Karl Puschmann on the US election

Like all the TV greats, Wednesday's grand finale of Election 2016 was a budget-busting spectacle that left viewers stunned in its wake.

You wanted entertainment? Here it was. It had high-stakes drama, gripping tension, jaw-dropping action and a villain you simply loved to hate.

And that plot twist at the end! Holy flippin' heck. Kudos, America, kudos. Because, honestly, I did not see that one coming.

There's no denying that this ending - which has already spurred thousands of think-pieces around the world - was a giant risk. And I'm not entirely convinced they pulled it off.


In attempting to satisfy fans who had invested heavily and stuck with it throughout its interminably long season, the producers are to be applauded. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. The problem is that by deviating so far from the script, building up to a nail-bitingly triumphant ending and then pulling the rug out from underneath fans at the last moment, I couldn't help but feel a little ... shortchanged.

As the credits rolled I couldn't shake Johnny Rotten's infamous last words with the Sex Pistols: "Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?".

Still, you can't deny Election 2016 was a truly wild ride of ups and downs. Concluding on such a downer is a gamble but it does set things up beautifully for next season.

It's been a worldwide phenomenon with global viewing numbers that were - to borrow a catchphrase - tremendous, so you'd think a second season is coming.

It's not being ruled out; the working title is Election 2020. But there's still a very real chance its breakout star and newly appointed showrunner Donald Trump could cancel it without warning at any time.

I really hope he doesn't.

Alex Casey on the US election

I spent a lot of Wednesday searching for a person in the televised election coverage whom I recognised.

Not like a celebrity, or a broadcaster, but someone who didn't seem like they were from that part in Mars Attacks where the aliens come down and try to disguise themselves as human beings.

Be it the red-faced men in red trucker hats cheering and piling on top of each other in joy, or the news presenters calmly hearing the words President Donald Trump roll off their own tongues without crying like a baby in a cartoon, these people were not humans I had seen before.

That was until I saw a little boy named Barron Trump, slowly swaying, green-faced, behind the President-elect. He did a yawn that somehow evolved gracefully into what looked like a small burp.

He looked shattered, despondent, barely summoning enough energy to blow his fringe out of his face. He was also the only person on television (perhaps because I was watching Fox) that was emoting anything close to how I felt.

Granted he probably wasn't fully comprehending what was happening in that exact moment but, to be honest, none of the rest of us were either.

Duncan Grieve on the US election

Wednesday had that surreal quality of watching history happening in front of you. A shocking event with unknowable implications, unfolding slowly, then with irresistible pace.

I watched it on Twitter, as jokes slowly turned to despair, walking the streets surrounding my house.

Mostly, I watched it on Fox News, at first in a hopelessly naive assumption that schadenfreude would be rolling through the afternoon, and later to see whether Karl Rove's head would pop like an over-ripe pimple from an overload of sheer pleasure.

The screen began with wide shots of two pundit-laden benches, then grew ever more crowded. By the climactic moments the anchor was reduced to a tiny box occupying less than a tenth of the screen's acreage, hemmed in on all sides by an expanding army of graphs, figures, results and exploding alerts.

Atop it all, a scene from Trump's victory celebrations, a sea of disturbingly young white men in Make America Great Again caps which had a "frat party celebrating end of the world" vibe.

It was a lot to take in.

If Fox provided the maximum possible intensity, TVNZ swung hardest the other way.

While Newshub recognised the magnitude of what was happening and stayed with the story for most of the night, first extending Story, then giving way to a 90-minute election special by Tom McCrae and Sam Hayes, TVNZ 1 looked history in the eye and turned on the oven. While Trump was making that surprisingly magnanimous acceptance speech, MasterChef played on, blissfully ignorant of the future of civilisation roiling in the background.

It was another example of the state broadcaster's indifference to its role, and TV3 - weakened and in the midst of a nightmare week - gamely battling on to deliver the closest thing we've got to public service television.

More evidence, on a night when we didn't require it, of what a weird, ass-backwards era we're living in.