Global Beauties' Miss Universe 2017 Telecast Review
SPECTACULAR SHOW SAVES THE DAY FOR MISS UNIVERSE 2017
Very few pageant fans will disagree with me when I say that the 66th Universe edition of the Miss Universe Competition was one that in many ways we won't want to remember. In fact, 10 months after a highly successful edition in the Philippines, it was time for Miss Universe again... but things could not have been any more different. It was an embarrassingly low key event... perhaps a low point for Miss Universe.
From a budget national costume competition and preliminary competition in the Planet Hollywood Mezzanine to a few embarrassing events in burger joints and pizza places, this was definitely not an edition fitting for the what is supposed to be the most glamorous contest in the universe. While we are thankful that Miss Universe has found a way to be on calendar year schedule though, things are not looking great for the organization at the moment. The Miss Universe Organization should really have a long, hard look at the way they organise their events and perhaps what they want from hosting partners. The way they are going now bodes nothing good for this contest.
However, as terrible as the pre-pageant activities were, we must say that Miss Universe still manage to do what they do best... put on a pretty darn spectacular show. And to be really honest: who will really remember the pre-pageant activities because in the end it is all about the show. Maybe it was a business decision to cut costs on the pageant to ensure that the quality of the final show remained superb and we can totally live with that.
Here are some of my thoughts about the final show:
Miss Universe showed their fans that they listen to suggestions and complaints. The opening number did not feel as rushed as the previous edition’s and the girls actually got more than a second of screen time. It was nice to not see them sprinting across the stage in a mad rush. Still, I think more can be done with the opening, especially if they stick to a three hour show, which in all honesty is a bit too long. Kudos to the professional hair and makeup team who did a great job. The girls looked absolutely fantastic. What I do miss is a nice opening number to start off the show with a bit of a wow factor.
The last few Miss Universe stages have been quite similar and that is fine as it works for them. It looked sleek and modern and I have come to realize that a black stage does bring extra elements of glamour and drama.
Steve Harvey: Am I the only one who doesn’t get Steve Harvey? I guess if you enjoy watching someone act a fool then he’s your man. And honestly: can we please give the 2015 mess a rest. It’s been done over and over and over again. I wonder if Fox’s target market is the lower working class because I just find Harvey’s humor a bit unintelligent.
Ashley Graham: I love Ashley Graham. I think she’s fun and comes across as down to earth and personable. Miss Universe should definitely keep her and she’s an asset to their show.
Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra: Yassss, Miss Universe… you were smart by bringing in these two. Yes, we can see you can try to make the pageant more relevant but having these two gave the pageant fans what they want… a bit of camp, a bit of bitchiness and bit of drama. Even though Lu came across as a diva, pageants fans not-so-secretly love what these two brought to the table. It made the pageant fun to watch and kudos especially to Lu for speaking her mind.
Let’s just say that the Miss Universe organization showed the rest of the pageants how to do it. Smart move to big starts lilke Fergie and Rachel Platten to perform live. I love Fergie though I did not care for the song but I thought Platten’s final look song was just perfect and it was also part of the organization’s effort to send a message about female empowerment out there.
I liked the fact that they added songs from “international” artists that are still well-known in the United States to give the introductions a bit more of an international flavor. For the Americas we had the super popular Despacito, Europe got British artist Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill and Africa and Asia Pacific got Canadian-Somali K’Naan’s Waving Flag.
It is quite evident that Miss Universe is also trying to diversify their judging panel by bringing in more people from around the world and also the female vote has more power.
The video inserts were planned smartly as they provided the perfect mix of fun (roommates insert and time in Vegas), style and beauty (CHI hair advice), drama (rehearsals with Lu and the interviews) and some serious messages about women empowerment and the relevance of pageants. I applaud the production team for using these moments widely in the organization’s efforts to (more subtly than at Miss USA) move away from the Trump era as fast as possible. The only that I did not get was the whole tribute to Iraq, which I thought was slightly unfair. Yes, it was a huge deal that Iraq returned to the competition but there were some amazing other stories to be highlighted too. What about Laos, Cambodia and Nepal joining for the first time?
The new regional system
I can totally understand why the fans are divided about the new system. I think there’s some room for improvement in the way it was thought out and executed (Africa and Asia Pacific together?) but kudos to Miss Universe for trying to make the group of contestants more diverse. I actually really like seeing some different countries from around the world in the mix. We missed that while sash factor dominated Miss Universe during the last few years.
When I watched Miss Universe again to write this review, it just really struck me why the Miss Universe fans love this pageant so much. Yes, they are to make it more serious but they also still give us what we love: swimsuits, evening gowns, competition and glamour. But most of all, I realized that it’s extremely enjoyable to watch because it feels like you are going on a journey with the girls. By starting with an interview when the top 16 is announced, showing a VT after the top 10 is announced and a voice clip when the top 5 is announced and having two rounds of final competition, it actually feels like you really get to know the girls, so people feel more invested in the competition. And they sure do the cuts well. They are always exciting and suspenseful. The energy of the hosts, the music and the lighting – it’s just all right!
Swimsuit and Evening Gown Competitions
I love that Miss Universe has kept the swimsuit competition the way it is. I feel they gave the girls a bit more time too this year but it’s clear that they don’t want to put too much emphasis on swimsuits.
The evening gown part of the competition remained the most glamorous part of the contest. I absolutely loved the fact that they had Carson and Lu do commentary as the girls walked on stage. These two reminded me of the good old Ally and Julie days. It’s what the fans love!
I do feel like the two rounds of competition can be a bit longer though as they have three hours, but they they are still there and I am not going to complain too much.
Top 5 and Top 3 Rounds
I also love that Miss Universe has gone back to top 5 and top 3 with the questions coming from the fans in the top 5 round. It certainly helps to keep the fans interested but perhaps they can say who the fan was and what country they are from. Having the same question for the final round really helps to put the competition on equal footing and it is a true (but fair) pressure test for the girls.
Outgoing title holder
I love that Miss Universe brings out the reigning title holder twice, once at the start of the competition and again for her final walk. I think the queen who has represented the brand for a whole year deserves that. Iris was amazing during both these appearances.
The Miss Universe crowning is still all about suspense and drama. It’s exciting and energetic and really ended the production on a high.
Despite their low budget run-up to the final, the Miss Universe Organization and Fox television delivered once again when it mattered the most. They gave us a final that was thrilling to watch, had a powerful message and gave us, the pageant fans what we love, while still trying to make the pageant relevant in modern society. Congratulations to the Miss Universe Organization for having the just the right amounts of fun, glamour, excitement and a suspenseful, entertaining and fast-paced pageants. You have set the bar high, once gain.
Written for Global Beauties by Andre Sleigh
Photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization