The other night, MTV’s Catfish aired a midseason reunion show, taking us on a stroll down betrayal memory lane. So many people publicly shamed by the revelation that their unseen online soul mate was screwing with them, all in one place! Seeing these stories (and their predominantly unhappy endings) bunched together revealed a simple taxonomy of Catfishers. So, for all those of you who are in the midst of fantasizing about a lifetime of happiness with your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. True Loves, here are the eight ways they can turn out to be: Consider these possibilities before needing it to be pointed out to you on TV, and then having the humiliation replayed on episode repeats and a reunion show.
1. Opposite gender This one’s simple: You think you’re dating a person of the gender to which your romantic preference leans, but that’s not the case. For example, puppy-eyed Tyler was pretty devastated when he realized he’d sent a dick pic to a gay man and not the pretty blonde “Amanda Miller” with whom he thought he was chatting. “There’s always that chance that he’s a guy,” Tyler’s BFFs unknowingly predicted before the episode’s reveal. The show’s very first episode featured Sunny, a southern gal who fell in love with a model named “Jamison” … who turned out to actually be a girl named Chelsea. Not that this always prevents a happy ending: Tattooed Kya and “Alyx” (or, as it was discovered, Dani) remained a couple after meeting on VampireFreaks.com and then in real life — even though Alyx turned out to be female-to-male transgender. Good thing Kya didn’t really care: “That’s okay. I’ve been attracted to women before. … It doesn’t matter. I love this person, and that’s all that I care about.”
2. Revenge seeker Used to be that people got revenge for themselves or their friends by egging their enemy’s house. And then came the Internet, which made it possible to basically egg someone’s heart. It’s the harshest of long cons: Slowly build up an intimacy online by pretending to be a suitor, and then ultimately destroy the lovestruck by revealing your lie. Perhaps Catfish’s most physically confrontational moment came in the fourth episode of season one, when it was discovered that Jasmine’s online boyfriend of over two years, “Mike,” was actually her ex’s ex, Mhissy, who wasn’t ever clear on just why she thought Jasmine deserved this. The reveal was expectedly not-so-friendly, even making our list of the year’s top reality show freak-outs.
3. Right gender, wrong face This is by far the most likely outcome, with often the cruelest ending: Sometimes, after it is revealed that the Catfish had been sending pictures of someone else, the pictorial fabulist’s online love will want to stay friends, and more often they’ll flip out — but there’s rarely a romance. “Trina the Natural” thought “Scorpio” was a young stripper like her, but he was actually a 32-year-old with four kids (and no six-pack). Jarrod thought “Abby Johnson” was a cute blond (aren’t they all!) but she was Melissa, a bespeckled brunette with low self-esteem. And Dorion even put his actual girlfriend aside to pursue the model “Jeszica”, a vampy model he met through Facebook who turned to be a normal-looking girl named Alexis. These leave the viewer feeling saddest for the liar, seeing how someone’s low self-esteem can lead them to submitting fake photos that will inevitably backfire. It’s like watching a teen movie where the outcast removes her geeky glasses and the jock falls in love with her…but in reverse.
4. Right picture, wrong bio No one is actually a model, so when your Catfish turns out to be attractive but not as successful, does it really matter? “Ja’mari” (or James!) claimed to be a successful model, but was actually a bus driver. But Rico found him to be just as adorable as his pictures showed, and the two decided to try to make it work.
5. One of your friends, who means well Rose had feelings for her good friend Joe, but instead of professing her love, she instead Catfished him by playing “Kari Ann” — using the identity of Miss Teen USA Kari Ann Peniche. When Joe discovered that he had been Catfished by the person he thought was his best friend, there was no movie script ending, just the end of a friendship. Sometimes protecting a friend from being self-destructive goes way too far: Cassie’s BFF Gladys Catfished her to make her happy so that she wouldn’t go out and find trouble elsewhere. When Cassie discovered her online fiancé “Steven” was actually Gladys, she was devastated and when the episode ended, it was still going to take time for the two to repair their broken friendship.
6. Pickup Artists using the web as their Crossfit gym PUAs, if you want to work on your moves, try an OKCupid profile. One of the only times that the perpetually upbeat Nev got truly heated was when he helped Jen discover that “Skylar” (the boy she met through an online game, and had been chatting with for months) was really an asshole named Bryan who was using the game to meet girls and work on his game.
7. Catfished is also the Catfish What happens when both people lie so shamelessly that they both become the Catfish? Read closely, because this is confusing. Rod was talking to a girl named Ebony, whom he met on a website for gays and bisexuals. And although Rod claimed to not be gay and not interested in guys, he didn’t mind because Ebony claimed to be transgender. It all really didn’t matter, though: Throughout their four-year relationship, Rod had been using pictures of his cousin and calling himself “KJ,” just as Ebony (who was using her own photos and name) wasn’t actually transgender. To make matters more complicated, Nev and Max discover that Ebony had been sending Rod money while he was unemployed, which is why he continued the relationship. Unsurprisingly, Rod didn’t seem too upset about the revelation, though Ebony was. It didn’t work out.
8. They are exactly who they claim to be We all dreamed the day would come when Catfish and Catfishee would meet and reveal that there were no lies, just true love. This particular breed of Catfish proved to be the most elusive, until finally, in season two, Lauren, the single mom from Texas, met Derek from Maryland, the boy she met eight years before on MySpace, and they found each other to be, well, accurately each other. And it was boring and should never happen again.