A&E Docuseries to Detail ‘Cycle of Abuse’ at Miss America Pageant

Secrets of Miss America (Credit: A&E)

The new A&E documentary series Secrets of Miss America promises to shed light on the hidden underbelly of the Miss America pageant.

The four-hour docuseries premieres in July and will expose “long-kept secrets of America’s oldest beauty pageant,” A&E said in a press release Thursday.

Over 20 Miss America winners will offer firsthand accounts and paint a picture of how the competition has “perpetuated racism” and “bullying” since the pageant was founded in 1921.

“Being Miss America was the darkest time in my life,” one woman says in the trailer for the series.

“It’s a horrible, dark cycle of abuse,” another former beauty queen shares.

Related Story: Miss America Winner Recalls ‘Psychological Warfare’ and Alleged Bullying During Her Reign

The series is part of A&E Network’s Secrets Of franchise, which is also adding Secrets of Penthouse focusing on Penthouse Magazine.

The series will reveal the story behind the rise and fall of Bob Guccione, who made millions with Penthouse Magazine by taking on Playboy.

Along with the two new shows, a second season of Secrets of Playboy will premiere this summer. The show was last year’s No 1. new non-fiction cable series, according to Nielsen figures.

“Season 1 of Secrets of Playboy showcased A&E’s best-in-class storytelling, drawing back the curtain and taking an unflinching look at the ugly truths behind a shiny exterior,” Elaine Frontain Bryant, executive vice president and head of programming for A&E, said in a statement.

“We are honored to continue this brave work with Season 2, hearing from new voices and points of view, while also expanding our Secrets Of franchise to further dive into unexamined worlds and shine a light on complex and difficult dynamics and legacies,” Bryant added.

Below are additional details and premiere dates on each show in the franchise:

Secrets of Playboy — Season 2 Premieres Monday, July 10 at 9pm ET/PT
The series unravels the glamourous mythology behind the Playboy empire and examines the far-reaching consequences of association with the brand. Reaching 18 million Total Viewers, season 1 changed the cultural conversation around the iconic brand and its founder Hugh Hefner with shocking revelations of institutional abuse and violence dating back over five decades.

Over the course of eight hours, season 2 expands the series’ focus and examines the ripple effect of being involved with Playboy, exposing the blast zone, and showing how the Playboy experience continued to affect women’s lives long after they finished posing for the magazine. Featuring new never-before-seen interviews with former Playmates and Playboy models, girlfriends of Hefner’s, and three episodes hosted by investigative journalist and former Playboy cover model Lisa Guerrero, the series broadens its lens and examines how the Playboy’s promise of sexual freedom posed a more complex reality in the outside world for the women who represented it.

Secrets of Playboy is produced by The Intellectual Property Corporation (IPC), a part of Sony Pictures Television, for A&E Network. IPC’s Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Devon Graham-Hammonds, Rebekah Fry, and Matt Shanfield serve as executive producers with director and executive producer Domini Hofmann. Cristina Bishai serves as co-executive producer. Elaine Frontain Bryant and Brad Abramson serve as executive producers for A&E.

Secrets of Miss America — Premieres Monday, July 10 at 10pm ET/PT
The four-hour limited series delves into the long-kept secrets of America’s oldest beauty pageant, exposing the shocking scandals at its core. A cultural event once viewed by 80 million people a year, the pageant now struggles to stay relevant to a new generation of Americans whose views on beauty and sexual politics have changed drastically over the past few decades.

The special analyzes whistle blower leaked emails in 2017 exposing misogyny within the Board of Directors, claims of racism in the pageant’s history, the topic of mental health surrounding the competition and the banning of the controversial swimsuit competition. Told by pageant insiders including more than 20 former Miss Americas telling their stories in one documentary for the first time, whistleblowers, contemporary contestants, executives and critics, viewers get a glimpse at the cost of wearing the crown and sash and how pageant culture perpetuated racism, bullying, body shaming, and much more.

Secrets of Miss America is produced by MGM Alternative and Lightbox for A&E Network. The docu-series is executive produced by Mark Burnett; Barry Poznick, Richard Bedser and Ailsa Orr for MGM. Simon Chinn, Jonathan Chinn and Suzanne Lavery are Executive Producers for Lightbox. Elaine Frontain Bryant and Brad Abramson serve as executive producers for A&E.

Secrets of Penthouse — Premieres Monday, Aug. 21 and Tuesday, Aug. 22 at 9pm ET/PT
The four-episode limited series reveals the extraordinary story behind the rise and fall of Bob Guccione, at his height one of the wealthiest men in America, who made millions with Penthouse Magazine by taking on Playboy and pushing the world of adult entertainment further than ever before. When Bob Guccione died in 2010, he had lost his entire fortune. Now, with access inside the family and to those who knew him best, many of whom have never spoken before, this series reveals the truth about Bob Guccione and explores the impact he had on those closest to him.

Secrets of Penthouse is produced by Curious Films for A&E Network. Charlie Russell and Dov Freedman serve as executive producers for Curious Films. Elaine Frontain Bryant and Brad Abramson serve as executive producers for A&E.