Monday, January 07, 2008

Miss America Gets a 'Reality Check'

By LillyKat / PTR Staff Writer

"This is not your mother’s Miss America."

Thank God.

It’s about time.

Given we’ve entered our writer-strike-shortened, going-going-gone phase of most of this season’s regular primetime favorites, I tuned into the premiere of TLC’s Miss America: Reality Check hosted by Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie this past Friday … and, I have to say, it’s worth a second look.

Now, I have to preface ALL of this by saying: I’m not a big fan of “reality” television.

In fact, if PTR Fave Kathryn Morris and I were sharing a Tivo, we’d likely fight over its programming given her appreciation for certain reality series and my … well, dislike for them. What can I say … something about the absurd voyeurism of certain shows that shall not be named just doesn’t do it for me.

That said, I occasionally tune into a reality series when it a) strikes me as different; b) seems to be not necessarily poking fun at every nuance of human behavior; c) seems to be making a constructive rather than destructive statement; d) seems to offer a challenge to not only the people on the show but the people watching the show.

Miss America: Reality Check does just that.

The basic premise: All 52 contestants of this year’s Miss America Pageant live in a house together for four weeks to essentially forget everything they’ve ever learned about being “pageant” girls, and instead get a huge makeover of not only themselves but of their understanding and perception of how the general public perceives the long-dated pageant.

And boy, a lot of us see the darn thing as dated.

I confess I’m not all that keen looking to a beauty pageant to give us the vision of the quintessential American woman, especially given this particular pageant seems a relic of its former glory days.

But interestingly, it’s those glory days that are being called into question and challenged on the show. That is, many average Americans feel the pageants of yesteryear actually stood for something. More importantly, the women stood for something. As such, families sat down to watch the pageant not to mock or make fun of the girls, but to admire those participating as some of the best America had to offer.

Now, I’m not saying we all need to run out and watch the pageant, or that Miss America is the only version of an American woman. But the show’s challenge to the relic the pageant has become – with women wandering around looking unlike anything resembling a human, and instead, resembling robots complete with equally robotic intelligence – is an interesting premise.

The truth is, these girls are not robotic, they are not shells of personality, they are not just Vaseline and hairspray and make-up and ball gowns and swimsuits. Some are pretty darn sharp. Pretty darn funny. Pretty darn interesting.

And there may, in fact, still truly be something to being Miss America.

New episodes of Miss America: Reality Check air Fridays at 10 p.m. on TLC, with repeats scheduled throughout the week. It is only a four-part series scheduled to wrap up on January 25th right before the actual pageant (scheduled for January 26th, whereby for the first time ever, the American public will vote for the winner). You can visit the official site for all the additional info.



suekola44 said...

I'm very surprised to learn this show is worth watching. I guess you can't judge a show by its title!

TVFan said...

I saw Miss Utah on some news program because she is in the military. She has actually been in combat. I thought that was fascinating. Plus, I noticed that she wasn't the typical pageant girl. It's nice to know that the pageant is trying to show a more well-rounded side to its contestants. Interesting concept for a show.

LillyKat said...

I was really surprised by this show. Of course, this week's ep could be a complete flop in which case I'll have to eat my words. LOL! But I, too, was really surprised by the likes of Miss Utah, or to hear Miss Vermont talk about how average she feels and/or is she really worthy of being the face of Miss America. Interesting stuff.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased that someone is trying to make these nimwits look like young women of today and not some bubble headed bimbo. Some still look old and not twentysomething except for Miss Alaska. She dresses like most twentysomethings I know. For the first time in years I am going to watch and see how they do. I wish they were able to answer some very simple questions. If they could be beautiful and smart...that would be great.