‘Catfish’ Preview: Nev Schulman and Max Joseph Dish on Their New MTV Series, Online Dating Deception and Needing Therapy

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Imagine falling in love with someone you’ve never met in person. That’s the subject of  MTV’s newest series Catfish, based off the 2010 documentary film of the same name.

In the digital age, finding love online is not unusual. However, when these long-distance relationships fail to lead to face-to-face interactions, questions start to arise. Is this person really who they say they are? Will online chemistry translate to real-life attraction? Enter Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, who are helping unite these couples for the very first time.

“We mange expectations,” Schulman, the subject of the 2010 film, told Celebuzz. “We don’t want someone to go into a situation and think their life and their happiness depends on this reveal… We want people to come away from this experience the way I did: Whether they’re embarrassed or heartbroken, either way it’s an incredible learning experience. For me, it became a very positive event in my life.”

“We didn’t want a Jerry Springer ending,” added Joseph. “We didn’t want it to end with a train-wreck. The last two acts of the show are really about these two people meeting, sitting down in front of each other and really reconciling the differences or the deceit. It’s about getting to a place of mutual understanding.”

These two New York City natives don’t claim to have all of the answers, but Schulman hopes his own well-documented experience with a “catfish” — a person who uses a false online identity to pursue deceptive online romances — can help others when they finally meet their digital love in person.

When it came to finding the right individuals, MTV didn’t have to look very far. After Catfish’s theatrical release, hundreds of people from across the country reached out to Schulman for help with their own online dating woes.

“The response to the film was this very strange, unexpected, candid honesty,” said Schulman. “People were emailing me, Facebook messaging me , tweeting me… feeling, in many cases, for the first like they could tell somebody about their past, strange, embarrassing online relationship or their current situation. And they would we ask me for help.”

So Schulman went to his brother Henry, one of the filmmakers behind the documentary, and suggested they try to help some of these people. From there, cameraman Joseph became involved with the project — and Catfish: The TV Show was born.

“Our protagonist is very much in the driver’s seat, and we go at their speed,” said Joseph. “We always tell them we’re there to support them and to help them in whatever way they want us to. We’re at their disposal. If they want us to investigate, we’ll investigate. If they want us to talk to the other person in their stead, we’ll talk to the other person without them there. We’re their agents.”

With Joseph behind the camera, Schulman acts as the series’ host, talking the subject — and sometimes, the catfish — through  “long, heart-to-heart conversations.”

“Most times a host of a show is qualified by either the schooling they had or simply because they’re charismatic and attractive or they can speak well,” said Joseph. “In this case…”

“None of the above,” quipped Schulman.

“No! In this case, Nev is perfect because he’s been there,” said Joseph. “I’ve never had a crazy online relationship that’s left me vulnerable and embarrassed and humiliated. Because he’s been through it, there’s a level of credibility he has that no one else can have.”

The MTV duo also have plenty of experience when it comes to therapy.

“We’ve both had a lot of therapy, just being two kids growing up in New York,” joked Joseph. “ADHD,” added Schulman. “Yeah, and OCD,” said Joseph, pointing toward himself. “We have pretty much the whole alphabet covered,” said Schulman.

“My close friends have been calling me Dr. Nev,” he quipped. “Or Nev M.D.”

Catfish premieres Monday, November 12 at 11PM ET on MTV. Watch the series’ trailer below.

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