There were frustrating interruptions, though not as many as in the first debate. There were dodged questions, animated facial expressions and one candidate running particularly roughshod over the moderator.
And yes, there was a fly on top of Vice President Mike Pence’s head.
That was what excited social media during the sole vice-presidential debate, one in which the tone was markedly more subdued compared with last week’s presidential debate but in which the dynamics remained largely the same: The Republican incumbent showed little regard for the agreed-upon rules, and the Democratic challenger mostly complied.
And, again, a fly landed on Mr. Pence’s head.
So, for posterity, here is how the internet — or how we casually refer to that insular, blue-check-verified version of the proverbial diner in a steel town — reacted to the debate.
About an hour into the debate, a fly suddenly appeared on Mr. Pence’s head, resting motionless yet extremely visible set against his silver hair. It sat there for two minutes and three seconds, enough time to spawn thousands of memes and somehow crash Twitter’s trending topics.
Even a comedian who spent nearly a decade finding humor in the travails of the vice presidency was impressed by the fly’s appearance.
The Biden campaign even turned the fly into its latest get-out-the-vote canvasser and fund-raiser.
The Trump campaign had put out no fly content as of late Wednesday.
The questions prepared by Susan Page, the Washington bureau chief for USA Today, were topical, sharp and specific. They were just rarely answered.
Rather, both candidates (though Mr. Pence more frequently than Ms. Harris) simply used their time to make prepared remarks or attacks, occasionally bantering with each other, but rarely answering the questions.
Mastering the split screen
With the two candidates seated 12 feet
The 2020 vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris was much more composed than last week’s presidential debate but it was no less memeable.
Even before the debate was over, memes — born out of subtle moments — started dominating parts of social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter.
Harris’ smirk became an instant reaction meme, jokes were lobbed about “RuPaul’s Drag Race” host and drag queen RuPaul’s fracking, and, perhaps the most viral, was the fly that landed atop Pence’s head.
Here are our top memes of the night.
During the debate, Pence said the Democratic ticket would ban fracking, which Harris denied.
But the back-and-forth about fracking reminded Twitter of RuPaul’s interview earlier this year with NPR, during which he talked about owning land in Wyoming and appeared to reference allowing oil companies to frack on that land, according to the Guardian.
As the discussion of fracking was underway at the debate, RuPaul’s name immediately trended on Twitter as social media seized on the moment.
“Pence is trying to get the rupaul vote that’s why he never shuts up about fracking,” one Twitter user wrote.
“RuPaul will not have Kamala take away his fracking rights,” another wrote.
Others posted reaction memes with images of RuPaul looking shocked, with tweets implying that was the drag queen’s reaction to hearing Harris’ answer about fracking.
Some on social media argued that the real winner of the night was Harris’ facial expressions.
As Pence spoke, the senator smiled as she waited for her turn to respond, but Twitter couldn’t help but compare her smirks to other television moments.
Several tweets compared the look Harris gave Pence to a squinting smile made by the “Game of Thrones” character Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke.
“The Academy Award goes to…” is what went through my mind as I watched what can technically be called a “presidential debate” between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“It is hard to find the words to describe what we saw on that debate stage last night,” said Robin Roberts in an ABC News Video
Good Morning America Anchor George Stephanopoulos summed it up in one word: “disgrace.”
TAKEAWAYS FROM FIRST DEBATE: Five takeaways from the first presidential debate between Trump, Biden
Folks on Twitter didn’t hold back in sharing their thoughts after the spectacle:
Well I’m officially stressed. HE IS ARGUING WITH THE MODERATOR #Debatenight
— Raven Diltz (@thewritingraven) September 30, 2020
Joe Biden telling trump to shut up is the highlight of my week. #Debatenight
— taylor (@TaylorHook1) September 30, 2020
— Rebel Knowledge (@RebelKnow) September 30, 2020
— as told by ginger (@specialnobodii) September 30, 2020
— Sabrina L. (@locklooneytune) September 30, 2020
“Will you shut up
The first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on Tuesday was marked by verbal jabs, name-calling and lots of crosstalk.
That hostility became instant meme fodder on social media.
Historically, presidential debates have been rife for memeing. The debates leading up to the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Trump were not only famously contentious but also a trove of timeless memes. Whether it was Trump leaning into the microphone proclaiming, “Wrong!” or Clinton shaking her shoulders after zinging Trump, many moments are still frequently used as gifs and memes on social media platforms like Twitter.
However, while many lamented online that Tuesday night’s debate was largely unproductive and stress-inducing as both Trump and Biden spoke over each other, several moments managed to permeate the chaos to become full-fledged memes.
Here’s our roundup of the best social media memes and moments from the first debate.
The Real (Debate) Housewives
As Trump and Biden bickered back and forth at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Twitter users began to compare the debate to Bravo’s “The Real Housewives” series.
“The Real Housewives,” a reality show that follows wealthy women in various cities and holds a reunion at the end of each season, often devolves into shouting matches and name-calling — not unlike the performances of Trump and Biden on the debate stage.
Bravo is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.
“This is more like a real housewives reunion than a debate lol,” tweeted Sean Garrette, an “ambassador” for Fenty Skin, a skincare company.