Catelynn And Tyler Try To Expand The Brand With Teen Mom Presents: Reunited
What happens when you cross Catfish and Dr. Phil? Nothing good.
Welcome to the show Catelynn calls "our" dream and the show Tyler calls "my" dream. Read into that what you will. If it weren't the pilot, I'd opt to skip this part, but I guess it's useful to have some idea what the heck we're about to watch?
Tyler voiceovers that after he and Cate shared their adoption story on TV, people started contacting them asking for advice or telling their own story of being separated from family members. "If me and you are meant to do something, it's this," he tells Cate, because the "something" clearly isn't going to college, working for a living, or being attentive parents to Nova.
The couple drives to Traverse City, Michigan, to meet a young woman named Kati. Cate reads an email this Kati supposedly wrote "to us" that begins "Dear world." Nice try, Cate! That's why this is only Tyler's show. After she finishes, he expositions that they have the power to help and support Kati and isn't he the greatest. We're at 2:05 and I have already considered turning the show off twice. Cate loudly mentions that she and Tyler aren't professional therapists, which (a) good job not getting sued, and (b) WE KNOW.
Kati, Tyler, and Catelynn "pop a squat" on hot pink chairs in her yard while Kati talks about having been adopted from Hawaii as an infant. Tyler pointedly asks her if she feels sad and like something is missing, because he only gets paid if Kati cries on camera. Kati explains that she found her mom, Jackie, on Facebook and has been messaging with her. Her mom was in prison recently and just got out; Kati has also learned that she has another sister, Hazel, who was adopted and also lives in Hawaii. There is a solid five minutes of Tyler and Catelynn saying things like "wow"; "like, awesome"; and "this is huge." It is precisely as boring as it sounds.
Brain Trust Time
The pacing of this show needs major work. It's schizophrenic: first we drive to Kati's; then meet with her outside the house; then she goes in while Catelynn and Tyler walk somewhere and make a phone call; then we go inside; then we go to another state and repeat the same thing. During this segment, Cate and Tyler do what they're best at -- using social media -- to look up Hazel on Facebook. (At least Catfish tries to add some drama with reverse Google image searching, guys.) Then they message Hazel, who just happens to be checking her "other" inbox at that exact moment and just happens to be around to talk on the phone. It takes about five seconds for Hazel to agree to meet with C&T, so they go back inside Kati's house -- it's weird to think this whole staged scene was happening maybe ten feet away from where Kati was standing acting like she had no idea -- and look at some old photos of Kati and Jackie while Cate cries about how she feels for the birth mom in this situation. If this wasn't also what all of their Teen Mom segments were about, I could possibly be moved to care. Anyway, this round of pretending is over, so it's time for Cate, Tyler, Kati, and Kati's boyfriend Also Named Tyler to jet off to a fancy Airbnb on Oahu.
As soon as they arrive, Cate and Tyler ditch Kati and Also Named Tyler to go off in search of Hazel. Tyler worries that Hazel might have some animosity toward her previously-unknown bio sister. (Spoiler alert: she doesn't. This scene has all the tension of a wet noodle.) Also, if I never heard "Cake By the Ocean" ever again it would be too fucking soon.
C&T introduce themselves to Hazel, who has a baby with her, and her adoptive mom Denise. "You look so much like your sister!" Cate squeals as Denise's face falls. You weren't kidding about not being professionals, huh? In case you weren't sure it was Hawaii, Cate and Tyler are wearing matching purple leis they picked up between the airport and here. I will give Cate credit, though, and say her makeup looks very nice.
Hazel had a tougher go of it than Kati: she was in foster care for years, then got adopted at age ten. Hazel talks about Jackie being an addict and also selling drugs, and reveals that she had to care for her younger siblings, sometimes to the point of digging through the trash to try to find food for them. She has a story of grabbing a little bag of crystal meth, thinking it was sugar, and Jackie beating the shit out of her. Cate and Tyler's response is to nod and cry and for Cate to stick out her hand in a faux-comforting way that misses badly and ends up looking like the volleyball scene in the opening credits of Daria. If that wasn't bad enough, Hazel was also raped and molested -- presumably as a young kid, based o the timeline -- because of her biological mom's negligence, and she says "I'll never forgive that bitch." Maybe Hazel could host this show instead? She is a thousand times more compelling in her brief time on screen than Cate has been in years.
Oh, and Tyler likes pineapple now. At least he can pronounce it correctly, unlike "garGONzelah."
Jackie briefly makes her case, which Cate is too busy eating to care much for. Jackie's honestly surprised that any of her kids wants to have a relationship with her, but doesn't seem to realize it's only the one who didn't grow up knowing her. She admits to some mistakes and alludes to a shitty childhood of her own, but putting this right after Hazel's very powerful scene just feels like...meh. On the plus side, Catelynn was able to eat an entire meal without Tyler berating her for it, so maybe it's good he has something else to focus on?
Kati and Hazel
Hugging. Crying. Camera dudes shoving the lens as close as they can. You get the idea. The two long-lost sisters meeting each other for the first time is such a sweet moment made incredibly awkward by Cate, Tyler, and Also Named Tyler just sitting there watching the whole thing but not talking or reacting. Once again, the pacing is a mess -- we keep zipping from place to place so quickly it feels like whiplash, and for some reason we keep moving from inside the house to outside because C&T need to "introduce" the players to each other and usher everyone from A to B, even when A and B are ten feet apart. It's exhausting to watch. Poor Hazel has to tell her entire story again, on camera, which underlines the "C&T do not need to be present for every fucking scene" point even further. I'm really glad these two got to meet and that Kati got a free trip to Hawaii, but I just feel like they deserve some fucking privacy. Hazel agrees to stay when Kati and Jackie meet, but only because Kati asks her to, and she looks pissed as hell.
Kati, Hazel, and Jackie
Unsurprisingly, this does not go well. Hazel makes it about thirty seconds through the attempts by Jackie (whom she calls "that woman") at apologizing before saying "fuck that" and storming out of the room. Kati hangs on a little longer, but when she point-blank asks Jackie if she was using during her pregnancy and Jackie says yes, Kati shakes her head no and begins crying. Also Named Tyler is there to comfort her, but she leaves the room. Is that Teen Mom producer Larry Musnik I saw there creeping past the camera?
Tyler's still trying to play peacemaker (or, more accurately, doing his Dr. Drew impression), but it's hard when both daughters are done with this shit: one is furious, one's sobbing so hard she can't talk, and Jackie is sort of sitting there like "Yeah, I fucked up, but they still have to pay me for this, right?" and shrugging nervously. Tyler brings up his own story for the thousandth time to try to get Jackie to understand how kids of drug-addicted parents feel, but Hazel already said it better. Kati agrees to come back out, and tells Jackie honestly how much it hurt to know that her mom was using drugs while pregnant and how it negatively affected her own health. Kati agrees to a conditional relationship, but says that if she ever finds out Jackie's using again, she's out and not coming back.
Four months later, we catch up with Kati via Skype. Kati reveals that now that she knows who her birth mother is, she doesn't have much interest in staying connected to Jackie: "I've moved on." On a happier note, though, she and Hazel have a great relationship, talk all the time, and are truly bonded. I wish the episode had ended there instead of with a dumb Tyler monologue about how he and Cate got cast on 16 and Pregnant for a reason: so that they could be on a second TV show, this time without having to share it with Farrah. Okay, that last part is made up, but it's probably accurate.