Miss America Tried a New Format — and Fans Did Not Love It
“Instead of gowns we get TED talks?”
The 2020 Miss America competition was meant to be a welcomed change for the historic pageant but for many longtime fans, it ended up a lukewarm head-scratcher.
The so-called "Miss America 2.0" aired on NBC Thursday night (December 19) and reached 4.5 million viewers. And though the event was supposed to be a "fresh take" on a "historic competition," it ended with many vocal viewers expressing disappointment.
The new format did away with the fashion and beauty-centric portions of the competition, and included more emphasis on talent, questions and career. While that was exciting, the way it broke down live essentially amounted to a televised job interview which gave the show a bizarre reality television lilt.
Aside from bemoaning the lack of the traditional "Miss America" song, the final walk, and the more glamorous segments of the competition, viewers took issue with the way eliminations were tackled. Contestants stood in a line as judges critiqued their speeches, with fake-out negative language used to convince some of the Miss America hopefuls they were going home, when it turned out they were actually safe from elimination.
Social media reactions were overwhelmingly negative with viewers questioning the show's new format and comparing it to reality TV series Shark Tank.
But the show went on, and a winner out of the 51 "candidates" (don't call them contestants) was eventually crowned.
Virginia biochemist Camille Schrier opted for a rather unorthodox appeal to the judges. The 24-year-old Pennsylvania native appeared on-stage in a lab coat, whipping up an engaging chemistry demonstration. She announced she had hoped to "break stereotypes" about being Miss America in 2020 by walking viewers through an experiment that helped them understand the workings behind hydrogen peroxide's catalytic decomposition.
"I'm not the beauty queen," she said. "I'm the brand ambassador for this organization and I'm more than just someone with a crown on my head."
Schrier was selected for a $50,000 scholarship and the year-long paid position of Miss America, which the organization will be using as a visible platform for its fledgling "social impact initiative."
In June 2018, the Miss America Organization announced a shocking revelation on Good Morning America: the event would be dropping both its swimsuit and evening gown competition, as well as any sort of judgments or merits made on contestants' physical appearance. This brought a hundred-year tradition to an end, as the event was altered in ways that were meant to reflect the way culture has transformed over the years since the pageant was founded in 1921.
Of course, its great to see the competition prioritizing things other than looks, but judging by the public's response, it seems that there are still a few run of show issues to work out for 2021.