Wonderland, ‘I Was Once a Beauty Queen’: Review


Wonderland is the BBC’s answer to Channel 4’s much-loved ‘The Boy Who Was Exploited For a Faux-Sympathetic Documentary’ series. It is also the programme that spins the wheel of fate and decides which social group the country will hate for the week: last time it was Oxbridge Tories in ‘Young, Bright and On The Right’, this time, with ‘I Was Once a Beauty Queen’, it’s Creepy Men From The 70s.

Creepy Men From The 70s ran the Beauty Pageants this show was all about, Creepy Men From The 70s married the titular Beauty Queens, and very Creepy Men From The 70s were the Dads they interviewed. They are that generation of men who are all moustaches and arse-pinching, the generation who have their own seat in a pub, and are proud of it, and value it more than their wives. They were that generation petulantly losing their battle with “Those, what did they call themselves? Those feministsâ€? who were out to ruin everyone else’s fun.

Of course, to say that this whole thing was their doing is to gift these archive ass-hats a victory they don’t deserve: blaming men for all bad things just cements the idea of their power, and this doc doesn’t fall into that trap. There were women involved as well, obviously, and on both sides, with a female astrologer being particularly nasty. In fact, the whole show was about the women, whether exploited, exploiters, or most commonly, just trying to get what they could out of the deal, whilst the CMFT 70s were just a nasty undercurrent.

But whilst this episode did do a reasonable job of following the former Beauty Queens’ lives after their years in the spotlight, there was a lack of a critical edge: none of “those feministsâ€? turned up to give their perspective, there was no debate, and I for one would really have appreciated one. So too, I imagine, would anyone who’s ever been stuck between thinking that people should be able to do what they bloody well please, wearing swim suits on stage and crying a lot included, and thinking that no-one should be treated the way these women were.

Reasonably interesting and reasonably informative but not really stimulating, like John Major, this documentary will make all males want to cut off their penises and renounce their sex, like John Mayer.