Despite having Catriona Gray as the reigning queen, it’s quite frustrating that to the perception of many pageant fans, they couldn’t seem to be able to effectively tap Catriona’s charisma and influence to have her travel to more countries than what she ended up visiting (reportedly a mere seven countries compared to at least 10 countries traveled by other winners of major pageants). Compounding the worries of pageant fans and pundits about the state of the Miss Universe Organization is the last-minute way they seem to be able to secure a broadcast date and venue. The impression they left is that they received a directive from Fox that the only feasible broadcast date they can give for this pageant was early December, and from that they scrambled for a city within the US until they came up with Atlanta. With that, they then have a scaled-down itinerary lasting 10 days, with the preliminary show staged a mere two days prior to the final. On top of that, they decided to use a pay-per-view model for those fans who want to view the show live–which caused heavy consternation and criticism from online pageant fans. Still, I have to say, at least the limited activities are more of a dignified charitable bent instead of the tacky chicken wings-eating contests and bikinis-and-lemonade-stands affair of a few previous editions. Also, at least albeit the preliminary competition was staged in a relatively small hotel ballroom, at least there was a proper (albeit imperfectly slippery) stage unlike the barebones hotel mezzanine like was done two years ago in Vegas.
I won’t be able to do a full homestretch review at this point, especially due to the relatively late postings of pohtos from the preliminary competition and national costume show, alongside the double whammy of the Miss and Mister Supranational pageants. Like in Miss International, I’ll do a full delegates’ review after all the major pageants are done. So instead, I’ll trot out my leader board:
TOP CONTENDERS: COLOMBIA, IRELAND, PHILIPPINES, PUERTO RICO, THAILAND
POSSIBLE USURPER: U S A
SHOO-INS: ALBANIA, BRAZIL, FRANCE, SOUTH AFRICA, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
LIKELIEST: ARGENTINA, AUSTRALIA, BANGLADESH, CANADA, CHILE, CHINA, CROATIA, CURACAO, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, HAITI, ICELAND, INDIA, INDONESIA, JAMAICA, JAPAN, KAZAKHSTAN, KENYA, MEXICO, NETHERLANDS, PANAMA, PERU, SIERRA LEONE, SINGAPORE, SLOVAK REPUBLIC,SPAIN, TANZANIA,
INTERVIEW/EMPOWERMENT FACTOR: BELGIUM, ISRAEL, NEPAL
EXCELLENT: ARMENIA, BAHAMAS, BARBADOS, BULGARIA, CAMBODIA, COSTA RICA, EGYPT, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, GERMANY, HONDURAS, KOREA, KOSOVO, LAOS, MALAYSIA, MONGOLIA, MYANMAR, NAMIBIA, NICARAGUA, NIGERIA, POLAND, PORTUGAL, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, URUGUAY, U S VIRGIN ISLANDS
VERY STRONG: ANGOLA, CAYMAN ISLANDS, FINLAND, GUAM, ITALY, LITHUANIA, MALTA, NEW ZEALAND, NORWAY
STRONG: ARUBA, GEORGIA, MAURITIUS, ROMANIA, TURKEY
VERY GOOD: EL SALVADOR, SAINT LUCIA
GOOD: BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
So, here’s how my “Fearful” Forecast looks like.
FINAL THREE: COLOMBIA, IRELAND, THAILAND
TOP SIX: PHILIPPINES, PUERTO RICO, U S A
TOP 10: ALBANIA, BRAZIL, FRANCE, SOUTH AFRICA
TOP 20: ARGENTINA, BANGLADESH, ICELAND, INDIA, INDONESIA, MEXICO, PERU, SPAIN, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
BUBBLING UNDER: AUSTRALIA, CANADA, CHILE, CHINA, CROATIA, CURACAO, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, GREAT BRITAIN, HAITI,JAMAICA, JAPAN, KAZAKHSTAN, KENYA, NETHERLANDS, PANAMA, SIERRA LEONE, SINGAPORE, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, TANZANIA,
STRIKING DISTANCE: ARMENIA, BAHAMAS, BARBADOS, BELGIUM, BULGARIA, CAMBODIA, COSTA RICA, EGYPT, EQUATORIAL GUINEA, GERMANY, HONDURAS, ISRAEL, KOREA, KOSOVO, LAOS, MALAYSIA, MONGOLIA, MYANMAR, NAMIBIA, NEPAL, NICARAGUA, NIGERIA, POLAND, PORTUGAL, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, URUGUAY, U S VIRGIN ISLANDS
For me the most compelling choices to win the crown are IRELAND (Fioghnnuala “Fig” O’Reilly) and THAILAND (Paweensuda “Fahsai” Drouin). The former is an overachieving woman of color who could make a big breakthrough for her country, the latter has a trajectory that parallels the reigning Miss Universe, and she seems to be applying the same traits–if thtat’s a good or bad thing, we’ll find out when the finals come in.
But we cannot deny the fierce overall performances delivered during the Preliminary Show by COLOMBIA (Gabriela Tafur), PHILIPPINES (Gazini Ganados) and PUERTO RICO (Madinon ANderson). There is also a strong argument that with her law background U S A (Cheslie Kryst) could leapfrog the above ladies for the win. Then, there is the potential of a Miriam Quiambao-style narrative for FRANCE (Maeva Coucke), who had a famous fall during the preliminary swimsuit round (no thanks to a slippery floor).
Let’s see how everything unfolds later at the Tyler Perry Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Good luck to all the ladies!