At 31-years-old, Nev Schulman is one on the long list of young pioneers in our Digital age. After a beautiful mistake of online-love, the New Yorker helped shape a generation thanks to his discovery and subsequent identification of the now all too-popular Catfish Syndrome.  With a touchy book, an addictive series on MTV

Before the world met Nev in 2010, he was living in New York city, as he puts it, heading in no “particular track,” and on a dull-day he received an e-mail from what he thought was a little girl, praising his photography work. A photo she had seen of his on her recent visit to the big apple. What would follow in the ensuing year would change his life and that of tech-heads everywhere. It would change the face of online-love. Forever.  His life in the last five years to bystanders and those who see him on his docs-series may seem like a big roll of catfish (no pun intended). For Nev, it’s hard to place a timeline on the events that have spiraled into so much good.  Reflecting on the social-issue that made the word “catfish” become one of the most used words in internet-lingo, Shulman dishes on what its like swimming with the fish.


DA: I think people are going to remember you because you’ve given a name to something that’s so alive in our society. People are able to identify this easily now.

It wasn’t like it wasn’t happening. It was happening but it was being talked about it behind closed doors—it was embarrassing. It was taboo. Not that many people were eager to discuss doing it or having it done to them. Then all of the sudden, it happened to someone, and there was a film about it, and it was like, that actually happened to me too. And now I know the words to use to describe it.

DA: In your book Nev, In Real Life, I love how in the book you took us back to your life on the day you were Catfished. How do you think life would have continued had you not gotten a message that day?

I was definitely not on any particular track. I probably would’ve kept running my little film company, making Bar mitzvah and wedding videos. Which I wasn’t really happy doing anymore. But it was  good source of income and it was relatively easy. Although, I knew I didn’t want end up being a 40-year-old guy with a bar mitzvah videography [Laughs]. That’s not me. I joke with a touch of sincerity, that if this catfish hadn’t happened I’d probably be in prison or dead. I needed something to happen to me. To sort of knock me on my ass, and really sort of teach me a lesson in humility, and oddly, collect all of my strange, unique traits that I’ve accumulated over the years. Fate or the universe, just put it in front of me and said, hey, this could be something if you take advantage of it. Make it work, because it can work for you.

DA: The initial catfish situation happened over six years ago. But with your work you seem to be reliving since then.

In some ways, it exists in a very far away, past life. Because, when you live through something that’s like that, it’s one thing. It’s a memory that you never tell, or maybe it comes up in a story and maybe it doesn’t.

But when you live through it and it’s on camera, and those nine-months then get turned into a film that you then watch and discuss over and over again. Your memory almost gets replaced with the film, and the sound bites that you end up repeating over, and over again to tell people about it. So, it almost extended those nine-months of my life, into the last five-years.

DA: What relationship do you have with your catfish?

We have very little communication. I still feel like there’s a connection between us. I’d like to be more in touch with Angela. Once or twice a year she’ll check in and me know how she’s doing. I wanted to her to be a part of the show. Someone we could call-in if we were stuck or needed counsel. But she kindly told me over e-mail once, that Catfish was my thing now, and I respect that. She never wanted to go into showbiz or be in a film. But she understood the importance of it at the time and gave us her blessing on the film.

DA:There are so many episodes now. Do you feel like the stories have changed now that they’re televised?

There have a  been a few episodes now that I think have slipped through the cracks in terms of people wanting to get on the show. Even people who have constructed their relationship specifically to appeal to the structure of our show. With that said, I’m constantly amazed that we are able to keep making the show. Because on one hand you think, technology has changed so much over the last four years. How’re people still being fooled? How are people still putting up with someone who can’t video-chat?  But I constantly remind myself that, while the believability of each individual relationship seemingly gets tougher and tougher, because we’re dealing with young people, with snapchats and instagrams. But, what overwhelmingly persists and enables the show to continue, both being made and being watched and for us to still feel something new and relevant is that at the core, of all of these stories is the basic need and desire to be loved. People are willing to put themselves through, or ignore whatever they have to in order to feel that. That’s why we still have a show. There’s no good reason that you would talk to someone for more than a week without knowing for sure that someone is real. We usually have our checkoffs. In the end there’s always that same element of, well I don’t really want to find out if they’re fake because I’m so addicted to the attention I’m getting.

DA: Is there any particular story and experience that has been the specially memorable?

We did an episode this season where we dealt with the supernatural. There were two people who had connected because the spirit of one of their parents had reached out to them. She didn’t know if the person telling her this was real or if what they were saying was.  I have to admit, that the whole experienced fucked my head up a bit. These two people who had no reason knowing each-other, she wasn’t a medium for hire or anything like that. It was pretty intense but it changed my outlook on life, death and the universe.

DA: Your new show Suspect. Is slightly different with a different structure, but the heart of catfish remains.


Me and a new-co-host named IO,we similarly travel around the country helping people who solicit us because they are concerned, worried, or afraid that someone very close to them is keeping a big secret. it could be a health issue, it could be a psychological thing. It could be a relationship dynamic, it could be anything. They need help. and a wedge has been driven between their friend or lover. We help facilitate a reconnection. We inform ourselves as much as we can, about what might be happening or what could be the issue, so that we’re prepared to offer some support or help.

DA: This seems like deeper step, after catfish.

It’s definitely opened up the spectrum of issues that we can get into. Not the least of which is gender and sexuality, shame, mental illness and eating disorders. We had an episode that dealt with a very serious physical illness. It’s amazing what people will hide from the ones they love because they don’t want to be a burden or they don’t want to freak someone out.


0304 05 06 07

About The Author

Aleksandar Tomovic
Editor in Chief

French photographer (of Serbian Origins) lives and works in Los Angeles. Known for his celebrity fashion editorials and recognized around the world for his european esthetics and american efficiency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.