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7 Things To Do Instead of Watching the U.S. Presidential Debates Tonight


If you have the emotional fortitude to watch the United States presidential debate tonight, I salute you! I also recommend that you do so with our official Bingo card in your hand, so that you have some jokes written by your internet pals here at The Mary Sue to keep you company on your undoubtedly depressing TV journey tonight.

If you don’t feel up to watching the debates tonight, don’t feel guilty. I’m with you on this. I may tune in for a bit, but I’m not excited about it, and I’m not sure how long I’m going to last. If you’re a regular reader here at The Mary Sue, then I think we all know which of these two candidates definitely won’t get your vote, so it seems a bit silly to say it’s your “duty” to tune in (it’s not, in my opinion, especially if you already know who’s got your vote). And if you’re anything like me, then you’re also very depressed that almost zero actual political “debate” will likely unfold on tonight’s stage. Instead, it’ll just be The Donald Trump Circus, and that’s a show I’ve seen before. And I hate it.

After all, it’s not even possible for me to discuss the disagreements that I have with Hillary Clinton’s platform without having to quickly add that I’m well aware the other candidate has the support of white supremacists (and has even given signals to them that he’s cool with that), not to mention he has a whole lot of other terrifying skeletons in his closet, a well-known personality problem, and [the list goes on and on and on–like, seriously, it’s absurd]. Given the circumstances, it’s therefore impossible to imagine how tonight could be construed as “fair,” when the real unfairness is that we all have to act like this election makes any sense whatsoever. It’s going to be hard to stave off the existential horror tonight.

So. I have a list of suggestions, if you don’t want to watch the debate. Or, if you do start watching and need to bail out. Try these!

1.) Re-watch all of The Legend of Korra

It’s all on Amazon Prime right now, and I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it this week. Okay, well, technically you have to pay for the fourth season. But the rest of it is on there.

2.) Wander around outdoors

Here in the Northeast, the grip of impending global warming has loosened ever so slightly into a cool, crisp, autumnal breeze. It’s going to rain for the rest of the week, but tonight, it’s actually pretty nice out. Even if you live in a place where it’s still super hot out, it’ll probably be nice after the sun sets. Go explore a nearby park or visit a monument you’ve never seen before!

3.) Cook yourself something special

When I’m feeling down or avoiding the problems of the world, I like to take the time to prepare something tasty to eat. My favorite accompaniment to cooking: watching The Great British Bake-Off, ideally while rolling out pastry dough on my countertop. It’s a light-hearted reality show where the contestants actually help each other out and have a great attitude about losing, so it’s very different from, say, Chopped or Top Chef. There’s one season on Netflix now, and there’s a bunch more for free on YouTube.

4.) Read all of Black Panther Vol. 1

Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s best-selling Black Panther series has just been collected into its very first trade paperback, available now! There’s nothing like curling up with a good book to offload some life-related stress. And it’ll also give you a little more hope about the world to read some fantastic superhero fare and remember, “Hey, this book exists, and it has been successful. Maybe things are not actually that bad.” (Things are still bad. But like. You know. Not everything is bad.)

5.) Brew some iced tea

The thing about iced tea is that it requires a lot of advanced preparation. Cold-brewing iced tea can be done, of course, but it doesn’t always bring out all the nuance of the flavors of the tea, so if you want some high-quality iced tea, you have to boil water first, brew the tea the normal way, and then wait a whole day while it cools off in the fridge. Tonight is a great time to deal with that chore, and it’ll be all cooled off in time for tomorrow afternoon when you want a glass. I recommend raspberry tea with some lemon squeezed inside. Yum!

6.) Check out the Resident Evil 7 demo (free for PlayStation Plus users)

Or, really, just get caught up on your video gaming backlog (we all know you have one, everyone has one). If you’d like to get scared of ghosts and zombies and isolated, creaky farmhouses instead of, say, the election, the RE7 demo is short and it’s also free! Assuming you have PS Plus, anyway.

7.) Take care of a plant

The extent of my “gardening” prowess involves watering two plants that I keep on my windowsill, but even that small action makes me feel a twinge of pride, knowing that I can keep something else alive in my home besides me. (Plus, take my word for it: it’s a good depression mitigator.) If you have a real garden outside, or you’d like to have one, tonight would be a great time to go pick up a plant or two and grow yourself a little hope, right in your own backyard. It’s almost fall, so that means it’s a good time to grow some cool-weather plants like veggies. You might want to get ready to grow your own food anyway, what with our impending post-societal apocalypse and all …. sorry, got too real for a second there. Just go water a plant, okay?

Good luck keeping your chin up tonight, friends! Feel free to make your own coping suggestions in the comments. The world can seem unfeeling and horrifying, but at least we have each other.

(image via Giphy)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (, and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (