HAPPY CATFISH DAY! Nev starts this episode by informing us that in 1987 Ronald Reagan declared June 25, National Catfish Day; Nev is observing it by going Catfishing…online. Nev starts reading an email from Tyler Hayden is from the greater area of Flint, Michigan and he’s been talking to Amanda Miller for 2 years online. She is absolutely beautiful! She has blonde hair, blue eyes and a very nice tan. (If this is Amanda, Tyler is not out of her league, he’s a really good looking guy!) She goes to college in Kalamazoo, Mi. The problem is, she lives on other side of state. He wants to meet her but he hasn’t even talked to her yet, he can’t because she doesn’t have a cellphone. He’s never even seen her “live” because her webcam is always broken. Tyler wants Nev to help him find if Amanda is all she says she is.
Both Nev & Max (whom I consider the unsung hero of Catfish) are perplexed and they don’t believe she doesn’t have a cellphone. Max calls it at beginning & says, “It’s a clear lie.” Max humorously adds, “Saying you don’t have cellphone is like saying you don’t wear pants.” Nev webchats with Tyler who is an All-American kid, he played Lacrosse in High School, is super good looking, and surprisingly, he has a great personality. Both guys are curious as to what it is about online girls that attracts people.
They fly to Michigan and are driving to Max’s house. They stop at a campground in Holly, MI. to see if they have any cabins; the guys are in luck & they sleep in small cabin with bunkbeds. Max tells Nev he believes Nev & Tyler will discover they’re kindred spirits; their situations and stories are very similar. They drive to Tyler’s and are immediately greeted by his adorable dog, Springer – who I’m assuming is a Springer Spaniel. Tyler’s an attractive young man; the guy seriously looks like he could be a football player. As they’re talking & walking on Tyler’s property (it’s huge) Nev picks up a very cool metal placard he finds in firepit, ironically it has a heart burned in it. (see photo above) Nev prophetically says, “This is a sign: either you’re going to get burned, your hearts gonna get singed or somehow we’re here because of true love.”
Nev tells Tyler theyre curious why hes so interested in Amanda when there’s lots of beautiful girls in area, they saw lots of girls on his Facebook, and Tyler could probably date anyone he wanted to. Tyler says theyre immature, he doesnt like girls that play headgames. Max (good ol Max! LOL) says, “You don’t like girls that play headgames so you go for one and a half years with a girl online?” The bottom line for Tyler is what if she is actually real? The 3 guys are looking at Tyler’s Facebook conversations with Amanda when they come across a very sexually graphic comment; Tyler is clearly embarrassed. The camera immediately shows Springer staring at him with a look of shock on his face… of course, the timing is totally coincidental, but really cute. Tyler says he’s sent her graphic pictures, too, and says as long as your face isn’t it you can deny it’s you. Tyler explains to Nev & Max that when Amanda was in college she had a cellphone, but she and her dad had a falling out and now she had no way to pay for one. He shows them their conversations on his cellphone and she talks to him via Yahoo.
Tyler invites them to go fishing with him & his friends, Tyler & Tucker. Nev & Max accept, they’re hoping to get more information from his friends. Tyler and his buddies show Nev how to fish. One of his friends has caught a fish & kisses it. (ewww) Ironically, Nev catches a big catfish. Nev’s talking with Taylor and he says Tyler puts on a front regarding how much he cares about Amanda, which is exactly what Nev & Max suspected. His friend Tucker says Tyler’s a good guy but he’s suspicious because she avoids phone. Taylor chimes in & says there’s always a chance it’s a guy. Nev asks his friends if Tyler will bust his chops if it’s a guy-both laugh & say if its a guy they’ll never let him forget it, but they both hope she’s real. You can tell these Tyler, Tucker and Taylor are good lifelong buddies.
Nev and Max are driving saying something doesn’t feel right. (ya think?) Back at the cabin, while looking through Amanda’s Facebook, the guys notice somewhat provocative comments to guys and guys flirting back; they note none indicate they’ve ever met her. Nev sends a message to 1 of the Facebook guys, Mikhail, he also sends the same message to Brendon, another Facebook friend of hers. Within minutes, Mikhail phone and says he knows Amanda, but he’s never met her or talked to her on the phone. He describes their private comments & says she’s made sexual comments. Nev asks, “Risque?” Mikhail replies with an affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Brendon calls Nev and basically says the exact same thing Mikhail said. (oh, these men!) Max calls it like it is and says “This is a classic maneater.” Nev replies, “This girl is leaving a wake of a trail of guys just drooling and picking up crumbs and scraps.” Again, Max doesn’t mince words and says, “She’s a Catfish!”
Nev runs Amanda’s picture on Google Image search & gets a hit for a girl named Trina on MySpace, taken in 2007… they say MySpace is the archives for fake I.D.s. Every single one of Amanda’s photos are on Trina’s MySpace account. Max says that MySpace is the “treasure trove” of Facebook’s Catfish. Nev feels confident Amanda isn’t who she claims to be. They go to Tyler’s & tell him about the Google search, they ask if he still wants to go ahead with this? He does.
Nev contacts Amanda via Facebook, he mentions Tyler and she says he’s her favorite. Amanda writes, “I do like him & consider him my friend & so many times in life I just let guys down, even after 2 years I feel like everything will be ruined.” Both guys agree she’s being very coy. Nev decides to make her feel comfortable & whatever it is won’t be that bad, their friendship will remain.
They’re excited and Tyler’s surprised that shes in Attica, it’s so close to where he lives. I think Nev is trying to prepare Tyler for the worst, but without telling him so. Nev tells Tyler this is scary for Amanda and he’s really trying to emphasize that point across. Once they’re in the car, Tyler looks at the GPS, it says Attica is 30 minutes away, as they’re driving Tyler says, “Maybe she’s some super sexy farmers daughters.” He says he’s going there with an open mind; Nev pats him on the back. They arrive at Amanda’s and walk up a long gravel driveway, then up to front door. Suddenly, they hear something coming from the side- where the garage is, and hear a “Hi.” It’s a an African-American male in his early 20s. He goes to Tyler and says, “I’m Aaron, also known as Amanda Miller. First, I need to apologize to you.” Aaron smiles and has somewhat of a nervous laugh. Tyler looks absolutely shell-shocked. Nev introduces himself, Max and the crew. (I cannot believe the restraint and composure Tyler is showing here. Perhaps Aaron’s saving grace is that there are cameras everywhere, so if Tyler hit him, it would be taped.)
Aaron says he’s been doing this for 6-7 years and was going to college in K’mazoo but got kicked out for talking to his R.A. on Facebook as Amanda. Nev asks how he feels now, meeting Tyler. Aaron says its weird/awkward but nice to say “hi” to Tyler. Tyler says he’s shocked & Aaron says “Really??” with a sheepishly nervous grin on his face. Tyler says “yeah.” (It’s here, when Aaron said “really??” that I feel my blood pressure rising & realize my fists are clenched. What did you expect, Aaron? You’ve fucked with Tyler’s mind & heart for almost 2 years – why on earth would he NOT be surprised??) Tyler says you hear about stories like this, but I never thought I’d be involved in one; I’m the sucker. (Unfortunately, in a way, Tyler is right. Online relationshps are risky, add to that it’s been over 1 1/2 years, you haven’t talked to, or actually seen the person…those are HUGE red flags. I’m sure Tyler knows that now. But my heart is absolutely breaking for him)
Nev asks Aaron how many guys he’s been talking to. Aarons says recently he’s stopped (He’s lying! Remember earlier when Nev talked to both Mikhail & Brendon?) because he started to really like Tyler, but over all the years? Aaron says probably over 100. (I wonder how many guys are realizing they got duped) He’s had 3 accounts over the years. Max asks what it feels like to be Amanda, Aaron says it just feels better than being himself. He lives in a small rural town and people had a problem with him being gay, thats when he went to Amanda. As Amanda, he could be himself just with a female picture & guys liked him. Max asks if he’d rather be gay & himself or a straight female, he says a straight female. Sadly, Aaron says, “I don’t want to be gay, to be honest, but thats something you cant changed & I finally accepted that awhile ago.” (I can totally relate with this part because my sister went through the same thing) He still wants to still be Tyler’s friend. but Tyler says, “I wouldn’t be friends with Amanda anymore.” Nev says it’s time for them to go, maybe do some thinking, process everything. They all say good-bye and the 3 guys leave.
It’s a quiet ride home. Tyler says he’s gonna get so much shit from his friends, they told him its gonna be a man. Nev and Max are at the campground & decide to go swimming (Nev? If you read this, please consider manscaping.) In the cabin, Nev notices on his Twitter account Aaron started following him before they met. Aaron tweeted, ”Today I get to meet somebody I’ve loved so much to talk to the past 2 years. I have been 2 people, today I have become 1.” (This gives me hope that something good will come out of this cruel situation)
Nev’s at Tyler’s and says he noticed he “unfriended” Amanda. He tells Tyler they’re going to talk to Aaron & would he like to go? Tyler says okay. Aaron has 2 female friends with him: Becca & Taylor. They’ve known him since high school and knew he made fake profiles. Becca says its harmless, he doesn’t mean to hurt anyone. (Uh, Becca, did you just fall off of a turnip truck?) Tyler brilliantly says, “A harmless lie is saying back in high school I scored 30 points, when you only scored 5.” (You tell em, Tyler!!) Tyler tells Aaron he’s taking all his lies are over 6-7 years as a joke, he’s living this as a joke. Taylor asks if he messed with people’s lives? (So far, Aaron’s friends Becca & Taylor are batting 0 for 2) Aaron said, “No, no one’s lives got messed up. I don’t think so.” (GOOD GAWD, hold me back!! I think this might just be the big one! Is he absolutely out of his MIND?) He looks at Tyler and asks (brace yourselves, trust me here) “Did your life get messed up?” with his nervous grin. (My ears MUST be bleeding cuz I swear I heard him ask Tyler if his life got messed up. NOW I see why he’s friends with Curly and Moe! Folks, we have found the “true” Three Stooges!) Tyler points out Aaron got kicked out of school, so his life got messed up. (Once again, Tyler impresses me with his ability to empathize with Aaron’s situation, when Tyler is the true victim here.) The girls are surprised he has so much he didn’t tell them. (Here’s some hints, Curly and Moe: See all those cameras around you? See the 2 guys that are film producers? See Tyler sitting right across from you? They aren’t there cuz any of you have won an I.Q. test – they’re all there because your BFF IS A LIAR!)
Nev talks alone with Aaron. (I’ve got to applaud Nev here, how he does this every episode is beyond me. I’ve gotten to where it’s becoming more & more difficult to empathize with these Catfish. Somehow, Nev has a knack for this. Great composure, Nev!) Aaron says knows he needs to change and find new people, and get help. (AMEN to that!) He’s upset because he’s lied to parents, grandparents, friends, and guys online. He’d like to move where being gay is more acceptable. (I totally agree Aaron, you need to be able to be your true self) Aaron says he’ll manipulate someone into liking him, Nev very soberly adds, “But you don’t even like you,” and Aaron admits, no, he doesn’t. Nev encourages him, tells him that he’s creative (he must be) and Nev thinks a lot of people would like to hear his voice. (I concur!)
Once again in the living room, Tyler feels Aaron took everything lightly, the only thing he knows for sure is that Aaron’s a compulsive pathological liar; Tyler doesn’t have room for that in his life. Aaron apologizes and Tyler accepts. Aaron & Tyler walk outside with Nev, Max, Becca and Taylor. There’s a turtle walking and Nev says, “Aaron, maybe that’s your spirit animal. It represents you coming out of your shell, it might be slow going, but slow & steady.”
Poooor Tyler has to face the music with his friends and… he’s gonna eat a little crow. He tells them it was an African-American gay man, his friends laugh & the 1 takes pride because he called it from the beginning! His other friend asks how far he went on their first date. I have a feeling Tyler is gonna be just fine…
One month later: Tyler is single and going to college. He’s not talking to anyone online. (Tyler, the right girl will come into your life at the right time. Patience, grasshopper)
Aaron moved to N.Y.C., he’s actually going to start dating. He’s staying offline for now. (I’m so happy for you, Aaron. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to not be accepted for who you truly are. Surround yourself with friends and just do you; I think you owe that to yourself. Best wishes)
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