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Instant Influencer: James Charles’s beauty vlogging competition is as absorbing as it is transparent

Finally, a reality show in which contestants don’t have to feign interest in finding love and can be honest about the end goal

Instant Influencer, a new competition to find YouTube’s next viral make-up vlogger, might be 2020’s most transparent reality show. Even for those completely horrified by every second word in that sentence, it’s a fascinating insight into a billion-dollar industry – both a completely vapid and endlessly interesting watch, bingeable in a night. Forget MasterChef: who knew video editing to a time limit could be so suspenseful?

For once, contestants don’t have to feign interest in finding love and can be honest about the end goal: selling #spon on social media. Again and again across its four episodes and without any hint of self-awareness, the six contestants say they need to prove their talents as an influencer and an artist, always in that order. It would be depressing if it wasn’t so absorbing.

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