Drew Angerer/Getty Images
by Seija Rankin | Tue., Sep. 27, 2016 3:00 AM
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
All eyes were on Long Island.
On Monday night, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton gathered for the first of what will eventually be a series of four debates leading up to the presidential election in November. It was the first time the two would square off against only each other—and it all aired live, in person, on national television. Naturally, it was a can't-miss evening.
But we're not here to discuss their answers about cyber attacks or ruminate over law and order. We're here to help our audience out with a little thing we call understanding this spider's web of an election season. Nothing about the 2016 race has been routine, and there are so many facts and figures and developments to keep straight.
And who has the time for things like Googling Hofstra University—you're probably busy enough just figuring out the best time to hit your local polling place. (Hint: Probably not at lunch.) As such, we've put together this little cheat sheet to all things presidential debate, and we've framed it all in the world of pop culture. Because we know you're all experts in that subject. Consider this a refresher course in everything you need to know, in terms you actually enjoy reading about.
Because, no offense to anyone involved in the campaigns, but sometimes you just need to read about Brangelina to cleanse your palette.
Debate Season = Oscars Campaign Season
Does any candidate like having to prep for days on end, stand in front of the entire country on live television, and have fast-paced arguments? Probably not. But going through this rigmarole is something that's required if you want to find success come November. Just like the endless talk show appearances, industry parties and photo ops that A-listers have to endure to try and win the Academy's vote every February. If a celebrity wants the best chance possible to take home an Academy Award, they have to schmooze its members (and the American public at large) with all sorts of appearances they wouldn't otherwise consider. Just look at, well, anything that Leonardo DiCaprio did during the winter of 2015. But it worked, right?
Number of Debates Each Candidate Has Done = Allison Janney Versus Maisie Williams
If you were watching this year's Emmys, you would have noticed a little disparity in the television experience level of some of the nominees. On one hand, there was Allison Janney, who is a full-on veteran of the small screen, and then you had Maisie Williams, who is but 19 years old and currently starring in her first major series. They both have every legitimate reason to be in attendance at the Emmys, but one of them has just done it a whole lot more. If you didn't pick up on it yet, Trump is Maisie and Clinton is Allison—which makes for a very interesting dynamic on the debate floor.
Trump's Opinion of Debate Moderators = Celebrities Who Hate Their Interview Questions
Being interviewed constantly can get draining for A-listers, especially when those interviews consist of a lot of topics that they really don't want to talk about. They're professionally trained to both suck it up and deflect said topic, but sometimes a person cracks and lets their opinion of the interviewer show. Like the time Robert Downey Jr.walked out on British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy because he was upset over the former's pries into his drug-fueled past. It's safe to say the presidential debate moderators won't be asking about either candidate's party pasts, but Trump certainly feels just as hostile as RDJ did. He's expressed his concerns about getting a fair shake from any of the moderators, and definitely won't be asking any of them out for a beer afterwards.
Hillary's Feelings About Email-Related Questions = Brangelina's Feelings About Divorce-Related Questions
Okay, so Angie and Brad haven't been put on the hot seat yet, but we're using a bit of imagination to infer their possible reactions to being pressed about the Big D. They're already sick of it, and will be employing their best grin-and-bear-it. The same goes for Clinton and the inevitable probe into her oft-discussed email scandal.
Hofstra University = The Shrine Auditorium
It seems like anytime you turn on an awards show, it's liable to be held at the Shrine. That storied Los Angeles venue has played host to the Academy Awards, the SAG Awards, the Emmys and the Grammys. (Yes, that's almost all of them.) Likewise, is it just us or are these debates always at Hofstra? It's not just us—the Long Island college hosted Barack Obamaand John McCain in 2008 and then Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012. The school stepped up to host this first debate after the originally-planned Wright State pulled out, citing security concerns. Hofstra's president has even dubbed it "Debate U," an ode to other schools who take in the big bucks through athletics, as opposed to this alternative event route that the school has.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's Relationship = Taylor Swift and Kanye West
Sure, Hillary and Donald might seem like enemies now—and there's no denying that their disagreements are very, very real—but they both belong to a very insular group of, to put it bluntly, rich New Yorkers. They got along just fine way back in the day (there's even been a photo circling of the two in an embrace years ago), and will inevitably find themselves at some sort of industry event in the future in which they put on a brave face and act congenially towards one another. Does that sound like a certain famous twosome in the news right now? Hollywood is a small town, and mark our words that there will come a day in which they make nice in the green room of an awards show.
Lester Holt Moderating the First Debate = Stephen Colbert Hosting The Late Show
We like to call this veterans-getting-the-gig-of-a-lifetime. When Colbert moved on up from the Colbert Report to The Late Show, he was no newbie. He'd been hosting a late-night show for years, but nothing on the level of his current CBS gig. Holt has been a much-respected face of NBC, but stepping into the shoes of a general election debate moderator is a huge career move. All eyes are on him to keep things under control, and the post-debate analysis will center on his performance as much as the candidates'.
Mock Debates = Table Read
The amount of preparation that presidential candidates go through is mind-numbing. Most of them choose to sequester themselves at occasionally secret locales, where they engage in endless hours of mock debates. They even go so far as to hire stand-ins for their opponents to practice every conceivable question, answer and retort. They almost go to the same lengths of practice that television shows and movies do before they get onto the set.
Debate Topics = Met Gala Themes
Manus x Machina. Punk: Chaos to Culture. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. When we think 'Met Gala,' we think 'theme.' The debates are no different—each installment during the campaign season is assigned to a specific topic which will drive the conversation and affect which questions the moderator asks. They typically have to do with the economy, foreign policy and the like.
Live-Tweeting the Debates = Live-Tweeting...Anything
Have event, will Tweet. Such is the motto of our society. Twitter even goes so far as to make a special emoji-fied hashtag for this year's presidential debates, just like they did during the Emmys, or the Oscars, or...you get it. If you can't catch any of the debates yourself, you know you can always catch the highlights (or lowlights) on social media.
Missing Lester Holt = Chris Harrison at the Women Tell All Special
Did you see how Lester handled the infighting between the candidates? We didn't either, because you could barely hear the guy over all the cross talk. It can be overwhelming to try to reign in two people who have vastly different views and a clear distaste for one another. But you know who has a lot of experience with that? Chris Harrison. At the end of every season of The Bachelor he must moderate an entire crew of frenzied castmembers as they try to speak over each other. If you're wondering why Lester didn't speak up more, just think of what Chris Harrison goes through.
Trump's Taxes = Taylor Swift's Permission for "Famous"
The people want to see the receipts, whether the issue is if Taylor Swift ever actually gave Kanye West's song "Famous" her blessing, or if Donald Trump is as rich as he says he is (or if he has given as much to charity as he says he is.) Political candidates have a history of releasing their tax returns prior to the election, which is why plenty of people, Lester Holt included, have asked whether he plans to, well, show America the receipts. Of course, there's always the chance that Kim Kardashianhas a recording of the tax returns stashed away and will be releasing them on Snapchat tonight.
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