"Hey guys, the time has come, sadly, for me to move on from Catfish. Working on this show for the last seven years has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. I've learned a lot about myself, my country and human nature in general. Nev and I have become brothers and our bromance has blossomed before your eyes," Joseph said in a statement.
Fans of the series probably aren't too surprised by this development. Joseph previously took a brief leave of absence from the series to direct the 2015 Zac Efron movie We Are Your Friends, which he also wrote. Now Joseph is ready to dive back into full-time filmmaking and leave his reality TV past behind. (Although, hopefully his future projects will fare a little better than the flopped DJ film.)
Hey guys, the time has come, sadly, for me to leave Catfish... pic.twitter.com/w21HFsfiz9— Max Joseph (@maxjoseph) August 8, 2018
While we're happy to see Joseph chase his dreams, this is devastating news for Catfish fans who already had to suffer through Max's five-episode absence in Season 4, when Nev Schulman recruited random guest co-hosts like Charlamagne Tha God and Tyler Oakley to help him hunt down the true identities behind internet relationships. There's no word yet on whether Schulman will be getting another permanent co-host, but it's hard to imagine the series without Joseph. He was often the audience surrogate, serving side-eye when it needed to be served and bringing people down to reality when they were getting lost in idealistic delusions.
Joseph's exit also comes only a few months after production on Season 7 was shut down due to sexual misconduct allegations against Schulman. MTV cleared Schulman in June, saying the claims against the host were "not credible and without merit."
However, the recent allegations were not the first time Schulman has found himself under fire. In his book In Real Life: Love, Lies & Identity in the Digital Age, Schulman said he punched a woman in the head repeatedly while he was attending Sarah Lawrence College in 2006, but he was not aware his target was a woman at the time. The victim, and other students, painted a different picture of what happened, saying he assaulted the victim after the victim asked him to stop taking pictures of couples at the college's hedonistic Sleaze Ball. Schulman was kicked out of the school for the incident, but no charges were filed.
Given all this, the idea of a Catfish built solely around Schulman doesn't seem like a Catfish we want to watch. For a long time now, Joseph was the one who made the series palatable — and made watching Schulman palatable — and so without Joseph, what's even the point?
Catfish airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on MTV.