Screens: MTV

Will John And His Johnson Find True Love With Kelsey?

John loves a fellow anxiety-sufferers' chat room user so much he sent her a dick pic. But are they really Meant To Be?

The Client

John, a twenty-seven-year-old IT guy from Detroit.

The Beloved

Kelsey, of Orlando.

The Clues

After meeting on a chat room for people with social anxiety, they've IMed a lot but they've only had one voice conversation; she's not on Facebook; she's only sent him a handful of photos of herself; though he considers her his girlfriend, he doesn't know her last name or even have her phone number; after John sent her a dick pic...

Catfish

...she not only didn't reciprocate but didn't even really acknowledge it.

The Excuses

John has been "trying to be good" (per Max) by not looking too hard into her story and trusting what she's told him rather than stalking her online (so he's...just arranged for these idiot proxies to do it for him?); she has body dysmorphic disorder, which makes her wary of videochatting or sending more photos (even though one of the photos she sent is a bikini shot, which would seem to be a weird choice for someone with that particular ailment).

The Investigation

John had already searched the images Kelsey sent him and turned up nothing; Max and Nev double-check and also fail to find any other results, so that's a dead end. Really the only other lead they have is the chat room where John and Kelsey "met," and for which John has sent them a list of users he's interacted with -- though since the focus of the group seems to be anxiety, social and otherwise, getting any of these skittish ponies to talk to them might be a challenge? OR MAYBE NOT, as some dude named Aaron gets back to them as soon as they send a message out, and gets on videochat to say he IMs with Kelsey almost every day -- only on the friendship tip -- but that they've never videochatted either; he also knows about her body dysmorphic disorder and has only seen her profile pic.

Overnight, they get a message from Ellie, another chat room user who lives in the Faroe Islands. She has also IMed with Kelsey, as friends. Ellie's never been to the U.S., but she's thinking about making a trip sometime in the summer so she can meet her boyfriend Adam, whose name Nev and Max recognize from the list of chat room members. Kelsey hasn't ever agreed to videochat with Ellie, either -- though Ellie doesn't seem bothered by that, given that she's never videochatted with Adam either. Nev points to Ellie -- who, he notes, is pretty, because that's the most important thing -- as evidence that non-goblins do, clearly, use this particular chat room, and maybe Kelsey is another one.

The Presentation Of Findings

"I did have an interest there, at some point," says John of Ellie. That's kind of it, because John came to the table with such thin fucking gruel. Nev basically just shrugs, like, should we see if she wants to meet up? So he messages her, and -- the next day, over Skype IM only -- she says she's nervous about meeting John in person and what he might think of her. "Might be a really good step to take toward letting yourself be loved," Nev type-narrates. Max:

Catfish

Kelsey falls for this line of bullshit and agrees to meet John in person the next day -- that she weirdly adds "I will make sure I buy something nice at the mall so I can look my best for him" is kiiiiiiiind of a tipoff as to what is about to happen -- and gives them her address in Orlando.

The Confrontation

So our band of morons gets all the way to Orlando and John puts on a dumb purple shirt and they get in the rental car with its 800 GoPro cameras to drive to the address Kelsey gave them...which is an empty lot. Nev texts to be like, what the fuck, and she replies that she wanted to make sure they were really in town; she's actually waiting for them at a café nearby, and gives them that address. "I just got bumped up from yellow to orange alert," says Max authoritatively. John already has regrets.

Catfish

So then they get to the alleged café and it turns out to be some kind of sad strip mall business center. "This is all a bunch of bullshit," says John. Easy, Dick Pic.

They go into this place and it turns out to be some kind of strip mall CASINO full of olds and video poker (or whatever) that is sadder than 500 hospices.

Catfish

The crew wanders through looking for anyone under the age of 110 and come upon this nerd off in a corner.

Catfish

John sort of laughs, but by this point, he can't be too surprised. This is Adam from the chat room, Ellie's boyfriend. His endgame was "just to have fun with you." "Is there something else more meaningful that you think you proved with this?" Nev asks hopefully, like...what would that be? Adam's coming-out story? Adam's like, nice try, Chest Pelt, but no. He just used pictures of some girl he went to high school with to fuck with John. Max then asks whether Adam has a job or if he's in school, and Adam confidently says, "This is my job right now": every day, he comes to this horribly depressing business center-cum-casino and uses an algorithm he's worked out to time the jackpot; for his troubles, he makes about $60 a day. So (a) he definitely had lots of time to mess around with a variety of people using his phone's Skype app, and (b) his...time is not worth much to begin with. I mean, he doesn't say how many hours it takes him to make $60, and I don't know what answer might make me think this isn't extremely pathetic.

Long story short: Adam did this to get on TV, and despite Max and Nev's judgment, he is remorseless. "This is the kind of loser that gives our show a bad name," says Max, and he's right: when this is the impression Catfish gives to the casual viewer, it really lowers the value of all the episodes they do profiling Doctors Without Borders volunteers and inner-city kindergarten teachers. NOT REALLY, THE SHOW IS ALL ABOUT LOSERS OF ONE KIND OR ANOTHER -- either the ones who have so little going on in their lives that they'd construct fake identities for sport, OR the ones so IRREDEEMABLY STUPID that they fall for it! Max storms out. Nev calls this all "a big waste." John says he expected that he might end up being the victim of an internet troll. Adam is disappointed that John is just sad and resigned rather than really angry. Worst of all, no one would corroborate Adam's view of himself as "the king of the catfish," but Adam doesn't care: he has a good job (...working his casino algorithm is a job? Okay) and a good life (hmmmmm).

But THEN, they go back to the hotel and totally narc on Adam to Ellie! What a couple of bitches. I guess I would do the same, but on the other hand, let her learn life's harsh lessons her own self and focus on the bonehead who took the trouble to write to you.

The Post-Confrontation Confrontation

Somehow, Nev and Max don't refuse to give Adam the benefit of their precious Couch Time, and since Adam's had the evening to get coached by the show's producers in how to fake sincerity, he puts on a decent approximation of regret as he explains that he created Kelsey to (a) siphon off John's attention and keep John away from Ellie, and (b) have girl talk with Ellie so that he could better seduce her. But! He says that yesterday was the very first day that Ellie ignored his texts and IMs and stuff, so he's wondering if they did anything to sabotage his relationship with her. Max says they just told her what he did. Adam:

Catfish

As Max justifies this spot-up-blowing, Nev clearly wants no part of it, and the camera HILARIOUSLY catches him staring straight into it like a total psycho.

Catfish Catfish Catfish Catfish

On the pretext of letting John confront Adam in private, Max says he and Nev are going to take off. But what they really do is go outside and get on a Skype video call with Ellie. So as Adam is telling (lying to) John about how guilty he feels, and John is doing Season 3's requisite "But you're so smart!" fluffing of the gigantic liar (because fooling a stupid person automatically makes someone smart? By comparison, I guess, but this trope GOTS to go), Max and Nev come back in with Ellie on Nev's laptop. Surpriiiiiiise! Speaking of dumb: Ellie doesn't stop smiling through the whole conversation with Adam and doesn't seem particularly bothered by anything Adam did. When she gets to the part about keeping John out of the way, she actually seems flattered, so maybe they actually deserve each other.

Hugs?

There are no hugs.

The Aftermath

Two months later, Adam has deactivated the Kelsey account and is couch-surfing in Los Angeles trying to become a writer. "I guess I've grown from it, sure," says Adam after Nev leads the witness. As for Ellie: after the show taping, their relationship was "iffy," and "things are better than ever now." Max still hates his guts.

John is still involved with that same chat group, and has forgiven Adam. He's in Illinois hanging out with a "female friend" with whom he's interacted in real life. John and Adam are "amicable," according to John. EVERYONE ADAM HAS EVER TALKED TO IS SO DUMB. It's actually kind of shocking.

The Life Lessons Learned

If you have a job in IT, Nev and Max will be prepared to award you a Rhodes Scholarship. Girls from the Faroe Islands are dumb. Never send anyone a dick pic. If you have the patience to hang out in a business center/casino and learn a pattern, you, too, could earn a princely $60 a day.

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