Josh Must Win’s biggest problem? He’s not really an underdog at all…


Josh Must Win’s biggest problem? He’s not really an underdog at all…

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Josh Must Win misses the mark despite its best intentions (Picture: E4)

Nick Grimshaw, Vicky Pattison, Pete Wicks and Amber Gill are ‘throwing out the rule book’ of reality TV in E4’s The Underdog: Josh Must Win. At least that’s the goal.

Grimmy is a reality TV addict, the others are reality TV royalty.

Vicky Pattison is a diamond in whatever show she’s been thrown into, winning I’m A Celebrity, making the final of Celebrity MasterChef and being arguably the most established cast member from Geordie Shore. Amber Rose Gill is one of the most popular Love Island winners ever and Pete Wicks successfully made the difficult transition from being a ‘bad boy’ on ITV2’s The Only Way Is Essex to being universally loved for just being a really nice guy.

Together it’s their job to manipulate a popularity contest packed with influencers and beauty queens to make sure ab-less amateur wrestler Josh becomes the unlikely champion.

Josh is everything his competition is not.

He doesn’t buy designer clothes and he has 20 followers on Instagram.

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More importantly though, he has zero confidence, calls himself the least good-looking person in the group and just cannot stand up for himself in a room packed with egos that would rival a Kardashian.

Within the context of the show, he’s a clear outsider and his rivals knows it.

Thankfully though, he has the team of professionals in popularity in his corner – even if he doesn’t know it.

There are parts to love about Josh Must Win.

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For a start there’s Josh. For anyone watching who wouldn’t fit on Love Island, we can all see ourselves in Josh, being the odd one out in a room full of people we’re told are much cooler and more beautiful than us.

Josh, however, is singled out by the others and it’s clear his team of reality TV fairy godparents have a much bigger hill to climb than they imagined.

Josh is supposed to be the ‘underdog’… but is he? (Picture: E4)

Said team are also a dynamite combo. Reality stars get a bad name but Vicky, Pete and Amber are all an exception to the vacuous, shallow produce of Love Island, Ex on The Beach and various other series which have caused much more harm than good with touched up selfies and promotion of toxic behavior.

They’ve all gained popularity and longevity by being smart, empathetic forces for good and it’s clear in Josh Must Win they have golden hearts and their intentions are genuinely kind and sincere. And they can be great crack.

Grimmy too has become synonymous with being ‘cool’, as notorious for the names in his phone book as he is for the shows he’s presented but he’s also proof you can hang out with with popular kids and just be a warm, funny guy who just gets on with everybody.

Still, even with the best intentions, the premise of Josh Must Win feels a little aimless and condescending.

Socially awkward Jordan won Big Brother just six months ago (Picture: James Veysey/Shutterstock)

To suggest someone who doesn’t fit into beauty standards or what is deemed popular needs help from a team of people who have built careers partly from their looks feels like it’s part of the problem it’s trying to resolve. At least I think that’s what it’s trying to resolve; what it’s actually trying to achieve exactly I’m not entirely sure.

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With the return of Big Brother, the ultimate popularity contest where anyone can win regardless of looks and followers, Josh Must Win just feels irrelevant.

Jordan Sangh was essentially a ‘Josh’, the socially awkward hero who beat the typically popular kids to win Big Brother just six months ago and it didn’t feel like a particularly ground-breaking moment then.

If anything, Josh screams a potential Big Brother winner – he’s a loveable hun who would be wildly popular on many other reality shows and ticks every box to be adored by the public.

In many other series where contestants are judged on popularity he wouldn’t be the underdog at all.

There is fun to be had in Josh Must Win but I’m not sure what there is to take away from it other than a normal guy can’t win a reality TV show without the help of prettier people when we know, without a doubt, they can.

The Underdog: Josh Must Win launches tonight at 9pm on E4.

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MORE : Nick Grimshaw: ‘I’ll always probably feel like an outsider’

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