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 consider luxury items as something that is nice to have, but that I can also live without.”—Female, 23, FL

How has the recession made Millennials reject capitalism? According to a Harvard University survey, 51% of 18-29-year-olds say they do not support capitalism, but it may be that young voters are essentially frustrated by the “flaws of free markets.” When asked about socialism, only 33% said they were in support of the alternative system, making the analysis of the data complex. It is also unclear how the Millennials surveyed define capitalism, since the meaning has shifted throughout the years. According to one pollster, the term once meant freedom from totalitarian regimes, but is now blamed for the financial crisis. (Washington Post

Financial technology startups are narrowing their focus to keep Silicon Valley interested. It is no longer enough for a young company to disrupt the financial industry, they need to think niche to stand out from the competition. Financial start-up Pave targets consumers with a lack of credit history, like college students. Promise Financial provides loans specifically for weddings (which 74% of 18-33-year-olds say have become too expensive), and has partnered with over 100 wedding venues and vendors to offer loans when major purchases are being made. (Wall Street Journal

Luxury brands are looking towards the future by focusing in on Millennials. The generation has the potential to be the largest spending group in history, and by 2020 the oldest Millennials will be entering their peak earning years. To prepare, luxury brands are shifting to cater to the generation who values “über-luxe” travel over costly jewelry, shoes, and bags. Brands are turning to new influencers—from the Instagram-famous to video game characters— to form relationships with Millennials before they become the core luxury demographic. (WWD

GE has created an unexpected product to attract Millennial engineers: hot sauce. In partnership with thrillist and High River Sauces, the company has introduced the limited edition 10^32 Kelvin—named after the temperature that “scientists believe all matter ceases to exist.” The sauce combines the two hottest peppers in the world, and is made to get the attention of young applicants who may be more inclined to work for a “trendier” company. There is no doubt that hot sauce is a major trend: one market research firm predicts that by 2020 popular sauces will earn $632 million in new sales. (Fox News

An exclusive club called Magnises is “targeting Millennials and brands, wallets and insecurities.” We first told you about Magnises as a start-up targeting high earning Millennials, and since then it has branched out as a community-focused platform joining the ranks of WeLive and Soho House. Playing off Millennials’ struggle to form connections, the company wants to bring “the benefits of an online social network immediacy, convenience, interactivity—into the real world,” through member-only and sponsored events. They are expecting $5 million in revenue this year, with the  majority coming from brands. (Racked

Quote of the Day: “When shopping for a home, my must-have is an in-law suite.”—Male, 23, DE

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