Miss America's 100th Anniversary Broadcast Was A Historic Disaster

Miss America and the world of pageantry in general have been maligned for decades, and after last night's historic 100th Anniversary showing, it feels like a sign from the universe that the pageant needs to pack up its tiaras and close up shop. The Miss America pageant, err, competition, was given a massive makeover in 2018 in an attempt to revamp the program (which continues to be one of the largest providers of scholarship assistance to young women in the country) for the modern era. Labeled Miss America 2.0, changes included the elimination of the swimsuit portion, a switch from calling the women "contestants" to "candidates," a looser definition on what is required to be worn during the evening gown portion, a bigger emphasis on scoring in the talent portion, and cosmetic changes like a redesign of all state sashes. Unfortunately, these changes didn't help much in the way of declining ratings, and in its 100th year, the Miss America competition was dropped from network TV and instead moved to exclusive streaming on Peacock.

The lack of a cable TV production was painfully obvious, as the entire broadcast was an absolute disaster from start to finish. Emma Broyles of Alaska was crowned the centennial winner, a first for the state, and an inspiring win for the woman who openly spoke of her late-in-life diagnosis of ADHD, but every single aspect of the production was an abject failure. What should have been a historic night will forever be plagued by a downright embarrassing display.

Everything Was Wrong. Every. Dang. Thing.

Light cues were missed repeatedly, leaving contestants in the dark as cameras returned from commercial; viewers could hear the rustling of microphones being removed from outfits as they weren't turned off in a timely manner; underscoring music frequently overpowered anyone speaking; the sound of the timer during on-stage question was impossible to hear so the hosts frequently had to verbally cut off candidates giving responses; the slideshow featuring the 100 years of Miss Americas moved by so quickly the list of names was illegible; whatever teleprompter was set up for the hosts, former Miss Americas Nina Davuluri and Ericka Dunlap, was off-time which led to the two frequently scrambling to cover dead-air and most egregiously, nearly missing the presentation of the parade of living Miss Americas. This was legitimately the worst live production I've ever seen and I did musicals in a high school whose auditorium was an abandoned gym on a shut-down campus with a stage on it.

Miss Alabama's talent was skipped at first due to technical issues with her violin, but when she was brought on stage for competition, half of the piece was impossible to hear, so audiences essentially watched her pantomime playing the violin to the backing track. Fortunately, they let her go again after the commercial break, and Lauren Bradford was eventually awarded 1st runner-up.

Everything that Could Go Wrong, Went Wrong

When the broadcast began, the camera frequently focused on unlit or empty areas of the stage, and Ericka Dunlap was absolutely ad-libbing with the audience, unaware that the show had officially begun. Dunlap and Davuluri were definitely unsure of who was to speak and when, likely due to the constant technical difficulties throwing them both off of their game. Microphones were constantly cued late, meaning judges, hosts, and candidates were all unable to be heard, and judges had to correct the hosts of their names on more than one occasion.

In an attempt to attract younger audiences, Miss America partnered with TikTok, and frequently used videos the candidates made as transitions between events. Unfortunately, the transitions were choppy and out of sync, making the footage presented to get to know the candidates next to impossible to follow, extremely difficult to read if text was included, and presented with the smoothness of trying to rollerblade down a gravel road without wheels.

Regardless of your feelings on the Miss America Organization (and as a former 15-year veteran of the pageant industry, I sure have a lot of them!), every single contestant deserved better than the hot-ass mess they tried to pass off as a "production" last night. It is statistically more likely that a man will play in the Super Bowl than a woman will get the chance to compete at Miss America, and last night's show was a blatant sign of disrespect to all who worked so hard to make it to that stage.