Must-see Monday

The appeal of new faces, the return of old favorites; stories you know by heart, plot twists you never saw coming. There’s something for everyone in the new television season – and none of us can wait for tomorrow night, when the year’s best show has its fall premiere.

They’re saying this could be the most watched presidential debate in history. The storylines are endless: will Donald Trump look presidential? Will Hillary Clinton look healthy? Will Trump lose his temper? Will Clinton be as relaxed at a podium as she was between two ferns?

We’ll all be watching, whether we’re deplorable or not.

What a gift that word was. Maybe the Trump campaign did the polite thing and sent the Clinton team a thank-you note.

The Us-versus-Them dichotomy is extraordinarily powerful as a communications technique, but the blowback risk is high: when those who you identify as Them rally around their status as outsiders – when the Others embrace their Otherness and draw group cohesion from it – then you’d better be ready to backpedal.

Or not. You can also double down.

Let’s imagine the back-and-forth on Monday. At some point, the D-word will come up – we all know it will – and perhaps Trump will say something like this:

“Hillary, it outraged me to hear you use the word “deplorable” to describe our fellow Americans. It outrages me to think that you believe yourself worthy of leading our country when you believe that half of our population is worthy only of your derision. There are no deplorable American citizens. As the Pledge of Allegiance states, we are ‘one nation, under God, indivisible.’ Your rhetoric only works to divide.”

Now, if you’re Hillary Clinton, you can backpedal. You can apologize. You can run away from the word you used. Or – you can make Must-See Monday a day none of us can forget:

“I agree with you, Donald. There are no deplorable American citizens – not even you. There are only deplorable beliefs: beliefs that would drive us apart based on the color of our skin and not the content of our character. Beliefs that would not have us do unto others as we would have them do unto us, but would have us cast the first stone. I agree with you, Donald. There are no deplorable Americans – there is only a man who panders to a heart of darkness inside each one of us. It is only your beliefs that are deplorable, Donald. It is only your policies, and the way in which you use them to divide us.”

To which Trump might say: “So what you’re saying is that I’m the Pied Piper and my supporters, millions of whom are watching us right now, you’re saying that they’re naïve fools who have been duped into following me? You called them deplorable – and now you’re calling them stupid?”

To which Clinton might say: “I’m calling you a snake oil salesman, Donald. You’re selling medicine that destroys the body instead of healing it. I’m calling you a snake oil salesman, and I will work tirelessly until Election Day to ensure that the American people, this one nation under God and indivisible, sees you for exactly what you are.”

Monday night. The fall premiere of the final season of the year’s best show. Characters you love. Characters you love to hate.

We'll all be watching.