Yesterday morning, when I was simultaneously getting dressed for church and re-watching the Miss America talent competition, my husband walked past me, turned to see what was on the TV, and said, “You really enjoyed that pageant this year, didn’t you?”
And my response?
“OH. YOU HAVE NO IDEA.”
I’ve watched Miss America all of my life, and I can honestly say that I don’t know when I’ve loved it more than I did this past Saturday night. The pageant seems comfortable in its skin again, a welcome development after all those years when they might as well have hung a banner that said, “THESE WOMEN REALLY ARE SMART! WE PROMISE!” across the back of the stage. For awhile Miss America couldn’t decide what it wanted to be (remember when they set up a phone number so that people could vote for or against a swimsuit competition?), but it seems like they’ve finally figured it out. And Miss America seems content to be, well, Miss America. Go figure.
This year’s pageant wasn’t perfect, of course – I could’ve lived without that camera angle that swooped in on the contestants’ behinds during the swimsuit competition, and I’m not at all interested in the contestants’ views on what’s “sexy” – but this year’s pageant was fun. Granted, it would have been even more fun if there had been an opening number with the Miss America Dancers (I miss the Miss America Dancers), but we still had punny intros with some occasionally awkward choreography. I’ll take it.
Certainly I understand that the world faces far more pressing issues than whether Miss New York or Miss South Carolina took the crown this past Saturday night, but every once in awhile two-hours-o-entertainment feels like the cure for whatever ails you. And nobody asked me, of course, but I think there were several reasons why this year’s pageant was so much fun to watch.
1. Chris Harrison is perfection as the host. – Nobody navigates the very fine line between sincere and cheesy better than he does. He’s enthusiastic without being obnoxious, and he really does seem to have some interest in and compassion for the contestants. His years on The Bachelor have served him well in that regard.
2. The “reality TV” element works well. – I’ve never been a fan of implementing gimmicks in the hopes getting higher ratings. But in this reality TV culture, stuff like giving the judges 60 seconds to add an additional semi-finalist – or putting Brooke Burke in “the cone of silence” so she can share behind-the-scenes info – adds a little intrigue and also shows that the folks at Miss America aren’t taking themselves too seriously.
3. We got to see ten talents this year. – For the last few years I’ve felt like Miss America was trying to downplay the talent a little bit, focusing more on the Q&A and trying to feature everyone’s platforms. But this year we were back to ten talents, and OH, THEY WERE GLORIOUS. There was a baton twirler, there were some earnest vocal performances, there was an interpretative ballet set to a Journey song (hallelujah), and there were even three tap dances.
THREE TAP DANCES.
As I said on Twitter Saturday night, the Lord is so good to us.
4. There was an Amway Changing Tent. – Okay. I get that the Amway Changing Tent didn’t really enhance the competition. But I was so tickled by the effort to brand every single aspect of the pageant (“It’s the Catalina Miss America Swimsuit Collection!”), and the fact that they made the girls change in a tent and Amway sponsored that?
I love America.
And also: I have decided that I’m going to start calling my closet the Amway Changing Tent. It’s catchy, don’t you think?
5. Social media adds such a delightful element to the pageant proceedings. – When I was growing up, I thought that there was nothing better than a pageant. But oh have mercy, that’s only because I didn’t know about the wonder that is a pageant plus Twitter. Or a pageant plus blog comments. Because no kidding: I laughed until I wheezed when I was reading people’s comments and tweets this past Saturday night. A pageant naturally lends itself to commentary, and if I can’t be in Mama’s living room with all my female family members, social media really is the next best thing. Delightful.
So there you have it: a list that proves I’ve given the 2013 Miss America pageant WAY too much thought. It made me smile so much, though. It was old school and modern all at the same time, and I enjoyed the fire of out it. In case you hadn’t picked up on that yet.
I think I’ll go work on my tap dancing skills now.
While watching The Bachelor, of course.
I think that Miss America would want it that way.