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: “My dream for the future is to become an entrepreneur so I can become my own boss. I also want to become successful to help other people who are in need.” – Female, 23, CA

Seven years after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter is the best-selling book series in history; but it also shaped a generation of children who read it. Millennials—known for their technology reliance—fell in love with these books “about love conquering hate,” waited for their release, grew up with the characters, and found within the books a unifying culture that has lasted far beyond the publishing of the last book. As we’ve said previously, the optimistic story about a unique, special boy destined for great things resonated with Millennials in a time when they too believed they were special and had great expectations for their futures. (BoingBoing)

Millennials are not rushing to tee off, and golf is “suffering from a generation gap.” Over the last five years, participation in the sport has fallen steadily, and the participation rates of 18-34-year-olds dropped 13% from 2009 to 2013, while their rates in other sports has risen significantly. The slow rate of games, the expense, and likely the pretense surrounding golf, could all be contributing to the gap. (WSJ)

An anonymous, adult, toy reviewer is one of YouTube’s biggest stars. DisneyCollectorBR posts videos of toy “unboxings,” watched by millions. Her most watched video is an unwrapping of “egg surprise” trinkets to show what is inside—it has over 90 million views. Apparently, the simple videos of a toy being opened and played with by adult hands are “entrancing” kids, who watch one after another. There is close to no information about the person behind the account online. (BuzzFeed)

Millennial parents continue to be given tools that facilitate their kids’ hyper-monitered childhoods. MamaBear is an “all-in-one worry-free” parenting/monitoring app that recently raised $1.4 million. Through the app, parents can be alerted to where children are, what they’re saying on social media, what photos they’re being tagged in, and even monitors when teen users are speeding. (TechCrunch)

The obesity epidemic has been blamed on many things, from fast food to technology replacing outside play. But one result of the health problem could also be making it tough to conquer: a lot of children who are obese or overweight don’t know it. A recent study found that 76% of kids ages 8-15 who are designated by the CDC as overweight thought they were “about right.” Boys and children from poorer families were more likely to “misperceive” their weight. (NPR)

Quote of the Day: “I unplugged from Facebook and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is such a time suck. I have other online sites that I can browse to relieve stress or take a break from work without having to see what some random kid in high school is eating for breakfast.” —Female, 23, PA

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