look, particularly after Max makes Spencer tell Sam about the ring. "That's intense!" understates Sam. Max suggests that Spencer go get it from wherever he's hidden it in this Airbnb where he definitely does not live, and when he's out of the room, Max and Nev ask what Sam thinks. "It's an incredible story," says Sam, understating some more. "Too incredible to be...true?" Drop that question mark, Sam. Max asks whether Spencer has "a history of incredible stories," which is a polite way of asking whether Spencer is stupid or a liar or both. "No," says Sam firmly. I mean, okay, but Spencer's also kept all this entirely secret for the better part of a decade, so maybe Sam doesn't actually know everything about him?
When Spencer returns with the ring, Sam diplomatically says, "I'm really glad that you've had someone that you've been talking to, and someone that obviously means a lot. That's really awesome to get to hear." Translation: our parents and I all thought you were picking up hitchhikers and eating their hands, so to find out you're just a gullible moron is a relief, if a somewhat sad one. Spencer, very gravely, says that he loves his girlfriend, the pop star Katy Perry, and when Sam says he's there for Spencer "no matter what," Spencer says he doesn't have any doubts, and Sam's like, byeeeeeeeee, and runs to the driveway to, I assume, call their parents and let them know that what Spencer's into is much more boring than they feared, and that Aunt Rosalie wins the pool after all. (What he actually says is that he promises not to tell their mom, and I guess it is likely that she's not going to stumble upon this episode when she's looking for Are You The One? or something.)
Off the rest of them go for the debrief -- but first, Max checks in on Spencer's level of certainty about his girlfriend, the pop star Katy Perry. Still 1000. Oh boy.
They start with the phone number, which Spencer says he already searched. But he confirms that he had never searched the email address (idiot); he's never heard Harriet's name before. And when Max and Nev show him Harriet's Ask.fm bio, it immediately convinces him that Harriet can't be the person he's been speaking to: the pop star Katy Perry is, according to Spencer, "not the biggest Lady Gaga fan." "Like, actively dislikes Lady Gaga," Max asks. Spencer hesitates before replying, "Do you want me to announce that? Is it okay to say? Yeah....The night that I fell in love with Katy, a lot of the conversation was dissing on Lady Gaga." HOT SCOOP! SOMEONE CALL TM MOTHERFUCKING Z!!!!!
Anyway: Spencer is not persuaded by the evidence that the email address with which he's been corresponding is associated with Harriet, so Max and Nev move on to her Facebook profile, and both the Calgary connection and the Katy Perry fan art screen shot. While Spencer keeps frowning at everything Nev pulls up on screen, Nev says he and Max are "pretty confident" that Harriet is the person Spencer's been talking to -- making sure to add, in case Spencer hadn't noticed, that Harriet is attractive, I guess so that he'll consider her as a romantic prospect even if she isn't the pop star Katy Perry. Spencer does allow that "it seems like it's the person," but it's clear that, deep down, he still doesn't believe them. So instead of trying to produce more evidence that they don't have, Nev suggests going to Gloucester and ambushing Harriet, and since I doubt very much that the show that never stays anywhere nicer than a Hampton Inn would spend the money on this trip if someone wasn't fairly sure Harriet would agree to meet, I feel we can all assume she's the one who initiated this, or at least that the show vetted her pretty extensively before putting Max and Nev on the case. "That's extremely embarrassing," says Spencer in response to the idea that they all go to England, and though you might think by that he means HE should be embarrassed that he's been taken in by such an obvious series of lies, he adds, "You've had six years to tell me who you are!" Oh. He thinks she should be embarrassed. "So you're ruining my life right now," he mumbles. "For what? 'Cause you're an insecure girl? It's hateful." He ends by saying he's confused, and when Max assures him that it's okay to say he doesn't want to go, Spencer says, "I want her to apologize to me in my face, so let's go to England."
But before they do, we get a diary cam tape of Spencer, who says he's had some time to think about what Nev and Max showed him: "I've gone back and listened to some of her songs on the last album. All of them have little bits of lyrics that are clues to me? It was, uh-- It was up to me to figure it out, but I figured it out. I'm fully 100% confident it's Katy. Um, she's smart. I think that she has planted this Harriet seed from way back in 2010, and we are all bearing witness to it coming to fruition. It's Katy. I know it's Katy." GAAAAAAAAAAAH THIS IS SO CREEPY HOW DID IT MAKE IT ON THE AIR, KATY PERRY PLEASE PULL ALL YOUR VIDEOS FROM THIS NETWORK AND NEVER RISK APPEARING AT ANOTHER VMA TELECAST BECAUSE WHAT IF THIS GUY IS THERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE??????!!!?!???!!!?!?
When Max and Nev pick up Spencer to go to the airport, Max asks whether he talked to Sam about this, and Spencer says, "I might've mentioned to him that I'm thinking of meeting Katy Perry possibly." In the back seat, Max practically breaks his neck rolling not just his eyes but his entire HEAD at the reveal that Spencer still thinks the pop star Katy Perry is his online girlfriend. "I haven't ruled that out as a possibility," Spencer drones. "Dude, you're not talking to Katy Perry," says Max. "I did Google Katy last night," says Spencer. Nev asks what he found. Spencer: "That maybe her current situation, there might be some rocky waters, so." But bro, you have her extremely real email address: why not just ask her directly?! Nev and Max surmise that Spencer believes, based on this gossip, "there might be an opening" for him. "Weirder shit has happened," says Nev. "Really?" asks Spencer. Nev shrugs: "I mean, just in general." HA! It's so rare that Nev gets a joke to land that I feel like I should send him a gold medal for that one.
So they go to England. While there, they finally hear back from Amy, who agrees to FaceTime. She confirms not just that she knows Harriet, but that Harriet is her ex-girlfriend; when Max tries to get a read on Harriet's sexual orientation, Amy is unambiguous: "She's a hundred per cent gay." Oh Amy, don't say that where Spencer can hear; you're just giving him more hope that his idiotic fantasy might come true!!! Anyway: Nev tells Amy that they're planning to drive to Gloucester that day, and will be staying at the Hotel Convent; could Amy mention to Harriet that the Catfish train is headed her way? (More proof that Harriet already knows, btw.) And sure enough, when they end the call, Spencer tells Nev and Max that Amy's characterization of Harriet's sexuality is "huge evidence" that Harriet's not the person with whom he's been corresponding, and that, as far as he's concerned, the possibility that he really has been talking to the pop star Katy Perry is "still on the table."
In keeping with the up-is-down nature of this episode, not even the Confrontation happens in the normal manner. Nev and Max are strategizing in their suite about how to MAKE SPENCER UNDERSTAND that he has not, in fact, been online-dating the pop star Katy Perry when the room phone rings: it's the receptionist, informing them that Harriet is there to see them, and act all weirded out as though they didn't just tell Amy earlier this very day where they were going to be staying. Whatever: they go down the hall to collect Spencer from his room and head out to "the garden." And who is there waiting for them?
The non-pop star Harriet. Asked by Max, she immediately confirms that she is, in fact, the person Spencer's been talking to for the past six years. "You don't know Katy Perry," Nev asks. "No," says Harriet, and giggles. "Anything to say to me?" Spencer prompts, and she giggles again: "I'm sorry, I guess."
Speaking for Spencer, Nev scolds, "It's not the kind of thing you guess you're sorry about," and Harriet agrees, but laughs again instead of repeating her apology in a more sincere tone of voice. As Max and Spencer side-eye Harriet, Nev asks her if there's something about the situation she finds humorous, as if he's never before in his life OR ON THIS SHOW encountered a situation where someone covered extreme social discomfort by laughing. However, this does settle Harriet down as she assures Nev that she doesn't think this is funny. Not even I think it is, but that's mostly because Spencer is making it SO CREEPY.
Max comments that Spencer had told them he was convinced that Harriet was the pop star Katy Perry because of the facility with which she could supply details abut the pop star Katy Perry's life. Harriet says that she was a big Katy Perry fan at the time. "I was checking everything," Spencer intones, still somehow not getting that if HE could use Google to fact-check this shit, SO COULD FUCKING HARRIET.
So now that the interaction is three minutes old, Spencer feels ready to make a ruling on Harriet, and comments, "Six years, like, this is the first time, us meeting? I feel like...more excitement, maybe?" In case that string of unrelated clauses made no sense to you, Nev tries to untangle Spencer's meaning: "You would feel it." "From her, towards me," says Spencer. In other words: Spencer thinks Harriet should be more effusive. Well, she started on the defensive, because she knew she'd been wrong in the way she carried on, and that you were upset, and that she was being brought on TV to be unmasked and humiliated, pretty much. Maybe you don't know how a person acts in that situation because it's fucking weird?
But it's just a prelude to Spencer's attempts to prove that Nev and Max were wrong and that Harriet is a plant enlisted by the pop star Katy Perry -- Spencer's girlfriend -- to mess with him. "Where did we meet again?" Spencer asks Harriet. "On the app," says Harriet.
"Who else could it be?" asks Nev, already afraid of the answer. "I mean, really Katy," says Spencer. DUH!
We are all this crew guy.
This is such a fucking insane thing for Spencer to say that the the show has to take a commercial break to let us all recover, and when we come back, Max tells Spencer, "You can't possibly think it's still [the pop star] Katy Perry." "I do," says Spencer IMMEDIATELY. Max is actually dumbstruck by the DUMB for a second, but then turns to Harriet to ask her to pop Spencer's bubble by informing him -- again -- that he hasn't actually been talking to the pop star Katy Perry. Nev suggests telling Spencer something that only the person he'd been speaking to would know. "Your middle name's Ray?" offers Harriet.
"You dressed up as that hot sauce for Hallowe'en," Harriet adds. "What's the name of our kids that we talked about?" says Spencer, once again constitutionally incapable of NOT making it weird. "It was Laika, Luca...something else," she says. "Started with 'L,' probably." Her hesitation, of course, just proves to Spencer that he's right to hold on to his delusions, and he instantly turns to Nev and mutters, "It's not her." Nev asks if she got the names wrong, and Spencer shrugs that she was right about the two she could remember. "Oh, it was Boz!" Harriet interjects. Guys, there's so much going on here that I can't really get into how horrible those names are but JESUS CHRIST.
Losing patience, Max tries to tell Spencer that he's not getting punked: "This is it!" "I think that Katy would get a kick out of me getting punked a little bit?" says Spencer. "This might be a little bit part of that." Nev tries to figure out what Spencer thinks is happening: "So Katy Perry and Harriet conspired to bring you here--" "I mean, she got some details that were pretty important wrong," says Spencer smugly. "BECAUSE SHE DOESN'T CARE!" yells Max. "They're not important details to her," Nev agrees. "She didn't care that much, which is maybe harder to accept," says Max. Oh God, and then...
...we see that Spencer brought the ring, on his pinky, to this meeting. He really, really, REALLY thought Katy Perry was going to be standing on this lawn and he was going to hear her Roar. This fucking dimwit. Nev begs Spencer to admit that he and Max have proved beyond doubt that Spencer hasn't been talking to the pop star Katy Perry but that he's determined to keep believing it because it makes him happy...and then turns to Harriet to tell her she needs to start thinking about other people's feelings, because Spencer's particular brand of FUCKING CRAY has largely sidelined her and the part she played in all this. We still have no idea why she deceived Spencer this way, though I have to say the answer might be that it was easy AND HILARIOUS? But Harriet nods. "This is the actual human being," Nev tells Harriet, gesturing at Spencer. "As weird and crazy as he might be, [he] has a heart!" LOL THAT HE'S NOT EVEN SUGAR-COATING SPENCER'S WEIRD CRAZINESS!!! I mean, how could he, but we've seen Nev put lipstick on pigs as deluded as this one before.
Nev wraps up by saying both Spencer and Harriet need to do "some self-reflection." To say the least?
"Scale of 1 to 10," Max laughs, "how confident are you that you're talking to Katy Perry?" "I'll go with a 9," says Spencer. "Well, at least it's down from a 10," says Nev. It's down from 1000, actually, Nev, pay attention.
Back in their suite, Max and Nev try YET AGAIN to make Spencer agree with them that Harriet is absolutely for sure the person he's been talking to. "I guess her personality just doesn't match at all," drawls Spencer. Max feels the need to lay out the situation without ambiguity, telling Spencer there's no Katy Perry at the end of this story: "There's not even a girl who's in love with you." He thinks Spencer needs to work on accepting that reality. If Spencer indicates a willingness to do this as he leaves the room, we don't hear it...
...but the next day, when he rejoins Max and Nev, and Max asks how sure he is that he's been talking to the pop star Katy Perry, Spencer says he's at a 1. Nev is impressed that Spencer's made that much progress (and, to be fair, Max didn't give Spencer a scale of 0 to 10, so that's literally the best they could have hoped for). Spencer says that he was "gullible for sure." He says he'd like Harriet to evince "a little more awareness" of what she put Spencer through. Max thinks that's fair.
Nev says that he and Max thought they'd talk to Harriet first, and meet her in the garden of a pub. She admits that she was nervous the day before, and feels that things were "left unsaid." She explains that the gap between the warmth and playfulness of her Katy Perry profile and the way she presented herself in person is due to the fact that when she started the fake account, she aspired to be more confident, like Katy Perry herself is. "Were you shocked that this guy believed that you were Katy Perry?" asks Max, on behalf of us all. "Yeah," says Harriet. "He was, like, the only one." Good lord, I SHOULD HOPE SO. She adds that she wanted Spencer in her life because he was so accepting of her (lies) (I added that part). She feels guilty that she made him go to this extent to get answers about their fake relationship. Max urges her to be accountable with Spencer, and she says she can.
Max and Nev drive Harriet back to their hotel, and meet Spencer back on the lawn. After Nev and Max and the rest of the crew give them some privacy, Harriet apologizes for her manner the day before. She says that the fake profile started because she was isolated from school and friends; she was lonely, but also scared of "putting [her]self out there." But she's appreciated the steadiness of her relationship with Spencer through the hard times she's gone through during those six years -- the death of her father, for example. She starts to cry, and Spencer offers his condolences with the same lack of affect he's said every other thing in this episode. It's hard for her to acknowledge that she hurt him, but she is sorry and she understands that what she did was wrong. Spencer admits that he needs to learn not to come into situations like this with such an "open heart." JUST BE LESS DUMB. GOD. Harriet says that she cares a lot about Spencer even though "obviously, I'm not straight. It's weird." She doesn't know where that leaves Spencer, but he says he'll be fine. AND WE'RE ABOUT TO FIND OUT WHY.
There are no hugs.
Two months later, Max asks Spencer his scale of 1 to 10 question one more time.
"He's cured," says Nev. Spencer says he thinks he's stronger for the experience and that he'll try not to be so gullible. First of all, he will try? He hasn't enacted that policy already? Second, "TRY"?! Jesus. Nev asks whether Spencer's had any contact with Harriet. "Nothing," Spencer replies. Max and Nev are surprised. Spencer says he's sent a couple of emails, and Max says they're going to call Harriet now and find out why she hasn't responded.
And then they do. "It wasn't what I expected," says Harriet of Spencer's emails. "Kind of just about how he met a girl in England and he was confused as to why he didn't meet Katy. And then he said, like, 'I love you' and stuff." "So Spencer sends an email to your 'Katy Perry' email address telling 'Katy Perry' that he came to England and met you," Nev summarizes. "Yeah," says Harriet. And it's at this point that I wonder whether this episode should have aired? Because Spencer seems like he might be really unwell in a clinical way.
But, of course, Max and Nev are not qualified to make that judgment, so they just call Spencer back and report what they just heard from Harriet, acting like they think this is the funniest thing that's ever happened and not proof that Spencer might actually need to be medicated for his very serious and unshakeable delusions. "I was still doing some investigating," says Spencer.
"So you just wanted to be 200% sure that [the pop star] Katy [Perry] wasn't behind all this," says Max. "Yeah," says Spencer. "And now are you sure?" asks Max. Spencer says he is. I AM NOT SURE I BELIEVE HIM. "Spencer, man, you are one of our favourite people we've ever had on the show," says Max. "Thanks, man," says Spencer, who doesn't understand that what Max is really saying is that Spencer is insane enough to have made A VERY MEMORABLE EPISODE OF TELEVISION.
Pop stars don't use random chat apps to talk to strangers. Pop stars don't try to impress non-famous people by sending them publicly available YouTube links to their unreleased tracks. Pop stars don't want rings you made out of your grandmother's old tat. YOUR ONLINE GIRLFRIEND IS NOT THE POP STAR KATY PERRY.
For Booze Week, we ask:
What's Katy Perry's favourite cocktail?
- Hot n Cold Fashioned
- Waking Up In Manhattan
- Part Of Me-mosa
- Singapore Slinging Of You