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 complete financial independence from parents and any others, and a very satisfying career that I enjoy (a high salary would be a plus, but not essential).” –Male, 25, PA

The pickup game could become a thing of the past. According to ESPN, playground basketball as we’ve known it is dying. Crime has pushed many urban kids off of outdoor sports spaces to indoor courts that can be controlled. Meanwhile, high school players who want a future in the sport are turning to organized leagues like the Amateur Athletic Union over yard games where “street cred” ruled over building skills to showcase for schools. (ESPN)

Let wants to be the “ultimate, coolest” social network for teens. The app was built on the concept that “Facebook is not for teenagers anymore” and that they are looking for a more positive, gamified experience. Let creates leaderboards to show the members who have amassed the most stars, the equivalent of a Like, and has recently gained members—reportedly doubling in size every two weeks—thanks to YouTube stars like Jake Boys joining and “bringing their followings with them.” (TechCrunch)

Are Millennial marriages in beta? A lot has been said about the generation’s delayed walk down the aisle and their rearrangement of traditional adult milestones. Now, a new study has found that even after they’ve walked down the aisle it might just be to test the waters: 43% of Millennials “would support a marriage model that involved a two-year trial,” and 33% would be open to licenses that require the “terms” to be renegotiated after a certain amount of time.  (Time)

Young consumers have made music streaming their clear preference, and it is currently the only area in the recorded music industry experiencing growth. Apps like Spotify, Pandora, and iHeart Radio are competing for their attention, and their loyalty. But an epic streaming battle could be about to begin: tech titans like Apple, Google, and Amazon are acquiring their own streaming tools in order to control the future of the music market. (Quartz)

Some are dubious as to whether social apps can create real media stars, but it can’t be denied that for young artists today the path to fame has diversified, and online followings can impact careers. Case in point: 15-year-old Vine star Shawn Mendes’ self-titled EP hit No. 1 on iTunes only 37 minutes after its release, thanks in part to his 2.9 million followers spreading a #ShawnToNumber1 hashtag. (Mashable)

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

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