I finally found time to put out a Miss America Recap!
That’s a lie.
I procrastinated the crap out of this one
Yes, life is busy in the fall around here. But honestly? I just couldn’t figure out how to get ALL that I wanted to say into the recap post! So I wrote 90% of it, and then ignored it.
So I finally got to finishing it this week!
All in all, it was a great trip to Atlantic City.
We had absolutely perfect weather, and I was able to meet Miss America friends, fans, and titleholders from all across the country. Atlantic City really rallies around the competition like no other city would.
While I had way more to write about than you’d ever care to read, I decided the best way to do this recap would be to go bullet-style. So here we go!
- Dena Blizzard continues to be a great prelim emcee. She’s funny (obviously), sharp, and great with impromptu situations. Keep it up, One Funny Mother!
- It’s very eye-opening and telling to see the contestants compete before finals. I could tell that Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas weren’t standing out as much as I had expected they would, and I suspected Minnesota may have an uphill climb despite her talent win. The ten contestants who really stood out to me in prelims were Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah – all making the top fifteen except one. So what we saw onstage during prelims was truly reflected in who we saw advancing. So why didn’t I do better at my forecast? More on that later.
- With Louisiana’s double prelim win, we only had five preliminary winners to pick from, and a whopping THREE didn’t even make the top fifteen! I don’t think anyone saw that coming! This tells me that preliminary judges were awarding points based on each phase of competition instead of “throwing points” at girls who they loved in interview. The fact that we saw two talent winners left sitting proves that point.
- For preliminary evenings, you always have some element of filler time. Thursday we got to hear a lengthy farewell from Savvy, which I really loved! I wish all of America saw more of that, as it is likely the only time most people even pay attention to Miss America. I know television is tight – but one thing Miss USA is doing right that MAO hasn’t fully grasped is recognizing and involving the predecessor.
- I loved the opening on the Boardwalk with Savvy and the contestant intros that followed. They abandoned the usual, cutesy intros in favor of highlighting the educational achievements and aspirations of the girls. It was a nod toward the accomplishments of the titleholders – a theme we see carried throughout the telecast. They also weren’t dancing awkwardly in a line during the intros, and each girl got her moment individually. Good tweaks in production this year!
- Once we got down to it, those top fifteen names sure go by quickly! For me, the biggest shocks getting through were New Mexico and Alaska, and by the looks on their faces, I think they would agree, haha! You have to love those “unexpected” reactions!
- I wasn’t shocked that Florida and Minnesota were left out as prelim winners, but I think most people (including me) had Utah pegged for a finals spot after prelims. There are always those mysteries, and she was sadly one of them.
- I’m not a fan of taking what limited TV time you have and giving a decent chunk of it to a sponsor, but that’s just me 😉
- Why is it called People’s Choice if the judges also have a say in who gets the 15th spot? That seems misleading…
- My biggest surprises? Iowa and Utah not making the initial cut. New Mexico and Alaska making top fifteen. Georgia and Pennsylvania getting cut when they did. Virginia and DC advancing as far as they did.
Swimsuit & Evening Gown
- Poor Illinois, she really didn’t have any time to get changed for swimsuit! I hate that they did commercial cuts so often during the top fifteen announcements.
- As much as I loved North Dakota in prelims, and had her in my final seven, I admittedly thought she could be cut after swim suit or evening gown. I was thrilled that both judging panels seemed to be rewarding fitness and curviness over thinness. Yes, a few very thin girls made it through (New Jersey), but she was also extremely fit. I didn’t really see anyone who seemed unhealthy.
- There were a few girls whose energy in swim suit was a bit over-the-top, and we saw some of them get cut. There is a line between confidence and overdoing it, which can appear desperate.
- I actually thought, based on the “traditional” expectation of pageant contestants (tall, thin, modelesque), that Georgia hands down won swimsuit and gown. How she didn’t advance to talent is a mystery, and America missed the chance to see one of the most beautiful dancers we’ve seen in recent years. I have to wonder if her age (19) and probable immature interview cost her the advancement. In a year when both panels of judges chose intellect to reign supreme, it is pretty hard to compete with a Brown graduate who is also accepted to Notre Dame law school. Nonetheless, I thought she deserved a spot in the finals.
Talent & Onstage Questions
- Overall, we had stronger talents in the top ten that I think we have had lately. With the exception of two, I think all were decently strong both technically and in terms of entertainment value. In prelims, we did see technical talent being rewarded, but unfortunately we didn’t see Minnesota or Utah on Finals night.
- I wish they would play snippets of the non-finalist talent winners, because it would give the audience at home a broader view of just how exceptionally talented some of these women are.
- I was sad to see Pennsylvania and Alabama go – I was surprised DC advanced, although her personality during onstage questions was great.
- Boy, Louisiana got thrown to the wolves, huh? Not only was it a new, unknown realm of questioning, but she had a really stupid question thrust at her with 15 seconds to answer. I also disliked Alabama’s question (hello show-plugging!) but she handled it very well.
- While all five finalists answered their political questions very well, this is where North Dakota and Missouri truly set themselves apart from the pack. They have a natural presence, they think on their feet, and they provide an actual answer or opinion without offending.
- It was so interesting to see that none of the top four contestants were from the South. Nothing against southern states! But the traditional “powerhouse” states were nowhere to be seen, and we had two east coast and two midwest contestants in the end. I love when the unexpected happens – and I am glad to say I had Cara on my radar all week.
- I was seated in the row right behind the North Dakota crew – it was so fun to see their reactions each time Cara advanced!
I try not to let popular opinion or a state’s track record unduly affect my predictions. Yes, they should be considered, but it is so hard to not automatically choose Oklahoma or Alabama over North Dakota or New Jersey. It’s hard betting against the odds, even when you have good reason to 😉 Ultimately that’s why I put Oklahoma, Arkansas, on my bubble list, and California out completely. But, while I definitely was not feeling like Florida would advance, I let the pressure of the prelim win and southern track record get to me. It happens 🙂 Overall, I was happy going 8 of 15, or 10 of 15 if you count my bubbles, 6 of 10, and 4 of 7 before finals even started. At the end of the day, I can look back and say I knew in my gut that Missouri and New Jersey stood out to me enough to make it to the finals, I just didn’t listen to that gut strongly enough! And Bollywood is hard to know how to judge! I also let the fact that it took New Jersey so many years to win her state title cloud what I saw of her at prelims.
I believe the judges this year were looking for SMART and REAL. I thought the placement of the top five was extremely obvious. And I think we were able to see that when you have IT, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you can afford, or how much money you bring in – hard work and a genuine ability to command a room is what ultimately attracted the judges to Missouri and North Dakota.
It’s like Christmas as a child – you wait for it and wait for it all year long, and it seems like it will never come. And then it does, and in a blink, it’s over. The book has closed on Miss America 2018, and a new chapter, a new countdown, a new anticipation has begun.
Who’s along for the ride to Miss America 2019? Click here to get started 😉