By Sabrina McFarland,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
In-depth docu about Miss America Pageant history; language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Make a possible difference in the lives of others. Encouragement from family and friends can help one meet a goal. Benefits of achieving an education.
Positive Role Models
Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990, is now a veterinarian; Leonard Horn, Miss America Pageant CEO, launched a policy for contestants to have a social issue platform; and Gretchen Carlson, Miss America 1989, became a journalist and chair of the organization's board of directors.
When it began in 1921, the Miss America Pageant had race and religious rules for contestants. Only White and Christian women could take part and also meet the standards of White beauty. Since then, diverse contestants have been chosen for the title, including Bess Myerson, Miss America 1945, the first Jewish person to wear the crown; Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, the first African American winner; and Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, the first winner who identifies as Indian and South Asian. The film's crew and cast include BIPOC and White kids, teens, and young and older adults who are former Miss America contestants, pageant volunteers, and fans of the annual competition.
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Violence & Scariness
References to kid's removal from life support, sexual objectification of women's bodies, and images of hospital patients.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
References to nude photos and premarital sex.
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"Ass," "c--ts," "hell," "f--k," "f---ing," and "s--tty."
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Products & Purchases
Images include Miss America Pageant memorabilia, apparel with logos and messages, laptops, social media, and smartphones.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Reference to drinking alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Royalty is a documentary about the history of the Miss America Pageant. There are references to nude photos, premarital sex, sexual objectification of women's bodies, a kid's removal from life support, and drinking alcohol. Language includes "ass," "c--ts," "hell," "f--k," "f---ing," and "s--tty." When it began in 1921, the Miss America Pageant had race and religious rules for contestants. Only White and Christian women could take part in the pageant and also meet the standards of White beauty. Since then, diverse contestants have been chosen for the title. Making a positive difference in the lives of others is a theme throughout the film.
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Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
AMERICAN ROYALTY is a documentary about the Miss America Pageant, which began as a way to extend the Atlantic City, New Jersey, summer tourist season in 1921. Through firsthand interviews and archival footage and photos, the film explores Miss America's historic evolution from a Whites-only beauty pageant to its rebrand as a diverse and inclusive competition.
Is It Any Good?
This film about the Miss America Pageant is a cinematic treat. It's great to see American Royalty winners reflect on their reigns and also share inspiring stories, such as Debbye Turner, Miss America 1990. Her pageant platform was motivating youth to excellence. "I didn't look like a Miss America," says Turner. "I was this little country Brown girl from Jonesboro, Arkansas, that defied all the odds." Now a veterinarian, Turner says that "you can achieve anything you want to and I am living proof of that."
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the communication of the cast in American Royalty. How do they also demonstrate courage and perseverance? Why are these important character strengths?
The Miss America Pageant swimsuit competition was eliminated in 2018. Why was this decision made and do you agree with it? Why, or why not?
The pageant has had the help and teamwork of local volunteers over the years. What do you think about their efforts? What may be the possible benefits of volunteerism?
Do you think that the pageant is still relevant? Why, or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: February 21, 2023
- Cast: Leonard Horn, BeBe Shopp, Debbye Turner
- Directors: Daniel Fisher, Stephen Fisher
- Studio: Vision Films
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Activism, Great Girl Role Models, Holidays
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 6, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Where to Watch
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