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…


Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?

Millennial News Feed

Quote of the Day: “My financial priority is getting a job and getting out of my parents’ house.” –Male, 20, WA

Virtual reality is poised to become an entertainment game-changer—could it revolutionize education as well? Google is pioneering Expeditions, a new “virtual field trip” program that reaches out to schools with lessons that integrate virtual reality viewers. Expensive VR headsets are not necessary since Google Cardboard is used, allowing a very new technology to be brought into classrooms at an early stage. (NYTimes)

Millennials are bringing their financial preferences to wedding planning. A survey from The Knot and PayPal found that 44% of couples wish they could make all their vendor payments via smartphone, and 42% were surprised their vendors did not accept electronic payments. They also want the “I do” day to be money-hassle-free: 70% think automated payments for remaining balances on the wedding day would be helpful. (MarketWatch)

Smartphones present a whole new set of social problems for Millennials—especially when they’re using them while drinking. New app Drunk Mode, targeting college kids, is designed to make phones safe to use while under the influence: select contacts are hidden for 12 hours to prevent dangerous drunk dialing, the “Find My Drunk” feature uses GPS to help users find drunk friends, and there are also tools for hailing safe rides and retracing intoxicated footsteps. (Springwise)

After years of magical, mystical creatures and dystopian horror stories ruling YA shelves, a new wave of novels are making more relatable narratives popular again. According to Scholastic, “realism is on the rise,” and books that feature the problems of real-world teens are the next big thing. Recent examples include 21 PromsHomeroom Diaries, and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which was also turned into a feature film. (Scholastic)

In 2014, designer Rebecca Minkoff opened her stores of the future, featuring digital fitting rooms with large, mirrored touch screen walls that allow visitors to browse the latest collections, runway shows, photos, and other brand content . Almost a year later, those tech dressing rooms are being credited with tripling expected clothing sales. Minkoff says, “Trying something on signifies intent, and the customer may not have been thinking about buying a dress, but they see it suggested on the screen and know to ask for it.” (Digiday)

Quote of the Day: “My biggest financial goal is Financial independence from my parents.” –Female, 22, MA

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies