Can you hear that? It’s the sound of people around the country cheering as the demise of Josh “The Seafood King” Meeuwissen played out on MKR.
Tonight he and his put-upon wife Amy dished up a disastrous ultimate instant restaurant meal which saw them finally exit the competition.
And while it may have been a moment for celebration – because, let’s face it, he’s possibly the most objectionable reality TV contestant of all time – it still managed to leave me with a slightly unpleasant taste in my mouth.
For weeks now, we’ve watched Josh and his bad behaviour dominate screen time. Can anyone remember anything that was served up over that time? I’m struggling to do so. Yet I can remember in minute detail all the horrendous things that have come out of Josh’s mouth.
From calling a fellow competitor a slut to denigrating the skills of the women around him (mostly his wife, but Sarah Tully and Court Hall-Eastley also came under some pretty consistent fire) he has raised my hackles again and again.
And while we saw plenty of off-camera talk from the contestants lambasting his behaviour, it was a rare occasion he was called out in the moment. In fact, if memory serves me, it was only in the first week of his time on the show that he was publicly questioned over his dodgy antics. And even then he managed to smirk his way through it and shrug off any criticism with ease.
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There were no consequences for Josh’s bad behaviour. Instead we saw perfectly nice (albeit not particularly skilled) teams go home while Josh was left to smugly gloat over their failures.
I’d almost be tempted to forgive that if he’d been a half decent cook. But Josh and Amy didn’t appear to serve up one decent dish over that same time period. So what was that attitude for?
And so we came to tonight’s epic failure from the WA seafood lovers. At first, I was heartened to hear the conversation at the dinner table turn to his appalling behaviour throughout the competition.
The entire group agreed that he had crossed the line multiple times. But then came the bit when they said it was “just Josh” – an excuse that has seen him skate through unscathed for weeks.
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As steam started coming out of my ears again, luckily in stepped Court to say what should have been voiced on screens moons ago.
“I actually don’t like, ‘Just Josh’,” she said.
“It’s either bad behaviour for everyone or it’s not. It’s either acceptable or it’s not. And that’s why I don’t get on the ‘Just Josh’ thing.”
Hallelujah, I thought. Finally someone is stepping up to the plate and saying that excusing bad behaviour for just one person is detrimental. Spelling it out for all those watching at home and thinking it’s okay to belittle women. It’s okay to be a sore loser. It’s okay to let your ego do the talking.
But even as I cheered – and even more so when Pete and Manu finally gave the couple frank feedback on their food – I still don’t think the show went far enough in giving Josh his just deserts.
While the contestants may have sat and discussed his behaviour, where were the judges? Those two men had an opportunity to step up to the plate and admonish him publicly for his behaviour. Yet they were mysteriously absent from the conversation we’ve waited months to have happen on screens.
And while the behaviour now has been called out and the pair have been dismissed from the competition, why did it take so long for it to do so? We’ve only a couple of weeks left now until the series leaves screens.
Because it really has been the “Josh” show all season. And to get the audience invested in the remaining contestants is going to be a big ask.
I don’t know if producers were behind the fact that Josh stayed so long on the show. Part of me suspects so, purely because he so heavily dominated screen time.
But I also suspect those same producers would be kicking themselves for it now. Because even if the ratings hold up, I also suspect that they’ll be facing an uphill battle for the next season.
Josh has tarnished the format – the show is supposed to be about ordinary people doing extraordinary things and achieving their dreams. Not objectionable people doing despicable things and being rewarded amply for it.
Luckily, MasterChef Australia is about to return and reignite my passion for a feel-good cooking show.
Until then, I hope that the semi-finals on MKR finally see some great food and great behaviour celebrated. Because that’s what the show’s fans signed up for when this season began.