Catching a Catfish: Constructing the ‘good’ social media user in reality television

Michael Lovelock

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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This article interrogates the cultural work of ‘old’ media texts which take social media use as a narrative focus. Employing the MTV reality show Catfish: The TV Show as a case study, I argue that, in this program, the specific conventions of reality television - authenticity, confession and self-realization – work to produce and circulate normative scripts of “appropriate” and “inappropriate” ways to articulate the self on social media, which align with reality TV’s established investment in the concept of the ‘authentic’ self. Further, I argue that the show’s representations of social media use valorize the primacy of connecting with and accepting one’s ‘real’ self, making legible a subject position which speaks particularly to young people – the program’s target demographic – in the contemporary juncture of 2010s ‘crisis’ neoliberalism, by transposing political questions into personal crises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalTelevision and New Media
Issue number3
Early online date3 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • social media
  • reality television
  • Facebook
  • Catfish: The TV Show
  • catfishing
  • identity

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