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 am planning to give an iPhone 6s as a gift for this Valentine’s Day.”

—Male, 31, NY

Almost 2/3 of Millennials block ads online, according to one report, and MediaPost recently spoke to young media consumers to find out why. One 19-year-old wishes for digital ads “that [are] barely noticeable,” and suggests to marketers to “stop any ads that hinder the speed and ease of your browsing.” Another 25-year-old tries to support web sites whose livelihood depends on ad revenue by being “more cognizant of which sites are showing me ads to be obtrusive versus showing me ads to support a valuable, but free, service.” (MediaPost)

2016 started strong for Millennials. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in January, the unemployment rate fell to an eight-year low (4.9%), and it was the second best job growth month ever for 25-34-year-olds, with 429,000 jobs added for this group between December 2015 and January 2016. That’s the highest employment growth since January 2000, when the tech bubble was at its peak and 1.166 million jobs were added. This is a positive sign for the generation, who has been severely impacted by the financial crisis.
(Business Insider

Love is in the air and Millennials are pulling out their wallets. A recent study on finance and relationships revealed that 18-34-year-olds are planning to spend an average $290 on Valentine’s Day activities—almost $100 more than older respondents. Millennial men are planning to spend the most, an average of $371. Ypulse’s Valentine’s Day survey found that the 71% of males 13-33-years-old are buying gifts for significant others/spouses, and mom is second on their list. (NerdWallet

Playboy has put some clothes on to attract Millennials. The brand’s makeover includes more tasteful photos and short-form articles, changes meant to improve sales after years of losing “cultural cachet.” Though the internet, and the wide availability of nudity it offers, certainly hurt Playboy’s bottom line, it also may have inspired their demure new approach. A 2014 redesign to make their website “more PG-13” led to a 258% increase in traffic, and lowered readers’ average age from 47 to 30. With most web traffic stemming from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it also makes sense to “play by those networks’ rules”—which means no nudity allowed. (New York Post

Taco Bell’s $5 million secret is out after their big reveal duringthis Sunday’s Super Bowl introduced the world to the quesalupa, “a crunchy quesadilla folded and filled with taco ingredients.” Sound like something you’d want to order? If the answer’s no, it might be because they didn’t make it for you—they’re targeting the next generation. According to the head of the brand’s Insights Lab: “We study gen Z not just because we want to target them, but because we want to get ahead in culture and we want to predict what's going to happen. And also because youth is what our brand DNA is about." (Eater

Quote of the Day: “The issue I am most passionate about is LGBTQ, because in the words of Dr. Seuss ‘A person is a person, no matter how small.’” –Female, 18, KY

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