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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Quote of the Day: “For me being an adult means being entirely independent. I pay my own bills, make all decisions in my life, and feel very in control.”—Male, 20, NY

Gilmore Girls Snapchat filter unlocked big numbers for Netflix. When they took over 200 local cafés to recreate the show’s Luke’s diner and promote the upcoming reboot, Netflix also added Snapcodes to 10,000 coffee cups that gave customers access to a sponsored filter for up to an hour. The filter, which featured a sign from Luke’s and the image of toaster with the show’s premiere date, was viewed 880,000 times and reached more than 500,000 people in one day. Snap to Unlock is a fairly new ad offering from Snapchat that has already been used by Sprite, Burberry, and Cinnabon. (Adweek

REI has tapped into Facebook 360 videos to reach multicultural Millennials. As part of their “Access Outdoors” campaign, the outdoor gear retailer released three two-minute long Facebook 360-degree videos featuring artists in Austin, Chicago and Los Angeles working on art installations. Vix, a publisher whose audience is 65% Hispanic and 12% African-American, was used to share the videos, with the goal that the young residents from the three major cities would see “the outdoors [as] more accessible.” The effort reportedly generated more than 822,000 views on Facebook. (Digiday)

Millennial women have almost closed the alcohol consumption gender gap. According to new analysis: “Men born between 1891 and 1910 were 2.2 times as likely as women to drink alcohol; among people born between 1991 and 2000, that ratio fell to 1.1.” The likeliness of alcohol abuse in young women has also increased from a century ago, and is currently nearly equal to young men. Analysts say the closing of other gender gaps, like education, employment, and status, has given women more opportunities to drink. (The Atlantic

Netflix and Hulu may have some major competition coming their way. LeEco, the "Netflix of China," will launch LeEco Live in America early next year, and will include shows and movies from partners like Showtime and Lionsgate. The brand, which been ‘dominating’ the Chinese market, started as a streaming video service but has grown to also develop tech like TVs, VR headsets, and smartphones. Their new service will be programmed to work seamlessly across these devices, providing a “consistent experience.” (Business Insider

Children’s curiosity is fueling the popularity of nonfiction digital content. Research from Insight Kids’ has revealed that 92% of kids like watching nonfiction entertainment, which can include “tutorials, reality programs, ads/trailers, behind-the-scenes footage, music videos, ‘making of’ content and cast interviews.” Being in control of what they learn is driving their interest, with 62% saying non-fiction content inspire them with ideas on what to learn or do. (Kidscreen)  

Quote of the Day: "I do not want any of the candidates currently in the running to win the election.”—Male, 22, FL

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