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Rod Pulls a Reverse 'Catfish': Were Nev and Max Too Easy On Him?

By Jean Bentley, Hollywood.com Staff

What happens when a man enlists MTV to help him track down his Internet girlfriend, but he's the one who's been lying in the relationship? The story of Rod and Ebony might not have been the most satisfying episode of Catfish, but it was certainly the most thought-provoking.

First things first: This was clearly the first episode Nev and Max filmed. The format wasn't nailed down yet, their research process wasn't as streamlined, and they weren't sure how much they should or shouldn't get involved in the confrontation aside from facilitating the meeting between the couple in the first place. Frankly, all the changes they've made as they finessed their process were all totally necessary, because this week felt like it was missing something.

Second things second: Someone's GIF'd Max and Nev working out in short shorts and tank tops, right? Asking for a friend.

And now to the actual episode: This is the first time our intrepid investigators agreed to help out a person who freely admitted to having deceived their online significant other for four years. (Kya doesn't count, because she'd already told Alyx, a.k.a. Dani, she'd been lying.) Halfway through the hour, Rod revealed that he'd only kept up his relationship Ebony because she was sending him money and paying his phone bills. How were we supposed to root for this guy?

Here's the lie count: Rod had used fake photos and a fake name, while Ebony wasn't actually transgendered (she's just a regular ol' natural-born woman who had dated women for 15 years) and hadn't told him she had a daughter. Although both of them hadn't told the truth, once Rod mentioned the money factor it was really hard to be on his side in the situation.

Max and Nev talked a lot about how they thought Rod was confused about his sexuality (something else they've cut out of subsequent episodes — why were they talking so much smack about their subject behind his back in the first place?) but that really seemed to help in coaxing Ebony to remain his friend. It also allowed her to admit why she'd lied in the first place and why she was giving Rod money — she really did have cancer, she was incredibly lonely in a new city, and she just wanted someone to talk to and to be her friend.

You hear so often about people faking cancer for sympathy from strangers online; who would've thought that she was telling the truth about that part? Maybe that's cynical, but this is a show about Internet liars. Aside from Ebony, who'd lied about the transgender thing, the only other person who's been telling the truth so far was Matt, who'd only hidden the fact that he'd gained a lot of weight over the years.

In the end, Rod and Ebony still talk multiple times a week but it didn't really seem like anything had been resolved as far as Rod's sexuality questions and about why he was catfishing in the first place. Ebony revealed why she'd lied, but why didn't they make Rod confess too? He might've been the one who enlisted Nev and Max's help, but he was just as guilty as Ebony was.

What did you think of Rod and Ebony's story? Did the unrefined format throw you off? Were Max and Nev too easy on Rod? How would you have reacted in Ebony's situation?

Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean

[PHOTO CREDIT: MTV]

More:

Why 'Catfish' is the New 'Jersey Shore' (Thanks to Manti Te'o)

'Catfish' Star Nev Schulman Responds to the Manti Te'o Controversy

MTV's 'Catfish' TV Show Succeeds Where the Film Failed

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