How to Get Cast on MTV’s ‘Catfish’

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While most reality series showcase cast members’ so-called “true selves,” MTV’s “Catfish: The TV Show” does quite the opposite. Each episode features a person who suspects that someone they met online may be lying about their true identity. Here, we share what goes into casting the hit reality show, including advice on how to weed out scammers for yourself.

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What is “Catfish” about?

This long-running reality series, created by brothers Nev and Ariel Schulman alongside Max Joseph, debuted in 2012. It was inspired by the Schulmans’ 2010 documentary of the same name (co-directed by Henry Joost), which followed Nev’s quest to discover the truth about a woman he met on the web. 

The film introduced the term “catfishing” into modern parlance, which describes the act of purposely tricking someone into believing that a fake online persona you created is a real person. Catfishers are motivated by everything from appearing more attractive than they are to scamming their victims out of money to outright harassment.

On the MTV series, the hosts embark on a mission to expose scammers, investigating the cases of people who have reached out to the show—be they victims or catfishers themselves. The team facilitates an in-person meeting between the potential scammer and the potentially scammed, ultimately revealing whether or not their interactions were the real deal.

Who are the hosts of “Catfish”?

Nev Schulman and Joseph co-hosted the first seven seasons until the latter stepped down in 2018 to pursue a filmmaking career. That same year, “Catfish” was temporarily suspended after Schulman faced sexual misconduct allegations. Production resumed after the investigation found the allegationsnot credible and without merit.” 

Schulman then worked alongside a rotating roster of co-presenters until 2020, when former Miss Teen USA Kamie Crawford assumed the role permanently—though there are still occasionally guest co-hosts.

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Who are the casting directors for “Catfish”?

The series has employed multiple CDs over the years, including Rebecca Rosichan (“Kim of Queens”), Keya Mason (“Forged in Fire”), Rachel Kroes (“Dream Home Makeover”), and Michael Esposito (“Dance Moms”). Blair Franklin, Nate Bryan, Kristen Rinella, Rachel Kroes, Frazer Yorke, and John-Patrick McLean assembled the cast for the show’s current season.

In 2018, Esposito and his team visited San Diego State University to scope out students involved in suspicious online romances. “We do read every application that comes across our desk, as crazy as that may sound,” he told the Daily Aztec. “This is a very fluid process, because we are casting all year round…. We wouldn’t be able to keep doing this show if there weren’t thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people who are in similar situations.” 

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How does the casting process work for “Catfish”?

Both catfishers and those who think they’re being catfished can apply via the show’s website. In 2014, Marshall Eisen, the then–MTV senior vice president of news and docs, told Vulture, “It’s often the catfish we hear from first, because they’re looking to unburden themselves. It’s not always the case, but it probably happens more than people realize.” 

You and the person you have a relationship with must be 18 or older to apply. In an interview on KANM, the student radio station at Texas A&M State University, Esposito said that the team receives “a lot of applicants under the age of 18; and although we would love to help them, there [are] certain rules and laws that prevent us from doing so. Other than that, anyone who feels that they would be a great fit for the show should apply.”

Producers keep the lines of communication open at all times, making sure that both parties are privy to the details of the investigation, and every party must sign an agreement to be filmed. Contrary to how the drama plays out onscreen, no one actually gets ambushed; even the catfishers are typically eager to participate.

“Lying is a very hard thing to do,” Eisen added. “It takes a lot of energy. Most of them feel relief saying, ‘Oh, I can end this.’ We never know 100% for sure if the catfish is going to go through with this, even if they commit to filming. That’s why there is a lot of tension in those scenes when we pull up for the visit—because we’re all waiting for the day when the catfish will not respond or change their mind. They’re real people, and they’re exposing themselves [and] making themselves vulnerable, and we’re never going to force them to do it.”

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Where can you find “Catfish” casting calls?

According to Deadline, “Catfish” has been renewed for a ninth season, which will premiere on Feb. 28. The series is currently casting with Backstage and is looking for “people who lead a double life online” and want to “break free from the chains of deception and build genuine connections based on honesty.”

According to the show’s website, “Nev and Kamie are searching for more online relationships, friendships, and business partners who have never met in person or seen each other on video chat.” Fill out this form if you’d like to be considered. 

For more reality casting calls, check out our listings here.

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What are the best ways to avoid getting catfished yourself?

Learn to notice the signs of a potential scam. Deception has become part of the dating landscape; but Schulman says that if you remain vigilant, you’ll be better equipped to detect suspicious behavior. 

“Obviously, you can get lied to or have a bad date,” the host told Fox News. “But the trouble is when you invest too much of yourself into a relationship where [you haven’t met] yet…. If people are going to online date, just know that if you’re talking to someone for maybe, I don’t know, a couple weeks, barring any strange circumstances like travel or work, [if] they can’t meet up with you…something is probably off. And that’s what you have to look out for.”

Use your common sense. Although the show’s subjects skew young, Schulman says that catfishing can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, middle-aged and elderly individuals are particularly susceptible to romance scams. That’s why he recommends trusting your gut. 

”I know it’s tough, because it’s so fun and exciting when you’re in these relationships and people are constantly talking to you and flattering you and flirting with you,” Schulman told Woman’s Day. “But if you haven’t seen any definitive proof that the person is real, whether that’s a video they’ve sent you or a picture of their ID—or best-case scenario is, obviously, a FaceTime with them—you should always be suspicious.

“I think a lot of people feel weird or creepy when I ask if they’ve done a search or investigated the person,” he added. “They’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to do that; I trust them. And if they found out that I didn’t believe them, I think that would hurt them….’ We just need to get to a point now where we realize [that] it’s your job, if you’re talking to somebody on the internet, to vet them and make sure they are who they say they are.”

Watch out for red flags. You might be in trouble if the person you’re talking to refuses to speak on the phone, chat via video, or send a video of themselves. The most important first step is scoping out their social media presence. If their following is small or nonexistent, that can be a sign that there’s something wrong—especially if they’re young.

“You’d expect someone in their 20s or 30s to have some kind of digital footprint, even if you just google them and they have a LinkedIn profile or a high school basketball team stat sheet,” Schulman told Business Insider. “It is your job, if you’re going to seriously pursue an internet relationship, to poke around and do a little research. You might not find anything, which might be good; or you might find something which isn’t good. But you should know going into a potential date.”

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