The season premiere of Catfish hooked over 2.2 million viewers earlier this week and now co-creator/co-star Nev Schulman is attempting to rally his fans around Our Time and a cause of massive importance: the student loan crisis.
On July 1, interest rates on student loans will double unless Congress acts, resulting in an increase of over $1,000 a year for graduates. Schulman recently recorded a video plea (see that below) and chatted with ETonline about his passion for philanthropy. Additionally, he serves up a few new season teases to ensure you're hungry for more Catfish.
ETonline: How did you come to partner with Our Time?
New Schulman: I've actually been really involved with Our Time for a couple of years now. Before season one of the show, when I felt like I wanted to figure out a way to get connected and help move my generation in a better direction, I didn't know how to do that. I got lucky that I was introduced to Matthew Segal and Jarrett Moreno, who run Our Time. For the first time I saw an organization that was doing what I'd like to be doing and working towards the same goals I feel passionately about. Before I had a show that kind of gave me a platform to speak to an audience, they were behind me. Now, as I've become more well-known, all of a sudden the give and take becomes more mutual because I can start helping them back. I've been excited to work with them because I think there is a huge potential to bring more important and pressing matters to the forefront of the conversation on social media. I'm clearly not alone in that, but it's something I really care about.
ETonline: Why did you feel particularly passionate about raising awareness for the student loan crisis?
Schulman: I don't think a lot of people know about this and for kids who are currently in school and will need to continue using student loans, they need to know now that, if and when this percentage increases, they will no longer have a choice. So before that happens the idea is to raise awareness to prevent it from happening. Making college more affordable is something I think everybody should agree with.
ETonline: This week marked a huge step forward for equality in our country. Do you see signs like that as proof the next generation is starting to exert its power in government?
Schulman: The millennial generation is the largest in American history and something like 80 percent of them are in favor of gender equality and marriage equality -- just across the board equality. We're much more open-minded having been exposed to all kinds of ideas of sexuality, so as we're becoming more involved in government, it's very clear the tempo these topics are being brought up is increasing in frequency.
ETonline: So you take it as a compliment that many consider you and Max to have TV's best gay relationship?
Schulman: [laughs] Yeah, I think we're a great pair.
ETonline: I think it stems from the amazing dynamic you two share while making this show, which was on full display in the premiere. Looking ahead, what excites you about season two?
Schulman: The thing that most excites me about season two is, having experienced and shared season one, people are primed. They understand the premise of the show, so we don't have to do a lot of explaining. We can go deeper into the issues and stories. For me, it's been really rewarding to be a little more direct and honest with the people on the show about how I think their actions are affecting them.
ETonline: Did the show's popularity lead to you and Max getting Catfished, in a way, by people faking their stories to get on the show?
Schulman: Our experience has been totally the opposite. And I think it's because people understand what we're doing is unlike other reality shows in that we're not only creating opportunities for people to meet for the first time, but also providing a safe space for people to really express themselves. At the end of the day, I think they want to be heard, they want to have an audience to tell their story to and feel as though someone is listening. If nothing else, I think Max and I are there to listen. People came out of the woodwork after season one because there are a lot of people going through things like this in the world.
ETonline: What has been the biggest change in the kinds of people you're getting this season?
Schulman: We're really dealing with situations that reach further than just the excitement of a possible relationship. We're dealing with stories about people at crossroads of situations they don't know how to get out of with multiple people involved. We're dealing with much more complex and intricate scenarios with a real mix of emotions and the results have been wild. We really help people gain self-awareness and realize that the choices they've been making are, either been hurting them and help them see that to change their ways, or we've made incredible love connections with people who do share an amazing connection. This season has some really beautiful happy endings.
ETonline: What's been the most shocking episode you've shot this year?
Schulman: We're only halfway through filming, but the episode we just filmed had me the most up in arms. We came into the story knowing a lot already about the "Catfish" and what was so frustrating and difficult about it for me, and something people will feel when they watch it, is the utter frustration and disappointment of us wanting to help this person and them just not being able to let their guard down. They keep lying to our faces, make things up and play the victim when all we want to do is give them an opportunity to come clean and let it go. It's hard to see a great person with so much potential be incapable of realizing it.
To learn more about Our Time, click here. Catfish airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.