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: It may be an outdated and sexist spectacle, but that didn’t stop millions from tuning into the annual Miss USA pageant last night. The two-hour showcase progressed pretty steadily, as the group of 51 contestants was trimmed down to 16, and then 10, and then 5 before the final placements were announced. There were few newsworthy incidents during the pageant (no viral videos on controversy this year), but there were certainly some highs and lows…
LOW: What was with those hideous outfits the 51 contestants were wearing in the opening number? As the top 16 finalists were announced one by one, and the camera panned through the crowd of hopefuls, I had to keep my gag reflex in check at the sight of rainbow rhinestones, shiny cropped motorcycle jackets, and neon fascinators. Clearly these women were forced into wearing ensembles from one of the show’s sponsors, but why did they all have to look like the ’80s hand-me-down Barbies I had as a kid? Talk about adding insult to injury for those 35 rejects.
HIGH: The Miss USA pageant has had its fair share of hosts throughout the years, but it’s been a long time since the show had hosts who were genuinely likeable, fun and of-the-moment. Co-hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic aren’t decades-past-due D-list celebrities desperate for a gig as past hosts have been – they’re current stars with great personalities and a solid fan base. I enjoyed their chemistry together.
LOW: Not so great were the fashion commentators, Jeannie Mai of Style Network and Kelly Osbourne of E!’s Fashion Police. I never understand why Kelly, who is rarely on the Best Dressed list, is qualified to judge others’ style, but in all fairness, she did an OK job last night. Jeannie’s boring and bland live commentary of the contestants’ wardrobe choices, however, was awful. It added nothing to the experience but noise.
HIGH: The finalists included a mix of ages (one contestant was 27, practically unheard of in pageants!) and a mix of ethnicities. Miss USA goes on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, and for the first time in a while, a majority of the finalists had a Universe-ready look that was exotic and worldly.
LOW: I felt like we barely got to know the finalists, and we didn’t hear them speak until the final half-hour of the show. It would be nice if they’d peppered in more pre-interview segments of the finalists throughout the show, as previous pageants have done in the past. I didn’t feel emotionally tied to any of the women.
HIGH: The evening gown competition was fun because there was a mix of gown styles, including Miss California’s sparkly body-hugging mini, Miss Georgia’s sleek cut-out dress, and Miss Ohio’s classic canary yellow ballgown.
LOW: It’s nothing new, but wow, was there a lot of product placement! Half of the pageant seemed like pre-shot segments made entirely for the benefit of product placement.
HIGH: Every year, there’s one question that causes controversy, and it’s usually pertaining to a hot-button topic with political or religious meaning. This year that question was very timely, following a recent news story: Was it fair to allow transgendered women to compete with natural-born women? Miss Rhode Island didn’t falter during her eloquent and crowd-pleasing answer: She acknowledged why some might be adverse to it, but said it was fair. She really proved how poised she was, because she didn’t show any hesitation regarding the difficult question. And it got her a huge roar from the crowd!
LOW: Of course, not everyone rocked the final question segment. Miss Ohio was one of my favorites throughout the competition, but she showed her lack of smarts when asked to name an example of the representation of women in movies or TV. She used Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman as an example of how a woman in a bad place made a change for herself and overcame obstacles. Did she not remember that Vivian was a prostitute?
HIGH: Miss Rhode Island wins! She was not only the most poised with the best answer at the end, but throughout, Miss Rhode Island seemed the most bubbly and fun of the contestants. Plus, she’s a Dean’s List student at Boston University and a cellist who’s played with professional symphonies. Beauty and brains for the win.