Netflix's controversial series Insatiable and Jennifer Aniston's upcoming film Dumplin' are just some of the new shows and movies turning attention to beauty queens and the conflicts that surround them. Now, Facebook Watch is digging into the behind the scenes action of pageant life, too, with its new series Queen America, starring Catherine-Zeta Jones, and premiering on Nov. 18. Despite its dark comedy, Queen America feels super realistic, but luckily it's not based on a true story.
The story of Queen America also sounds like a nod to Miss Congeniality without all the FBI stuff, but there's no sign that the similarity goes anywhere beyond that. In it Catherine Zeta-Jones plays renowned coach and former Miss Oklahoma Vicki Ellis, who gets partnered up with the lovely but woefully unprepared Samantha Stone (played by Belle Shouse), per Slashfilm. Vicki needs to get Samantha ready to compete against the most poised and beautiful young ladies of Oklahoma with the ultimate goal of one day seizing the coveted crown of Miss America herself. But of course, as anyone who's seen Toddlers & Tiara's knows, there's a heck of a lot more that goes into pageants than just looking pretty.
The pageant at the center of Queen America is the Miss America Starred and Striped Contest, per Variety. That contest is also fictional, and likely has such a long-winded name to differentiate it from the world famous Miss America Contest, formerly known as the Miss America Pageant. (Ahead of the 2019 Miss America Contest, Gretchen Carlson, the chairwoman of the Miss America organization, said, "We are no longer a Pageant. Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent, and empowerment.")
Queen America also seems to think that "pageant" is a bit of a dirty word, as it portrays the culture as cut throat and dangerous. Zeta-Jones' Ellis is seen throughout as being cold hearted and focused solely on winning, along with being a hypocrite as she strictly monitors Samantha's diet and exercise while binging on junk food in secret.
Queen America is the first foray into the world of television producing for the newly created independent studio wiip, which is led by Paul Lee, the former president of the ABC Entertainment Group, reported Deadline. "wiip is focused on creating extraordinary content that remains true to the authentic vision of artists who want to take creative risks to tell original stories," Lee said. "We are thrilled to collaborate with Meaghan, Bruna, Entertainment 360 and their remarkable creative team, along with our partners at Facebook Watch, to bring this uniquely dark, female-driven comedy, starring celebrated actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, to audiences around the world."
By the sounds of it, the Miss America Starred and Stripe pageant in Queen America either takes place before September 2018 or in a slightly alternate universe, where the word "pageant" is still extremely relevant indeed. While it may not be based on any true story in particular, it sounds like the writers and Facebook Watch hope to shine a light on real pageant culture
The first three episodes will air on Nov. 18, with the remaining seven airing week to week.