Catfish: The TV Show host Nev Schulman says to “expect the unexpected” as Catfish has returned for its ninth season.

For a little over a decade, the hit MTV series has been all about exposing fraudulent people in their quest for love while posing as someone other than themselves. Since its inception, however, the stakes (and storylines) have grown higher and have taken interesting twists and turns.

Season 9 also sees the return of the show’s co-host Kamie Crawford, who has quickly become a fan-favorite since joining the show full-time.

“The show came as a result of my experience getting catfished originally in the documentary. So initially many of the stories and people who were reaching out for help were in similar situations that I had found myself in — where they were talking to someone far away, they were in love, and they didn’t know if it was truly who they thought it was or not and they needed help finding out,” he said in an interview with Blavity’s Shadow and Act. 

“As the show has gone on now, for 12 years, the types of relationships and scenarios have broadened, and we’ve seen all kinds of things. We’ve had episodes where married couples who are just sort of distanced in their relationship have used catfishing the other to kind of rekindle,” he said. “We’ve had friends, cousins, family members who have used catfishing accounts to get revenge or to get back at someone. And in this season, we’ve just continued to cast a wider net, if you will, and let more people who have different types of stories — but still need help very much in the same way — come on the show and go on their journey with them.”

When asked what the show’s secret to success is and why it remains a cult favorite, Nev shared the key factors that he believes keep people tuning in for more.

“I think it’s sort of a mixture of things,” he explained. “For sure, people enjoy watching the show for any number of reasons, whether it’s the humor between me and Max or me and Kamie or any of my co-hosts, or the mystery and sort of ‘who’s going to be behind that door when it opens.’ For sure I think those play a part, but the big thing, whether people acknowledge it or not, is the empathy that the show maintains toward everyone who comes on, despite people’s bad decisions and mistakes, and in some cases, poor behavior. We really try to give them an opportunity, should they take it, to be seen as a person and be listened to. I think that really resonates with people because it’s getting harder and harder for people to find that.”

Nev also spoke to people still getting catfished, despite being in the new age of technology and social media.

“I think there will always be a portion of the population that despite the knowledge of the tools available to them to avoid getting catfished, they’ll always prefer to look the other way or to ignore red flags,” he said. “That said, I know there are many, many people who, as a result of watching the show or even just being aware of the concept of Catfish, have messaged me and said, ‘Oh my God, you know I’ve been watching your show for years and I just met this guy online or this girl and right away I did an image search or I use some of the tools they use on the show and found out they were lying.’ So I do know it’s helping, which is great, and I am happy to hear that, and I would love it if there was never another catfish scenario and I didn’t have to, you know, help people find out the truth. But, I’d also love if there was no war in the world or that people would stop killing each other, but those are things that, unfortunately, despite most people agreeing shouldn’t happen, still happen, and have for all of human history, so I don’t think catfishing is going away anytime soon.”

For him, the biggest surprises on the show come when those doing the investigating get their happy ending. But the biggest thing in terms of the legacy of Catfish that would make Nev the most proud would be bringing people back to having more empathy for others, no matter what their circumstances in love or life may be.

New episodes of Catfish premiere Tuesdays on MTV.