The two reveal the pros and cons of filming the new season virtually and any red flags for anyone taking to the apps during lockdown.
The "Catfish" on MTV's reality show aren't the only ones hiding behind their computer screens this season.
With filming taking place during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the network made the decision to film the entire season virtually -- with hosts Nev Schulman and Kamie Crawford doing all their investigating from the comfort of their own, sometimes hectic, homes.
This time around, the two communicate with each other -- as well as the hopefuls and those exposed -- via Zoom, as they try and get to the bottom of some suspicious online relationships.
Dating apps have seen a rise in use since lockdown began and while those using them may not be meeting up in real life, yet, Schulman said he believes the pandemic has "permanently changed the way we all think about social interaction, especially when it comes to casual hookups that might be a result" of the apps.
"Actually, I think it's for the better," he told TooFab. "Because moving forward -- I know people are still meeting on dating apps, I know people are still going out -- but they're taking a bit more caution and precautions now when it comes to deciding if they really want to take the risk for their personal wellness and safety of going to meet someone off the internet. I think that's a good thing."
Crawford said popularity for virtual dating in lockdown also might help raise some red flags a bit earlier for any potential catfish out there.
"If the person isn't willing to hop on a FaceTime call within like the first, I would say I'm going to give you two weeks -- three weeks I feel like is too long -- I think two weeks is just enough," she explained. "We're all in the house, so you know you can figure it out. I think two weeks tops for the FaceTime and if they're not willing to do that I think it's just time to move on."
Keep reading for our full conversation with the two hosts and see what they consider the pros (naps, booze) and cons (no traveling) of filming during lockdown, why they believe catfish still use popular photos in the age of reverse-image searches and how the virtual confrontations compare to the IRL ones on the new season.
What were the initial conversations like when it came down to deciding how to approach the new season?
Crawford: I think there was definitely a little bit of hesitation on everyone's part because the season premiered back in March, so it was kind of uncharted territory as far as quarantine television goes. Everyone was still in a weird place, but overall we were all so eager and excited to get back to work and start doing something other than just sitting at home. At least for me, I was super bored. I don’t have any kids, but Nev has a whole family. We wanted to get back to work, but we wanted to make sure we were doing it in a safe way and everyone was feeling safe and protected. And also making sure we're still making the amazing show that everyone knows and loves. It was exciting.
Did it help break up what has become a bit of a loop for other people?
Schulman: For me, having something to do both helped break me out of that mundane cycle of everyday being fantastic -- but a lot of cleaning, feeding, and then cleaning -- so it was nice to have an excuse to say to my wife, 'You know, sorry as much as I’d love to continue cleaning and feeding our children, I have to go to work now.' It really reminds you how important it is to have something that is both fulfilling but also separate from your family or significant other or even your friends, that's just something that you do and that makes you feel good and proud about. It was definitely a welcome return to work even though I was only you know 50 feet away from them in the guest room. At least I had something that I was doing that I love to do.
Was it challenging to film with two kids running around?
Schulman: Yeah. I am finding how lucky I am to have such great kids. And even though they're only one-and-a-half and three-and-a-half they generally have a really lovely disposition and they're in great moods. And, for the most part, they listen and understand when they're asked to do things. They pretty much left me alone and then, in many cases, they popped in and lent a much welcome cuteness factor into the show and actually participated to some extent. It's been fun. We've incorporated our home lives much more into the show obviously, and I think it's been really nice.
How would you describe the conversations between the catfish and the hopefuls when doing it virtually. Do you think there's more honesty because of that virtual barrier, versus being face to face?
Crawford: I think you're spot on with that. I think they're definitely being more forthcoming. Sometimes aggressive. Sometimes finally seeing that person and realizing that they're real or not can be startling ... they might be at a complete loss for words, which happens in real life too, but I think people over Zoom and virtually it's a lot easier to say the things that you want say because you’re not in the presence of this person. Good or bad, it's different.
In the premiere, we see this catfish using recognizable people as their photos. Are you surprised people are still trying to get away with stuff like that?
Schulman: It's funny because obviously we didn't know while we're filming that episode who that person was. But, of course, we did a little bit of research and very quickly and relatively easily found out who it was. It is surprising because there's such a wealth of options on the internet as far as people to take photos from and pretend to be. So it does always surprise me that people are sort of lazy about it and at the same time, I really don't think people expect these haphazard profiles to ever really become so significant that the relationships are ever going to go anywhere and I think they probably assume that people are likely to expect them to be fake to begin with. It's weird. It's a mixture of laziness, but also just the unexpected nature of the internet that people find photos and use them.
That laziness goes for the flip side too. By now, you'd think everyone would know how to do a reverse image search, especially because of this show.
Crawford: Especially when people are like, 'I've seen some episodes of the show,' and I'm like, 'If you think you're in this situation you might need to sit down and binge watch a full season and really come face to face to what you could be dealing with here.
When it comes to filming the whole season from home, what's one upside and one drawback?
Schulman: One of the plus sides for me has just been to be at home with my kids. I still very much love traveling and look forward to doing that again, but for the first 4 or 5 years of making the show I was a pretty untethered individual. Now, obviously, I'm married, I got my kids and there is something really nice about getting into that daily routine so that your kids expect you to be there every morning and just the fun of having them choose who they're going to snuggle with, you or your wife, and the more time you spend the more often they choose you which is always fun and a great thing to brag to your spouse about.
To be fair, at the same time, I think the thing I miss most about the show is the traveling because you can't replace the significance for both us and I think the viewer of getting to see inside of the lives and homes of the people on the show. It really helps ground their story and their experience. And I think it helps you understand how somebody in that situation and perhaps that geographic location or even just in that community might have used this internet relationship as a reason to escape their reality. So, I'm looking forward to us getting back on the road but also relishing in having this much needed time off.
Crawford: I agree. I definitely miss the travel even though sometimes we're going to really remote areas where there is nothing but a Taco Bell in the entire town. There's something exciting about that. Obviously, living in LA it's just completely different and it is really nice to meet people where they're at in their hometown. But the thing that I think I love the most about working from home right now is the access that I have to my bed, to take a nap in between when we're filming. That's my favorite part."
It looks like the access to your alcohol has also been nice.