Comedy Central’s The President Show has consistently provided a surreally insightful window deep into Donald Trump’s head, mainly because of the stellar impression work of Anthony Atamanuik. Spinning his undeniably on-point portrayal into a weekly exploration of the cavernous, boundless abyss of egomaniacal, racist madness currently occupying the Oval Office, Atamanuik’s take on satirizing Donald Trump is less about mannerism and more about variations on the theme of warrantless confidence and yawning need. On Thursday’s first-season finale, Atamanuik’s Trump saw the mounting pressures of the job, plummeting approval ratings, worldwide ridicule, and the accelerating Robert Mueller investigation of him and his administration finally come to a head, sending Trump off into some increasingly unnerving places in search for relief.
After his usual press room opening devolved even further than usual into fact-averse pugnaciousness (he pulls a knife at one point), Atamanuik’s Trump found himself fleeing the harsh reality of nosy reporters and looming disgrace in favor of the safety of his self-created safe spaces. But even there, Trump couldn’t escape. A patriotically manly truck driver let him drive his big rig (like Trump loves doing), only for it to plummet into the river. His Mr. Rogers-esque land of self-justifying make believe was in ruins, crushed by the weight of too much scandal and failure. Even the usually safely silly interview segment (here with Joe Cirincione, president of the anti-nuclear-weapon Ploughshares Fund) devolved into enmity, Trump’s signature bulletproof denial invaded by arch enemy (and first episode guest) Keith Olbermann, there to plug his new book, Trump Is Fucking Crazy. Finally urged to go deeper by his wounded imaginary friends, Trump found himself in one of those infinite white voids, where he met—himself.
Or rather, he met Lewis Black, who explained that he was Trump’s “last shred of self-awareness,” and therefore desperately attempting to pull him back from the edge. Accusing Trump (or himself) of having “ridden to power on the darkest forces of American culture,” and of being “a threat to humanity and a disgrace to the world,” the irascible Black ran up against the immovable object that is Donald Trump’s unearned sense of entitlement. “I’m bored now,” Atamanuik’s Trump brushed off his conscience’s last flicker of resistance, before returning to the real world. There, the Oval Office filling with river water, Atamanuik’s president signed off this first season of The President Show with the chilling prediction that “as the levels of corruption, cynicism, and hate continue to rise, you continue to sink” under the rule of “a sad old man in over his head.” As water poured from the ceiling, Donald Trump intoned, “There’s no escape.” (Especially since Atamanuik and company are returning for The President Show Christmas Special, coming on November 30.) He comes back. He always comes back.