Artist of the Week: ‘Cathfish: The TV Show’ creator Nev Schulman adapts to COVID-19

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Ali Smith, roundtable editor

The world of online dating and friendships was changed forever by the release of the 2010 documentary “Catfish.”
This documentary film was produced by Yaniv “Nev” Schulman, who was also the subject of the film, as his online romance with a young beautiful woman turned out to be a string of lies, resulting in heartbreak for young Schulman.
From this experience, Schulman has launched an MTV series “Catfish: The TV Show” to help others meet the person behind their online romances. Schulman is the host of the show as well as the executive producer.
From the show’s start, it was clear that the kinds of relationships displayed on the show reflected the diversity of sexualities and gender identities that exist in the world. By aiding individuals of all identities in their romantic pursuits, Schulman and his array of hosts have helped advocate for these minorities and their human right to love whoever they love.
More recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, producing the TV show has been more of a challenge, as Schulman and co-host Kamie Krawford have respected COVID-19 guidelines and continued their show via Zoom.
On one of the most recent episodes of “Catfish: The TV Show” Season 8 Episode 21 titled “Jay & Anna,” Jay was catfished by a male pretending to be Anna, who claimed he had no romantic feelings for Jay despite months of romantic messaging.
The Catfish was having a difficult time revealing why he had chosen to converse for months in this way with the incomplete quadripeligic, Jay, so Schulman decided to open up about something that is not typically outwardly discussed by cis straight males. He did this in order to make the Catfish more comfortable opening up about his true intentions behind the online relationship.
“I know that while I am fully straight when it comes to being physically attracted to only women, I like to flirt and sometimes if a guy wants to flirt with me, I’ll flirt with a guy! It’s fun to flirt! I’m OK to admit that,” Schulman said on the episode.
This was a transformative statement made by Schulman, as he was openly able to admit something that is so rare for straight people to talk about.
Not only has Schulman helped people find out the truth behind their online relationships through the mode of the show, he has also advocated for all kinds of people since the show’s airing, as displayed in the “Jay & Anna episode.”
As a producer and a TV host, it is one thing to conduct and air an effective, entertaining show.
It is another to go above and beyond and show support and open conversations about topics that have been considered taboo for far too long.
For this, Schulman, as an artist, is one of a kind and deserves praise for his commendable performance and production.
In Schulman’s book, “Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age,” he leaves the world with an important thought: “This is a symptom of our culture’s obsession with appearance; our confusion about what beauty is and how we should feel about our bodies; and our compulsion to compare ourselves to the people we see on TV and on social media. Beauty is internal — related to energy and confidence — but we rarely remember this.”
Schulman truly aims to use this human flaw for good, as many who are struggling with sexual identity and other issues can look to the show and toward Schulman to see a reflection of the real world on television, which is so rare.
He has opened so many doors and minds in this process, and for this he is one of the greatest producers of our era.