“Catfish: The TV Show” continues to tell same-sex stories

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This week on Catfish: The TV Show, 28-year-old mother of two Chitara is hoping to meet the woman she fell for online, a nurse named Priscilla. Sadly, Priscilla has all but disappeared, breaking up with Chitara, saying she fell for a man and that she isn’t gay, despite their having an intimate connection via technology for the past six months.

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One thing I really love about Catfish is that it has always included queer stories, whether it ended up being true love on both ends or someone pretending to be the opposite sex in order to express their own desired sexuality through a fictional person (as when Dee Pimpin said she was the rapper Bow Wow in order to meet women online). Although it’s not always a happy ending for either person involved, there’s a benefit to seeing these stories and relationships (no matter how “real” they end up), because same-sex relationships are treated with the same respect and care that the heterosexual ones are.

This week’s episode with Chitara is a great case in point. Nev and guest host, actor Alex Shaffer, talk with Chitara (who identifies as bisexual) about meeting Priscilla on MocoSpace, finding her attractive, and how the women would stay up on the phone together. But Priscilla began to withdraw when Chitara wanted to meet IRL.

“You guys are like falling asleep on the phone together. You don’t fake that unless you’re really, like, crazy!” Alex tells Chitara when they first meet via Skype.

“This was only about a month ago that you guys broke up,” Nev says. “Do you think that you still love her?” Before Catfish, dating reality shows were still a little weird when it came to featuring same-sex relationships. Even on MTV, shows like Next or A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila felt a little too hyper-sexual and voyeuristic when it came to featuring women interested in relationships with one another. Catfish, as a truly voyeuristic show by nature, does not do anything different handling a romance between two women or two men.

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The previous week’s episode featured a young woman named Daisy who was in a relationship with a woman who she was going to meet at the train station, when her father dropped dead of an aneurysm at home. Her mother has since blamed Daisy and her same-sex relationship for being the cause of her father’s death and why she wasn’t there to save him. 

“I was in a relationship with a girl. My parents were kind of slapping the shit out of me, like ‘What the fuck is this? We didn’t raise you like this! You’re not gay!’ She was supposed to come to my house and we were on the way to go pick her up. It was my mom, me, my sister, my brother—she was supposed to meet us at the train station. And she says ‘I can’t come over.’ She was afraid of my family. So my mom was just livid. They all leave at this point….they go home. They found my dad, like, on the floor because he had an aneurism and a stroke at the same time. And so they said that if they never dropped me off, my dad would be alive, so they blamed me. If we never dropped you to see your girlfriend, he would be alive. And I completely broke down.”

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Daisy had since connected with a person named Marcus online, and used him as a lifeline because everything else around her had fallen apart. (I won’t spoil the ending for you.)

Bisexuality is never doubted or questioned on Catfish,which is an achievement in and of itself. (See: A Shot at Love.) As a host, credit goes to Nev in his progressively getting better with discussing sexuality and gender identity over the course of four seasons. With Chitara, he discusses how she was closeted until she found herself truly falling for Priscilla.

“She could still get the business!” Chitara jokes. “She bad!”

One of Chitara’s friends acknowledged how it was a little difficult for her to talk about her bisexuality with her family. “For her to do this now on national TV, she really really cares about Priscilla,” her friend said. “It’s about love. People go above and beyond for love all the time.” (I won’t spoil this ending either, but you can watch the episode below.)

On Daisy’s episode, Nev and out gay guest host Tyler Oakley sit down with her Honduran mother and sister to talk about their familial relationship, and it’s clear that things are still very strained, and rarely discussed. Daisy’s mother says Daisy “lives her own way.” 

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“I was stuck on the highway, taking her to the train station. It was depressing. We we were really close to my husband,” Daisy’s mom says, and Daisy’s sister says there’s a lot of judgment there.

“My mom has this whole image of what I’m supposed to be or what she wants me to be I should be,” Daisy says when they leave the house.

“That’s an impossible, impossible standard,” Nev says, and he’s right. Nev isn’t a trained therapist or private investigator or counselor, but he is a respectful, LGBT positive host that works to facilitate honest conversations between the people behind the technology. The show being as successful as it is means that Americans are privy to them, too, and for some of them, it means meeting people that are more like them than anyone else they have in their lives. For others, it’s an education on how same-sex relationships can share the same kinds of challenges and triumphs that heterosexual ones can. Catfish also does this for different classes, races, parts of the country—all of the things that contribute to our personal identities.

And although sometimes the show doesn’t deliver the reality that some of the subjects might be hoping for, Catfish is some of the most real reality TV that we’ve ever seen. Recent guest host Angel Haze told us they thought the whole thing was fake, but was surprised to see nothing was set up when they were brought on the show, and it made the experience that much more special. It’s a great thing when good TV is also doing good in the world, and helping viewers to understand our differences and our similarities is contributing that kind of positivity. 

Daisy’s episode is available on MTV On-Demand. Catfish airs new episodes every Wednesday night on MTV.

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