Reflections On All The Pageantry

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?


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.





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.

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  1. Hey sweet lady. I haven’t visited your blog (or any blogs :) for a while. I loved reading your post as usual but I REALLY loved watching the roach dance on the right hand side of the page! LOL :)
    Happy New Year girl, don’t you have a book coming soon?

  2. Amen on all accounts. And perhaps there is no greater talent than watching a pageant with unbridled enthusiasm and knowing the correct pimento cheese sandwiches and box of wine to serve for the occasion. We all have our gifts, you know.

  3. Ruth Abel says:

    Your enthusiasm and deep-down-mirth inducing youtube clips have inspired such curiosity in my soul. I am a seeker of all things glorious and I am determined to watch the pagent live next year. Alas, I was unfortunate enough to miss out this year. Hoping that youtube will serve me well so that I can see what I was deprived of!

  4. I’ve been trying to find the ballet to Journey. You always seem to be able to find anything you want from years gone by. Any idea why I can’t get this one to come up?

    I so wanted Miss South Carolina to win. It’s been way too many years since that’s happened. (My mama was not happy that Miss New York beat her out. Not one little bit, which is funny because she doesn’t normally watch much television.) But I’m with you. It was delightful this year.

  5. My favorite moment was when Brooke Burke stepped into the Cone of Silence. THE CONE OF SILENCE.

    Also, the talent competition made me so happy. And what made me even happier was that my mom called me first thing Sunday morning to tell me, very seriously, that she thinks baton twirling should make a comeback.

    Can’t say I disagree.

  6. I actually was not satisfied with the Miss America pageant this year. A few of the talents that made it into the top 10 were awful. The girl who did what was supposed to be an interpretive dance looked like an amateur little girl & just leapt across the stage and did chest thrusts the whole time, and the only vocal performance that did well was the one who sang from Les Miserables. The other two vocal performances were just not good. Especially the Rascal Flatts song. My mother agreed. Maybe I’m more versed in song & dance than some, but those three were awful. I loved the tap dancing, though & I thought Iowa did an amazing job, but she really messed herself up with her answer, which made me a bit sad.

    I LOVED Texas’ baton performance. (& it’s not just because I’m a Texan, either!) :) Though, I was a little upset that NY won it. ;)

  7. I didn’t watch most of the pageant this year. I had a touch of a migraine and sort of forgot about it. I KNOW! When I did finally flip to that channel, the baton twirler was just starting up, and my first thought was “SUZANNE SUGARBAKER”. My second thought was, “Oh, I bet Boomama is beside herself!”

    I didn’t have my phone with me that night either, and when I picked it up the next morning, I sort of freaked out a little when I saw I had 16 text messages. Then I remembered…Miss America…Boomama…Twitter. Then I decided maybe I need a life! :)

  8. I did not watch it but I was thrilled to hear there was baton twirlling!! I feel like there is a lack of baton twirlling these days. Santa brought my 7 year old a baton for Christmas this year because every girl like me growing up in the 70’s had one. Our small town just held it’s pageant and they listed them in the paper and one of them was a baton twirler. I squealed with delite and my husband thought I was insane!! We need more Suzanne Sugerbaker’s!!

  9. I loved this year! Though I was just about as uncomfortable as those poor girls when they started passing them all donuts!

  10. I miss certain things from the years past…
    • The Miss America song for the winner! Hello?! Where was it?!
    • The glass case where the top 3 got the same question but they couldn’t hear each other’s answers.
    • TOP 16? Really? I like the top 10.

    I did enjoy this year… especially the ahmm… vocals of the night. HA! And my favorite part was seeing all the tweets and thanking the good Lord that I wasn’t the only one thinking those things! =)

  11. I keep re-watching bits and pieces, too! The background dancing (shuffle, snap, repeat) during the intros is enough to sustain my pageant-high for at least a year! And I know I am a bit biased being from Oklahoma, but I just need to re-watch her tap routine a few more times. It was enough to make me stand up and clap!

    Oh, it was all so good. My grandma was a pageant lover and I know she would be tickled to death with the goodness of Miss America 2013!

  12. I just found your blog and I really enjoy it! You are an excellent writer and I love the fact that you watch the same TV shows (unapologetically) that I do.

  13. I didn’t watch the pageant but oh did I have fun reading all the comments on your watch part post! Hilarious:)

  14. I have to say that the baton twirler probably paid for her college education with her talent, so God bless her for that alone. I had a sorority sister who did (therefore, so did you, Boo). And I was so relieved to learn that Miss NY was originally from Alabama!

  15. Kimberly/OKC says:

    Have you ever heard of this? I had a friend who used to have Miss America Watch Parties where everyone invited wore an evening gown etc. She served appetizers and punch and had Barbies in evening gowns placed on the food table and a display on the TV with a few Ken’s around too! Everyone watched the pageant , voted on who they thought would win, and she gave a few prizes out…super fun! Have you ever done this? Would you?

  16. I wish I could get interested in the pageant again. I quit watching when I heard the results on the radio on the way home from Birmingham and then went home and watched it “live” on the tv. Of course, this was years and years ago so it surely has changed but it left a sour taste in my mouth.

  17. I was in a wedding Saturday night (we couldn’t believe she scheduled her nuptials for Miss America weekend, being a former Dale County (AL) Junior Miss and a judge in both the Alabama and Georgia Junior Miss programs) but I was tickled that Miss New York won, solely for the fact that I know her mother and that Mallory is an Auburn girl and a Pi Beta Phi!

  18. A few things. While the pageant was on, I was getting my Valentine’s craft on. And while spray painting some cut-up toilet paper rolls outside, T yelled “You have to come see this! It’s like an SNL skit!” It was the Journey ballet. Also, I hate to point this out, but Monday on The Bachelor, Chris said “supposebly” instead of the correct word. Oh my I felt bad for him.

  19. I love that you highlighted the Pageant. I have not watched in years. It is not my thing. But I am glad that you enjoyed it.

  20. i love the verse you chose for Beth Moore’s Scripture team! :-)

  21. Becky in 'Bama says:

    Ah-hem… ALWAYS watch Miss America (my daughter was a 4 year competitor in the Miss AL system) and I’m crying out that Sat. night was a bummer/fiasco for us “purists.” The Miss Alabama system produces more talent in its pinkie than this two hour wanna-be. I love the word ‘lackluster’ in this case. I agree with one comment on here: where in the heck was “thehrr–reee she is Miss America” ? Every year the organizers try to tweak the pageant. Some things don’t really need tweaking. Okay – I feel better.