Presidential Debate 3: The Debatening

“I RAN BECAUSE OF YOU!”: Things got dramatic during last night’s debate. Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP

By Jill Greene | Head Editor

October 23, 2020

Prologue: The Exposition

Sweet Jesus. Here we go again.

After a first debate bloated with incivility and second-hand embarrassment, as well as a nonexistent second debate, our favorite  duo is BACK to talk over each other yet again in what I’d like to call Presidential Debate 3: The Debatening!

Donald  Trump and Joe Biden co-star in the final installment of our debate trilogy, where they’ll take the stage at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, to duke it out over America’s most pressing issues. “I really hope that it can be a proper discussion where the candidates can actually talk, rather than being interrupted constantly,” junior Tanner Lloyd said when asked about what’d she’d like to see. “Chances are that’s not gonna happen.” 

As a professionally esteemed reporter, it is my due diligence to present to you, my sweet reader, a recap of this nightmare, reviewing play by play every democracy-rotting moment. So, with my notes prepared (and my Advil close by), I present to you a comprehensive review of the debate.

OUR ESTEEMED ACTORS: Trump and Biden take the stage to perform the role of a life time. Morry Gash/ Pool via Getty Images

Act 1: (Fighting COVID-19)

The blockbuster film we’ve all been waiting for opened with the question on everyone’s minds: how the hell are we gonna fight COVID-19?

Trump loftily vowed that he and his ensemble of soldiers can save America via Operation Warp Speed…whereas Biden dolefully asserted that the American public needs to arm themselves with PPE and rapid testing. Throughout act one, the audience was constantly reminded that over 223,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19, and it can only get worse unless we put a stop to it!

Right out of the gate, the debate set itself up to be jam-packed full of drama, tension, and stakes. Will America shut down? Or will Congress manage to pass a relief bill? I’m on the edge of my seat! Personally, I really like how the writers established Biden and Trump as foils of one another.

Act 2: (National Security)

This part of the film felt the most repetitive, but it introduced an important plot point: Biden’s son and his business with Ukraine. It must be important, since it came up so frequently, yet I can’t seem to find any important meaning! On top of Biden’s son, Iran, Russia, and China were also routinely mentioned. Apparently, the US election is being toyed with. This fact feels like it should have been a bigger plot point, but other than a quick gloss-over in this section, it was entirely forgotten by the end of the film…

Act 3: (American Families)

With a penny-pinching pandemic on top of an era of record-setting wealth inequality, it’s no surprise that Americans are anxious when it comes to the economy. For years now, Americans have waited in anticipation over the future of their healthcare system. Unlike in previous installments of the Presidential Debate franchise, PD3:tD accomplishes what no other series has accomplished before: Donald Trump and Joe Biden agree on something!

Ok, yes, their perspectives are radically different, but both candidates promised that upon reelection, they’d drastically revise Obamacare. Trump promised to run it and see how it works and run it some more and stop it and errrrr…. something… and Biden advocated for socialized, public medicine. In addition to healthcare, Biden stressed the need to raise the minimum wage, citing the opinion that it’s ridiculous to have an American forced to work two jobs. Trump, however, thought that we need to be careful with raising the minimum wage, as it varies from state to state and a drastic increase could hurt small businesses—presenting a rare cautionary side of Trump, for a change.

Act 4: (Immigration)

Now here’s where things got heated. When asked how he’d reunite immigrant children who were ripped apart from their parents’ arms, Trump revealed the biggest plot twist of all: there WERE no parents, rather, there were COYOTES! Who could’ve seen this coming? Immigrant children brought to the United States by cartels and coyotes…. I swear, Hollywood’s getting desperate at this point. Additionally, Biden and Trump butted heads over the cages that foreign immigrants are kept in. But the most jaw dropping part out of the entire movie was when Trump stated that any illegal immigrants who bothered to return and show up to their scheduled court hearing had the “lowest IQs.” If you’re trying to write a good villain for any story, that should do the trick.

I WISH WE HAD A WORKING MUTE BUTTON: Trump hogged the stage, walking all over his opponent. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Act 5: (Climate Change)

Once again, Trump pounced on Biden like the tiger he is, interrogating him about whether or not he’ll commit to a ban on fracking. Sheepishly, Biden barely managed to get out that he meant he’d ban fracking on federal land, not fracking in general—however, he’d transition from fracking (which is good enough material for Trump to work with to advance his motives). While Biden meekly asserted his belief in his climate plan and the Paris Climate Agreement, Trump paraded his victory over the environment, flaunting his crystal clean air and water all while saving the economy. Wait… that can’t be right. I thought the film was supposed to be a nonfiction piece. Weird.

Act 6: (Leadership)

The beginning of the end  kicked off with a minute long monologue from each actor, gallantly pleading their cases for presidency to the audience. Trump promised to lead and unite America under the banner of success!  In contrast, Biden put on his all-American, metaphorical cowboy hat to get down to earth with the audience. Like every freshman writing a conclusion, Biden restated pretty much everything we already discussed.

The Cast and Crew:

Biden and Trump were great actors—they conveyed so much emotion! It was refreshing to see a reserved, quiet side of Trump, as he was forced to comply with the Commission of Presidential Debate’s rules on no interrupting during the first two minutes. On the other hand, Biden maintained his “Hey, ole sport” attitude throughout most of the movie, but occasionally, we saw that “Beast Mode” side of him whenever Trump called his son a low-life.

As for the writing, it was a little weak at some points. It was repetitive and, not to mention, redundant! Everyone kept stammering over one another, and even themselves, to the point of incomprehension. However, I was pleasantly surprised at all the references from previous debates! There was a nostalgic flashback to the notorious incident of Trump calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” as well as the return of the Biden fan favorite “Malarkey!” We even got a few callbacks to previous guest-stars “Hillary Clinton,” “Obama,” and “The Emails.” It was a pleasant bow to tie this whole debate saga together. 

Personally, I thought NBC’s Kristin Welker did a much better job at directing than Fox News’ Chris Wallace. She had a much stronger vision on how she wanted this program to go than Wallace did. She created a coherent story all while allowing her actors to explore and play around.

Epilogue: Final Thoughts

Presidential Debate 3: The Debatening was a satisfying conclusion to the “2020 Debate” trilogy that will leave political analysts gawking for decades. “The debate went just how I expected it: typical blubbering between the two candidates,” senior Anhika Bui said. “Both sides made unprofessional remarks but the moderator kept them mostly in check.”

THAT’S A WRAP!: See you next debate cycle!  Jim Bourg/Pool via AP

In all seriousness, this debate was much more reserved and dignified than the previous (although the bar wasn’t that high to begin with). Overall, I felt there was a clear winner this debate. While Trump had some good ammo, it was just that. Destructive, destructive ammo. Biden, on the other hand, actually provided responses of substance. I have to hand it to him, because in the face of Trump’s distracting receipts, he managed to get his message across, especially when he shot forth his hand directly down the barrel of the camera and addressed me personally. Three times.

As the 2020 Debate Cycle comes to a close, Americans can only wait with bated breath until the highly-anticipated spinoff, Battle to the Death (of American Democracy), is released on November 3… now, excuse me, as I go to my LetterBoxd account and give this debate 2 out of 5 stars.


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