Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Review: IMG finds its groove in Miss Universe 2018

Upon its acquisition of the Miss Universe pageant in 2015, IMG has adopted several formats to fit its new concept and standard of a Miss Universe winner in this day and age. 

In 2015, the pageant stuck with its Trump era format, albeit with a glossier and flashier presentation which is more of a FOX quality as compared to its previous NBC editions. 
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray crowned by Miss Universe  2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray crowned by Miss Universe  2017 Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters. (Photo Courtesy of YouTube)
In 2016, the Philippine edition saw the pageant giving more airtime to the semifinalists' stories and video introduction, at the expense of the fan favorite swimsuit and evening gown competition. To save airtime, MUO decided to have the ladies appear on stage in groups during the finals competition, to the dismay of many pageant fans.

In 2017, IMG adopted the Continental placement and reverted to the single appearance of the candidates during the finals competition. The Continental Placement was a divisive element, many claimed it to be unfair for continents with so many competitive girls like the Americas, while some said that its a fair distribution for the diversity of the women entering the finals.

Come 2018, combining all the previous elements, it seems that IMG finally found a way to strike a balance. The 2018 format saw an emphasis on well-spoken and smart women, while still embodying the traditional elements of what it takes to be a Miss Universe.

Host Country

Thailand has long been known to be a tropical paradise. And hosting the Miss Universe pageant in the Land of Smiles injected a sort of euphoria for many fans. After all, Thailand is rich in culture, exotic, and above all, its people are renowned for their hospitality. 
Miss Universe 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand
The skyline of Bangkok, Thailand as shown during the Opening of Miss Universe 2018. (Photo Courtesy of YouTube)
While the preliminary activities in Thailand pale in comparison to that in the Philippines, the Thai Organizing Committee made it up through impeccable hosting and fantastic execution. All pre-pageant activities were done in Thai fashion --- organized, elegant, and always culturally relevant.

For the first time in recent years, the National Costume Competition found itself in the limelight when it was given its own competition show with a high-quality live streaming coverage. It was a smashing success online, with online views reaching millions real-time.

Easily, Thailand's hosting of the Miss Universe pageant is already on the running for the "Best Pageant Venue" award. 
Rich Culture of Thailand at Miss Universe 2018
Rich Culture of Thailand in display at Miss Universe 2018


Last year's stage was really aesthetically the best among the international competitions. As a matter of fact, it won the "Best Pageant Stage" award. 
Miss Universe 2018 Stage
Miss Universe 2018 Stage during the Opening. (Photo Courtesy of YouTube)
This year, the Miss Universe did a different stage design, with lesser emphasis on those amazing LED screens used in 2017. This time, Miss Universe decided to create a runway stage, giving the candidate more room for catwalk and projection.

And it was a success. The runway gave the Miss Universe finals, especially the swimsuit round, the Victoria Secret vibe. The stage gave the pageant the atmosphere of modernity and everything was just refreshing to the eyes.
Tamaryn Green during Miss Universe 2018 Swimsuit Competition
Tamaryn Green during Miss Universe 2018 Swimsuit Competition. (Photo Courtesy of YouTube.


The Opening Number was a bit of a letdown. With Neyo performing, one could expect that the Opening Number would be energetic, blasting off some moves from the candidates. But it was a solemn song that welcomed the viewers, with the candidates just walking on the stage.

But everything else went beyond what is expected of pageants. From the announcement of the continental placers, the wildcard, to the short speech round up to the swimsuit and evening gown competitions, Miss Universe showed that it is still an excellent TV entertainment extravaganza.
Angela Ponce during the Miss Universe 2018 Tribute
"I don't need to win Miss Universe, I only have to be here!" immortal words from Miss Spain, Angela Ponce. (Photo Courtesy of YouTube)
Another critical moment is the tribute given to Angela Ponce, the first-ever transgender woman to compete at Miss Universe. It was emotional and yet enlightening, appealing to the audience and fans about acceptance and equality. And this placed Miss Universe into a whole new level of relevance and importance in this day and age.

The three-hour show was again a great television event, complete with excitement, visuals, and aesthetic appeal, and great musical numbers. The Final Look is easily one of the best in this decade alone.

With exotic Thailand in the backdrop of everything, Miss Universe 2018 is a pageant edition one for the books.


In an era where pageants are criticized for being outdated and sexist, Miss Universe was able to strike a balance which Miss World has yet to achieve, by veering away from sexist comments from the host, which was typical during the 60s up to 90s, and with a heavy emphasis on women empowerment and the thoughts of the candidates. 
Steve Harvey hosting Miss Universe 2018
Steve Harvey hosted the Miss Universe 2018, his fourth time since he first hosted the pageant in 2015. (Photo Courtesy of YouTube)
The Miss Universe pageant was able to repackage itself as a pageant that does not objectify or commoditize women while retaining the fan favorite swimsuit competition and its overall entertainment appeal. 

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