Anyone involved in a years-long Catfish situation — being duped by an online romance where the person on the other end isn’t who they claim to be — has to employ a significant amount of delusion to stay invested for as long as they often do. No amount of evidence can deter those involved, so heavily tinted are their rose-colored glasses. But last night’s (August 17) Catfish hopeful exhibited an alarming amount of denial, unmatched by any of the show’s previous victims.
The episode begins with catfishee Spencer, who tells hosts Max Joseph and Nev Schulman, “This is gonna be your best episode ever.”
Well, sure, that’s what every single self-involved person who agrees to appear on a reality TV show probably thinks about their own episode. But then: “I’ve been talking to a pop star goddess for six years.” Max, Nev and all the show’s producers instantly perk up.
Spencer, who describes himself via email as a “typical guy,” claims he’s been in a six-year relationship with Katy Perry, one that began on a messaging site the real Katy would probably never use.
When pressed for proof, Spencer offers the following: Katy — who fessed up to being the Teenage Dream singer immediately upon meeting Spencer — relayed to him “millions and millions of details…little stories that only Katy would know.” This would be acceptable if Spencer had some kind of real-life past with Katy and could personally confirm her stories. But he, like Fake Katy, verified this super secret information that only the pop star could know…via Google. Spencer fails to see the irony in any of this.
The story grows muddled from there — the two conversed for six years, speaking on the phone a single time. Katy provided Spencer with a Canadian phone number, which set off zero alarm bells despite the fact that Katy is from California, which is in the United States. This episode offers further proof that when you want to believe something badly enough, any narrative can be invented inside your own brain to fit your ideal.
“Is she not like… with someone else now…” asks a confused and perpetually skeptical Max.
“I think it’s that elf from the Lord of the Rings,” Spencer responds, refusing to invoke the name of Katy’s nude paddler boyfriend Orlando Bloom.
Katy eventually pulled the plug on their epic romance, but Spencer is unclear on why. They were in it deep, he claims, totally in love. He even fitted a diamond band with his great grandmother’s emerald stone, creating an engagement ring he will likely never give to anyone ever.
Spencer says Katy claimed she sent him an email explaining her sudden absence, but he told her he never got it, and Katy never resent it. None of this makes any modicum of sense.
Max, unsurprisingly, is doubtful that Spencer has been embroiled in an online romance with megastar divorcee Katy Perry. But the real surprise here is that even Nev ditches his own onscreen character — ever the encouraging optimist! — and refuses to entertain the possibility of “maybe,” too.
Nev — who generally douses himself in a bogus air of false optimism, always holding out hope for the Catfish-ed that perhaps true love really is a broken webcam away — straight-up decimates Spencer’s story, pointing out just how ludicrous his claims are.
“That’s a wild claim to be making,” Nev says, not even attempting to conceal his glee over the press this story will get. “It’s probably one of the most ridiculous things we’ve ever heard.”
But Spencer, somehow unable to see how outlandish his claim is, never wavers in his belief. He hasn’t told anyone he knows that he is dating Katy Perry, which is perhaps some indication of his own brain’s subconscious awareness that he is more gullible than a Larry Stylinson conspiracy theorist.
After some light cyber sleuthing (Max and Nev are amateur Internet stalkers who rely entirely on Spokeo and Google’s reverse image search), the hosts find some compelling evidence to suggest Katy is actually a UK resident named Harriet — a Lady Gaga/Katy Perry stan whose online profile includes the phrase, “Meow meow bitch.”
Meow meow bitch.
— Max Joseph (@maxjoseph) August 18, 2016
Then, realizing his visage will permanently appear in this episode of Catfish, he offers some hollow words of support that he likely doesn’t mean.
Off to England they go, Spencer remaining firmly planted in his misguided beliefs that he’s about to meet Katy Perry, the love of his life.
“I’ve gone back and listened to some of her songs in her last album — all of them have little bits that are clues to me,” he told the MTV hosts before departure. “It was up to me to figure it out, but I’ve figured it out. I am fully, 100% confident it’s her.”
And Spencer is! Even after meeting Harriet and hearing her admit she’d orchestrated the entire thing, Spencer refuses the truth. He chooses to believe, instead, that Katy has set up a hilarious long con and hired Harriet as part of her ruse. Such a trickster, that superstar Katy!
Eventually, Max and Nev force Spencer to admit he had never, ever been in contact with the “Firework” singer. And while there appears to be a brief breakthrough — he and Harriet sit down and speak in private but on camera about their online exchanges — it doesn’t last long.
It’s difficult enough to let go of an actual relationship with a real human being whose flaws and annoying idiosyncrasies become obvious to you over time, contributing to the breakup. It must be only that much harder to part ways with an ideal you’ve built up in your head long enough to manifest as something near-palpable. Spencer’s dream life combusted in a devastating way, and he’s still holding onto its blackened remains.
But he takes things next-level, having seemingly relapsed into denial long after the episode wrapped.
When Max and Nev check in with Harriet two months later, she tells them Spencer sent her a few emails after he arrived home, explaining his visit to England where he met a girl named Harriet purporting to be Katy — as though he were still speaking to the “I Kissed A Girl” singer.
After being confronted by the hosts, Spencer claims he only reached out again for the sake of further clarity (???). He says he realizes now, at long last, that he’d never been in contact with Katy Perry. It is impossible to believe him at this point, but here’s hoping!
Head over to MTV to check out Spencer’s episode of Catfish, and see prime delusion hard at work.
by Ali Szubiak