The Best Fictional TV Debates

The third and final Presidential Debate airs tonight as we enter the final weeks of this horrid election season. To escape from real world politics, TV and City decided to look back on the best debates from our favorite shows.

Parks and Recreation: “The Debate” (Season 4, Episode 20)

Only in Pawnee can a City Council race become this crazy. In this episode, the beyond qualified Leslie Knope debates rich kid Bobby Newport, who is beloved by the public while he speaks without really saying anything (sound familiar?). Paul Rudd brings his best and adds to the hilarity of this already great comedy.

The West Wing: “The Debate” (Season 7, Episode 7)

Even without Aaron Sorkin as show-runner, this award-winning NBC drama had some highlights in its later seasons. Even though it features no original cast members, this episode is remarkable when you consider the fact it was performed and aired live. Yes, this episode is almost too liberal, but it’s worth watching this classic.

Veep: “The Debate” (Season 3, Episode 8)

Selina Meyer needs to take down multiple opponents in this half-hour, but she fails. They end up doing it to themselves, performing so badly it distracts voters from her bad haircut and twitch. We also get a look at how her staff tries to “spin” her performance, much like real life.

House of Cards: “Chapter 37” (Season 3, Episode 11)

President Underwood’s debate isn’t the entire episode, but it does take up a large chunk. Complete with guest-star moderators and CNN branding, the Netflix drama made the tension seem real.

Community: “Debate 109” (Season 1, Episode 9)

The topic of the debate: Is humanity inherently good or inherently evil? But even with disgraced lawyer Jeff Winger on their side, the Greendale debate team has some trouble arguing their side. Of course, everything works out in the end. This episode is also remembered by fans for exploring the Jeff/Annie relationship.

The Good Wife: “The Debate” (Season 6, Episode 12)

Critics lauded this episode for dealing with the topical issues in Ferguson at the time. You might have even forgotten there was a debate at the center of it all. Alicia and Frank Prady’s debate is interrupted by a jury’s verdict about a black man killed by police. They actually filmed this episode before the trial in Ferguson, making the timing that much more remarkable.

Modern Family: “Little Bo Bleep” (Season 3, Episode 3)

Claire is running for city council, but crowds find her angry and unlikable. Her family helps out with debate prep, throwing everything at her. The actual debate however, does… not go well.

Some honorable mentions:

The West Wing: “Game On” (Season 4, Episode 6)

Boy Meets World: “I Am Not A Crook” (Season 2, Episode 14)

Gilmore Girls: “It Should’ve been Lorelai” (Season 2, Episode 14)

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