The talented pop artist Sham Ibrahim was featured on the latest episode of Catfish: The TV Show on MTV, and it was quite a doozy.
Sham, a transgender drag queen from Palm Springs, California, was introduced to viewers after she fell head over heels for a man named Phillip whom she met on Instagram and quickly followed over to Snapchat as they got to know each other better.
Despite ignoring every single red flag (and there were several), Sham was smitten and admitted to Nev and Kamie that she was already thinking ahead to the wedding despite having not even met this guy in person.
One more thing, this Phillip person was supposedly some sort of royalty. I wasn’t kidding about red flags.
Since I’ve known Sham for at least a decade now, I had so many questions about Catfish and her experience on the show that I just had to ask.
Despite writing and editing reality TV content for longer than I’ve known Sham, I learned quite a bit about how reality TV works. And even more importantly, I learned just how real reality TV can be, especially on a show like Catfish, where they take real-life situations and flesh them out for the viewers’ shock, dismay, and ultimately, for their entertainment.
Here’s what I learned about Sham Ibrahim’s appearance on Catfish: The TV Show
First and foremost, there is still a lot of reality involved in reality TV, at least with the MTV hit Catfish: The TV Show. Sham confirmed that what we see is very much what we get, aside from a couple of cut scenes that I honestly wish they’d left in. This was all real — really real.
Also, we know they have to fit a lot of content in a tiny time slot so it would make sense to cut some things out simply for continuity and to fit it all into one 42-minute episode.
So how real is it?
“After the producer called, they just said ‘what’s the guy’s snapchat?’ I didn’t have his Instagram anymore because he had disappeared from there so I just gave them the handle. This is how raw and real it is. I looked like s**t in the first scene because I thought someone would be there to fix my hair.”
It turns out that Catfish does not have a hair and makeup team.
In fact, they literally showed up at Sham’s house (yes that’s really her house with her real art on the walls), swooped her up, and started their search for this “prince” Phillip person or whoever was behind it.
At first, Sham wasn’t even clear that the show they were doing was Catfish, and she thought that maybe she was meeting up with a film crew to do her own show alongside Phillip. However, that all changed when Nev and Kamie showed up.
“I wanted to know if they knew something. I thought they knew more than they did but they knew as much as I did,” Sham explained.
In case you’re wondering how Sham got catfished in the first place, as she explained to me, she didn’t even know how to reverse image search and didn’t know it was a thing. She said, “I’m a little bit old school, I don’t even do that ‘Tik-Tack’ thing.” She meant TikTok.
Major spoilers ahead so if you haven’t seen the show, stop reading now so you can go watch it and come back.
Sham and Michael are friends in real life and had a falling out
It should surprise no one (except Sham) that her prince was not a prince at all. It was a catfish and the person behind the ruse was quite shocking to see.
It turns out that it was Sham’s estranged friend Mike, who admittedly was getting a bit of revenge on his old friend. The pair had known each other for upwards of 20 years and through many ups and downs.
But, after the latest down, Mike took things into his own hands and invented Phillip. For Sham, Phillip was a dream come true, a blessing… an answer to prayer.
“When you have a friend of 20 years that’s like your family and when I saw Mike, I was pissed and angry and ready to rip his throat out as I was, some part of me was happy to see him and some part of me was relieved that it wasn’t some random stalker. I was so relieved and so happy to see Mike but at the same time the humiliation of showing the world not just how naive I am but how desperate I felt. Embarrassed. I was embarrassed.”
That embarrassment and anger caused Sham to throw Mike in the pool, which is the part we didn’t see. What we did see, however, was a major act of forgiveness on Sham’s part as the two old friends reunited and made amends right there with Nev and Kamie as witnesses. It was a great feel-good moment and a rarity for a show like this one. And it was real.
For now, Sham hasn’t given up looking for love and she knows her worth. “I’m still very much in the market for a prince so what I’m going to do is post my Cash App and the highest bidder gets to marry me,” she said without batting an eyelash.
Catfish: The TV Show airs on Tuesdays at 8/7c on MTV.