TLC has a new show, Miss America Reality Check. All 52 Miss America contestants are put in one house and undergo complete makeovers. Not because they are ugly (well except maybe for Miss Idaho), but rather the traditional look of Miss America is outdated. The goal is to bring Miss America into modern times.
The host is Michael Urie, Marc St. James of Ugly Betty. He is the perfect host for this show. Why? Because on Ugly Betty he is the right hand man to Wilhemenia Slater, played by Vanessa L. Williams. To me she will always be Miss America 1984, despite the fact that she gave up her crown. I wonder how she feels about him working with the Miss America people. I so want him to mention her.
At the start of the show, all 52 women arrive at the house. They are shown clips from on the street interviews of people regarding their impressions of Miss America. The overall thought was that all the contestants are plastic, and the pageant is outdated. It needs to be modernized and the glamor brought back to it. After the women see these clips, they are visibly shaken. All the hairspray must have gotten to them. They were all shocked to learn what people think of the pageant. What kind of bubble have they been living in? I can understand Miss Oklahoma or Miss Texas not knowing this, or any other contestant from a big pageant state, but you would think women from states where pageants are not a way of life would have some clue.
Next Michael brought on Stacy and Clinton from What Not to Wear to go through each woman's suitcases to dissect their outfits. The amount of sequins they saw was blinding. Pretty much each contestant had packed similarly, showing again the Miss America is not original anymore, that they all drank the Kool-Aid.
The women got split into 6 teams based on things they had in common:
Blue: States with the most wins
Green: States with recent winners (in the past decade)
Light Blue: "always a bridesmaid." These women are from states that have never had a winner, but many second place winners.
Red: Most winning combo - brown hair and brown eyes (who knew?)
Purple: Oldest contestants
Pink: Underdogs - no winners or runners up, ever.
From the get go, the women are told, "less is more" yet when they show up the next day to what they know will be an athletic challenge, some are in full make-up. For this challenge, each team has to run an obstacle course, put together a map of the U.S.A., find their state flag (all of the flags were lined up on poles so they were waving in the wind) and then run with the flag to the finish line. The first team to finish won first rights to the showers - there are only 7 showers for all of the women. The purple team is in the lead until the flag portion, when Miss Pennsylvania could not ID her state flag. I don't think I could pick out NY's flag, but then again, I am not representing my state in a national competition. When this is your job, you should know what your state flag looks like. The Light Blue team won.
Next the women attend a dinner party. Miss Rhode Island said, "I hope it has nothing to do with dinner etiquette, because I failed that class in college." OHMYGOD!!! First of all, this is a class offered in college? And secondly, she failed it?!? What the f_ _ _?!? The women are told there will be a special guest at the party. When they arrived for the party (again some are totally overly made-up and have total pageant hair - Miss Idaho) they learned the "guest" is controversy. There are envelopes containing controversial topics on each table and the women needed to talk about them. Miss D.C. said, "I was expecting Vanessa Williams..." Did she really think Vanessa would be asked to do something involving Miss America? The advisers for the show wanted to see how these women really spoke, not prepared pageant answers, but really who they thought and expressed themselves. The topics included pre-marital sex, gun control and same-sex marriage. Miss Colorado was in the gun control group and revealed that her brother was shot in the Columbine massacre. He survived, but is now handicapped. In the same-sex marriage discussion, Miss North Carolina said that she could not condone it. Miss Vermont however, knocked it out of the park. She said, "how would you feel if you were told because you are blond you can't do something, but you can do this, which is almost the same thing, but not quite?" Miss Vermont totally gets the separate but equal thing between Civil Unions and Marriage is crap. On of the advisers comments that Miss Vermont personifies what the pageant needs to become, more modern.
At the end, the 3 top and 3 bottom women are announced. It is not as if anyone gets booted from the house, but it shows the women how they are faring in the advisers eyes for getting what the point of the show is.
One final point, for the first time in Miss America history, the audience will get to vote for one of the women to be in the top 16 finalists. 15 will be judge selected as usual, but the 16th is audience chosen. To vote go to http://www.TLC.com/missamerica.