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'm trying to save roughly $5,000 to buy a vehicle. It will take me another 6 months or so.” –Male, 16, NC

The year started with a report that teens are leaving Facebook, and it’s ending the same way. A report this week showed that 88% of 13-17-year-olds were using the network in 2014, a drop from 94% in 2013. We’ve looked at the reasons that teens just aren’t as interested in Facebook before, and Ypulse’s latest social media tracker survey actually showed that currently only 63% of 13-17-year-olds say they use Facebook. (Mashable)

Millennial tastes are shaping the future of fast food, and majorly impacting longstanding brands. But what chains are keeping them happy now? YouGov BrandIndex ranked the restaurant chains that 18-33-year-olds would consider going to again to gauge their current brand loyalty. Gourmet sandwich chain Jimmy John’s topped the list, with 83% saying they would return. Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Whataburger, and Subway made up the rest of the top five, in that order. (Business Insider)

Video sharing competition is heating up. Former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar has launched Vessel, his new subscription video service, which has been predicted to be a YouTube competitor. To entice creators to post content, they’re being offered $50 for every thousand views in the first three days they are posted, ifthey are only posted on Vessel. After a “72-hour exclusive window” the content can be shared on other sites. Currently Vessel is only open to creators, and a consumer launch “is pending.” (StreamDaily)

Kids are often shielded from adult content, usually because it is deemed too violent. But in reality, their bright cartoons might feature more carnage than grown-up fare. A recent study looked at the biggest children’s and adult movie hits in the same year and found that “two thirds of the 45 highest grossing children’s animated films feature an onscreen death of a major character” compared to half of the top “non-kid” films. “Death and destruction” are just a regular part of your average animated classic. (NYMag)

‘Tis the season for gift swaps, including the sinister favorite White Elephant—also known as Yankee Swap and Nasty Christmas. Old Navy is featuring the game in their holiday Vine campaign. Each day a video reveals gifts, from a high-end trip to a pogo stick, that will be given out, and every person who re-Vines or likes the clips is entered to win. The brand has also tapped 12 popular Viners to create their own clips in which they steal a previously opened gift or stay with the gift of the day. (Old Navy)

That image at the bottom of our newsletter is a gateway to insights and expert commentary on current and future Millennial trends. Clicking on it takes readers to our daily insights article, available to Silver and Gold tier subscribers, which illuminates a facet of Millennial culture and helps subscribers to understand the "why" behind the "what." Drawing from our ongoing collection of proprietary data, our deep-dive desk research, and our 10-year history of studying this generation, we figure out what it all means for brands and marketers. (Ypulse)

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