Why Catfish Matters

Season two of MTV docu-series Catfish: The TV Show debuted to 2.5 million viewers, and was the number one cable telecast of the day among viewers ages 12-34, a demo otherwise known as Millennials. The show is a hit, and signifies larger shifts in reality TV tastes and their entertainment desires. Here are some of the reasons that Catfish matters, and what it says about Millennial viewers.

 It puts the real back into reality.

It might seem ironic that realness is so big a part of a show about people who are on TV for telling lies, but one reason that Catfish matters is that it is telling the truth about real lives of real people. We talk a lot about authenticity and Millennials’ desire to know all the facts and be told the truth. Though reality TV has a genre name that implies it is all real all the time, Millennial viewers have gotten used to the fact that reality shows are staged, and that “unscripted” programs most likely have a staff of writers working behind the scenes. Catfish shows a shift in the genre, and a re-emphasis on the showcasing of real lives, real emotions, and real moments. If it ever came out that elements of Catfish were faked, there is a good chance that it would seriously damage or even end the show. Actual reality in this case is a vital part of what makes the show successful. Millennials want real, and Catfish serves it up in a way that few shows aimed at them in the past have done.

 It is anti-aspiration.

There are no makeovers here, and most likely not even a happy ending for the young people who participate. Watching Catfish is not about wanting what you see. When hosts Nev and Max pull up to the house of the catfish, they are usually visiting humble places, in small towns. The young people on the show are often unhappy with where they are and who…

 
 
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Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “I won’t buy an already-made costume to dress up in for Halloween because I am creating a punk sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon costume for comic con and I worked really hard on it, so I will wear it any chance I can.” –Female, 21, NY

The nostalgic details and music that filled Guardians of the Galaxy were a major part of making it the superhero movie that Millennials want right now, and they’re continuing to use that nostalgia now that the film is out of theaters. The movie’s soundtrack, Awesome Mix Vol. 1, is being released as a limited edition cassette tape this November, in time for Black Friday. The fact that cassette tapes are considered by many to be a dead technology won't likely stop young consumers looking for a retro-style piece of the movie. The album has already been released as a digital download, CD, and vinyl, and is already the tenth largest selling album of 2014 so far. (Billboard)

GoldieBlox has had impressive success as a toy startup focused on promoting engineering to young girls. Now the brand is expanding into digital products with their first (free) iOS app, GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine, and Bloxtown.com, a “digital playground” of interactive games. The app teaches about animation and allows young users to create GIFs that they can then use in a physical construction set they have built themselves. (PSFK)

Some of Vine’s biggest stars are coming to TV. Rainn Wilson, of The Office and SoulPancake fame, is working on a scripted comedy that will follow five of the app’s most popular Viners ”as they try to break into Hollywood.” The show, appropriately named Hollywood and Vine, will be the first traditional TV show to have a cast of mostly Vine stars, but could benefit from their online fans: the digital stars chosen have a collective following of over 30 million. (The Verge)

Breaking Bad was a story of meth and murder that was hugely appealing to older Millennial audiences, so some parents are objecting strongly to dolls of the main characters of the show being on the shelves at Toys “R” Us. A petition to take the Walter and Jesse action figures out of the chain and moved to “an appropriate store” was started online by one Florida mom and already has over 7,000 signatures. One of the figures comes with “a sack of cash, and a bag of blue crystals”—a.k.a. toy meth—so we can kind of understand the concern. (Racked)

Can Elsa and Anna help get kids to eat healthy? Previous studies have found that labeling fruits and vegetables with cartoons makes them significantly more appealing to children, and Disney-branded produce sales have reportedly tripled in the last two years. Bags of apples with Frozen and Spider-Man characters are being released this month as a continuation of the effort to get families to live healthier lifestyles. (Brand Channel)

Did you know every month, Ypulse surveys our Millennial panel of over 60,000, asking 1,000 14-32-year-olds about current events, seasonal trends, changing attitudes, and new norms? The results of these bi-weekly survey results are delivered to our Gold subscribers on Ypulse as downloadable tables, with data broken out by age, gender, ethnicity, location, and education. (Ypulse)

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