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Catfish Recap: Am I The Only One Wondering If Justin Is Real?


If you watch Catfish: The TV Show, then you already know that the most recent entry, “Artis & Jess,” was the weirdest yet.

Nev and Max guided Artis through an immediately sketchy situation, maneuvering him into a hiatus with his current girlfriend (and mother of his children) so he could go meet “Jess,” a woman he had been flirting with online.

Though Artis and Jess only lived 30 minutes apart (Woodstock and Marengo, IL, respectively), they had never spoken on the phone, never Skyped, and Artis had only seen one picture of her (the picture was of a porn star, incidentally).

Jess could also never meet Artis because of a controlling, suspicious and potentially abusive boyfriend.

So Nev and Max did their thing, dropping Jess’ picture into Google Image Search and discovering that it actually belongs to a porn star. They weren’t really surprised. No one was. The Jess profile was amateur hour; not near the sophistication of other Catfish subjects.

Still, they arranged a meet with Jess, whose messages back made it sound like she was trapped in the Ariel Castro house. Still, she came up with a plan. Meet at the park around 2 pm.

Nev (on crutches), Max and Artis went there and waited until a car finally pulled up. Then this happened:

Artis and Jess Artis Jess

And I was all…

Popcorn yes GIF

It was really, really weird. It felt kind of staged, to be honest.

Jess was this bearded sweaty guy, who at first I thought was gay. He’s not. Well, he might be. Then I thought “maybe this is the real Jess’ controlling, psycho boyfriend.” That would have made for good TV. But it was even weirder than that.

He was an online vigilante. Like, the Batman of Internet dating. Through his fake profile, he would reach out to men in relationships, try to tempt them away from their girlfriends, and then reveal himself with absolute moral turpitude justification. He’s the dark reflection of Nev and Max, their true “other.”

His name is Justin, and though he is very well-spoken and a little theatrical, he appears to be pretty damaged himself.

But is he real? I can’t explain why, but this really bothers me. Catfishhas been criticized in the past for being manipulatively edited or staged, but whatever, I liked the show.

But Justin’s shtick seemed forced. Not his online vigilantism, that much I could wrap my head around. But emerging from his car with a slow clap, not blinking once through his impassioned monologue despite the presence of cameras, all that seemed very… scripted.

I will admit, even though this bothered me, I didn’t really do a lot of diligence. Before the episode had finished, I was on social media searching for any “Justin —” from Marengo, IL, but failed to really turn anything up. Sure, he probably deleted or made private his accounts before the episode aired, if he ever had them.

Since I’m int he Chicago area, I even flirted with driving down to Marengo and hanging out near the town stoplight to keep an eye out for him.

But how can I know if he’s real? Right now I can’t, but Nev and Max are going along with it pretty well if it was staged.

If you have any way of verifying Justin’s existence for me, shoot me an email or a tweet. I’d love to interview him.

Did you catch Catfish? Do you think Jess / Justin is for real?

UPDATE: Check out the results of our investigation into Justin here.

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33 Responses to “Catfish Recap: Am I The Only One Wondering If Justin Is Real?”

  1. Lisa Bennett

    I hoped he was Jess's boyfriend, but as soon as he started the slow clap, I called shenanigans. I can't tell if he was a fake on his own, or if he was planted for weird ratings reasons. Did Nev and Max know about him, or were they genuinely surprised? He seemed to have been already wired for sound when he showed up.

  2. ML McManus

    Really? Do you know or are you speculating? It seems like they would have put more effort into the page, and lie about Artis having a gf also. It was so weird though, anything is possible. I'm at a loss on this one.

  3. Ariel Kìtten Mariya

    I'm.. shocked. I'm not convinced one way or another, but I'm all-too-aware there are psychos out there, and Justin may be one of them.

  4. Ariel Kìtten Mariya

    No. I'm convinced this guy's outta his goddamned mind. I spot a raging sociopath.

  5. Bellaa Trix

    I went to highschool with justin, if this is how he is now, he wasnt back then.

  6. Bellaa Trix

    then again I didn't know him all the well, but he was the class clown type.

  7. Bellaa Trix

    then again I didn't know him all the well, but he was the class clown type.

  8. Eric Radant

    if you google his name it'll bring up a youtube video he posted about a year ago where he talks about a book he's writing/trying to get published. he also mentions that he's suicidal, bulimic, and schizophrenic. dude definitely has issues with booze, as well.

  9. Tori Brooke

    The kid is from the town next to mine, and I can promise you, he actually is real. And he does this. Justin is talked about a lot for it, my merango friends know him. A lot of kids out there say that hes crazy and he thinks hes heloing these people.

  10. Courtney Konopasek

    All of you who are saying you know Justin, and claiming he really is "psycho"… You're all idiots. Do you seriously believe everything you see on TV? Also, what is the point of posting his girlfriends information? I can guarantee she is sick of getting friend requests and messages from all of you. It's just a TV show, get over it people

  11. Rick Lopez Jr.

    Everyone posting here that they know him is a fucking liar and full of shit. He's already been exposed as an actor and his youtube videos have been found. You all claiming to know him look SO fucking stupid right now.

  12. Brianna Hoggatt

    I can't be 100% sure, but I want to say I took a theater class with him in college. If it is the same guy, he was always a little nutty to me…

  13. Samantha Jennings

    When the camera turned to some reckless driver speeding through the parking lot, I figured it was just unrelated, extra footage that missed the cutting process–you know, one of those irrelevant clips they keep just for commercials to get us interested in tuning in on its debut night. That is until the car came to a hard stop. Like many of you, I believed the man walking out of the car was the angry, controlling boyfriend of "Jess." However, we find out soon enough that he IS "Jess." Well, Justin.

    What caught my attention more than what might have been the show's first fight (which would have added a sling to Nev's post-injury ensemble) was his abnormal, anti-social behavior.

    As a self-proclaimed vigilante set out to catch men who cheat on their girlfriends, Justin had an irrational sense of entitlement. Coupled with his erratic behavior, his overall behavior mirrored those of individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. Justin clearly showed a lack of empathy after what he did and not only justified his destructive ways, but continued pointing out the wrongdoings of others in an attempt to re-validate his own self-worth. He was emotionally detached. Also, despite his over confidence and false sense of superiority over others, he likely lacks self-esteem and cannot take criticism–as seen multiple times when he avoided Nev and Max's [on point] questions and disregarded their statements questioning his character and intention.

    Not sure if he was just told to put on an act to reel in [see what I did there] viewers that jumped off the Catfish bandwagon or if he actually suffers from a personality disorder. All I know is this: The profile picture is the bait [or lure if you don't like touching worms], and the catch is, of course, a catfish… that turns out to be that hot chick with who you shared your most intimate feelings… without the boobs. And the blonde hair and mascara. And all things feminine.

    Facebook will forever remain [until it becomes the Meg Griffin of social media, or MySpace] the breeding ground for heartbreak. Men and women become so desperate for love that they don't dare to investigate their catches. Because they know there is a chance that they have been lied to; as a result, that may produce more misery and pain than being single.

  14. Jean-marc Evrard

    ML McManus Yeah, just watched a video with both of them hanging out talking about how it was totally staged, with the help of catfish. the last part is the only part I question, but they definitely have known each other before the episode was filmed. If the show didn't stage this, maybe they should do a background check(as in who they know and what school and work associates they have) on these people before airing the episodes.

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