miss america pageant 2011 Miss America Pageant 2011: All the swimsuits, sparkles and blinding teethThe Miss America Pageant 2011 took place tonight and boy, were there some funny antics to help the beauty contest scholarship program celebrate its 90th anniversary. Follow along here for all the highlights.

First off, we appreciate that hosts Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke did their very best to pretend like they care. Their work on “The Bachelor” and “Dancing With the Stars” was probably good practice.

The opening number/introductions was freaking priceless. The girls each said one “pithy” sentence about their state. Highlights included:

  • Miss Florida: “The only oil you’ll find on our beaches is on the hot bodes of our sunbathers.” Is that a shot at Miss Louisiana?
  • Miss Iowa: “Leading the state in ethanol production, my state gives you gas.” I’m so proud to be an Iowan tonight.
  • Miss Mississippi: Bragged about having winners of “America’s Got Talent,” “The Biggest Loser” and “MasterChef.” … is that all you got?
  • Miss South Carolina called her state “the home of Vanna White.” Again — is that ALL you got?
  • Miss Utah: “Tonight 53 women share a dream, not a husband.” That reminds me — set the DVR for “Big Love.”
  • Miss Washington made a “Twilight” reference. Also, her name is Jacquie Brown. She is unfortunately not a kick-butt Pam Grier-type.
  • Miss Wyoming: “From the state that touches more than any of the others, but never inappropriately.” Too bad Chris Hansen isn’t the host instead of Chris Harrison.

Did they write those themselves? I can’t decide which is worse — writing that about your own state or that a crew of “writers” did those. If the pageant is this good so far, I have high hopes for the rest.

The finalists are Miss Oklahoma, Miss Nebraska, Miss Texas, Miss Rhode Island, Miss “Polygamy Joke” Utah, Miss “Twilight” Washington, Miss Arizona, Miss Hawaii, Miss Virginia, Miss Arkansas and Miss California (former “American Idol” semi-finalist Arianna Afsar). 

In her video package talking about being a young woman today, Miss Arkansas talks about how advantageous it is that she is “racially ambiguous.” It was … a weird thing to say.

The judges include Marc Cherry (“Desperate Housewives” creator), “DWTS” pro Tony Dovolani and Mark Wills “from the field of vocal talent.” I like country music and I’m still not sure who that is.

The America’s choice semi-finalists include Miss New York and Miss Delaware and the contestant-voted semi-finalists include Miss Kentucky and Miss Oregon.

Chris Harrison informs us that at the Miss America Pageant we celebrate “health, fitness, self confidence, and — can I just say it? — looking good in a really tiny swimsuit.” How he keeps a straight face doing his various jobs is beyond me.

The techno remix they are strutting to in their swimsuits is fun. When Chris Harrison said they celebrate self-confidence, he must have meant only in the girls because this part of the competition just makes the rest of us sad.

The girls who advance out of the swimsuits are Texas, Arkansas, Delaware, Arizona, Hawaii, Washington, (we love how Chris Harrison keeps reminding us how many spots are left, like we can’t count to 12), Kentucky, California, Oklahoma, Virginia, New York and Nebraska.

The evening gown competition is pretty boring, but we do love Miss Kentucky saying she wants a meat gown or a fish gown, a la Lady Gaga. Miss California talks about her shoes that took 8 hours to stone (not to death, but with sparkles). Did she do that herself? Or did she go the Kathy Lee Gifford route?

I’m so glad we get to see the talent competition. It’s the best part of the pageant. Miss Nebraska is up first with a piano performance and it’s suitably impressive. I can’t imagine any of these girls will be just terrible or something, though it would really be funny if somebody was all Gracie Lou Freebush and couldn’t do anything but play the water glasses.

Miss Washington takes on “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and it’s OK. We prefer Allison Iraheta‘s version, thank you. Next. Miss Arizona takes on “Nessum Dorma”, a very cliched (but still difficult) opera piece.

Miss California takes on “I, Who Have Nothing” and she does a pretty god job, but (and we hate to repeat ourselves with the “Idol” references) but we prefer Jordin Sparks on this one. Miss Oklahoma performs pointe ballet and she’s all blonde and willowy, so it’s very pretty.

Miss Colorado tells Brooke Burke that had she made it, she would’ve tap danced to “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. I am extraordinarily sad we missed out on that. Anyway, Miss Hawaii is next with a “Feelin’ Good” vocal performance and it’s really missing the rawness this song needs. It’s “Feelin’ Good” as performed by teeth whitener and spray tan.

Miss Delaware performs a contemporary dance to “The Way You Make Me Feel” and it’s a total rip-off of the routine in “Center Stage.” Except lacking the personality, sass and hot guys of that performance.

With a Riverdance performance, Miss Virginia is very impressive. Delaware should feel lucky she didn’t have to go after this one. Miss Arkansas is a yodeling ventriloquist with two (count ’em, two) dummies while wearing a red sparkly strapless jumpsuit. Um … this is nuts. I mean, it’s so bizarre but it’s also VERY good. This is easily the hardest talent of the night.

Miss Kentucky wraps up the talent portion with “A Change is Gonna Come” and it’s pretty good. It definitely builds and gets better. We still think they should’ve ended on the yodeling ventriloquist.

Only five girls advance to the question round. Up first is Hawaii. Her question is “Do you consider yourself first a citizen of your state, your country or the world?” She talks about the world and being multi-cultural. It’s a fine answer, but didn’t blow me away.

Miss Washington is next with “what does Miss America teach us about healthy competition” and she talks about how much all the competitors love each other and compromise. Pretty good.

The third question is for Miss Nebraska and it is “How do we balance the people’s right to know with the need of government security?” She talks about how the security of the nation is more important than people’s right to know. She just lost Joy Behar’s vote.

Miss Oklahoma is the fourth finalist. She is asked, “What can you tell young women to protect themselves now [about the internet]?” and she talks about discretion and thinking before you speak and act. That was good.

The final contestant in the Top 5 is Miss Arkansas. “Is it right to force people to have health insurance” and she says it’s important to make sure the Americans have the health care they need and deserve. She also says the health care bill is not perfect, but it’s a good start. A very diplomatic answer.

Hey, at least nobody said no gay marriage or “people out there, in our nation don’t have maps. And uh…I  believe that our education like such as in South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as… and, I believe they should uh, our education over here, in the U.S. should help the U.S. or should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq and Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future.”

Now they introduce all the former Miss Americas they can round up,
dating from 1943 to last year. We are tickled to see Heather Whitestone from 1995. She’s the deaf Miss America who danced ballet. We just adored her when we watched that pageant as a young girl.

Finally we get to some results. The fourth runner-up is Miss Oklahoma (surprise! We thought she was a front-runner), the third runner-up is Miss Washington (so no “Jackie Brown” headline for the winners post, so that’s a bummer), the second runner-up is Miss Hawaii and the first runner-up is …. Miss Arkansas.

Which means Miss Nebraska Teresa Scalan is the 90th anniversary Miss America. Congrats to her!

Could Chris Harrison and Brooke Burke have dragged that out any more?! Sheesh. That was worse than any Rose Ceremony.

Thanks for following along with me tonight! This was much more fun than just watching.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."