In 2016, the days when Donald Trump was just a crazed property magnate seem rosy – a simpler, more naïve time. David Bowie was alive, Brexit just sounded like a strange Pig Latin construction, and, while Trump still insisted on popping up on our TV screens, the words “Donald” “Trump” and “president” were never used in the same sentence.
It’s often been noted that Trump has made an enormous number of pop culture cameos: before running for president, he appeared in Sex and the City, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Zoolander, and Da Ali G Show to name a few. But, of course, Trump wouldn’t agree to appear in anything less than a flattering light, and in these cameos he’s pictured being nice to lost children, or causing characters to pass out from the sheer excitement of being near him.
It’s the casual, offhand references that give a better insight into how Trump was viewed before his candidacy – as simply a punchline. So here are the best pre-election Donald Trump references in popular culture. To the modern ear, they clang lounder than pots and pans tumbling down a staircase – but maybe that just adds to the joy.
Designing Women (“Marriage Most Foul”, 1991)
I don’t understand the context behind Julia Sugarbaker’s call to Donald Trump, but I love it anyway:
Hello? Mr. Trump? I hope I’m not disturbing you. I’m just calling you to say, on behalf of the American public: Mr. Trump, we no longer care who you date, we really don’t. You are no longer obligated to alert the news media every time your pants are on fire because we don’t care. So please feel free to fire all your hacks, flacks and publicists employed for this purpose because — and I repeat — we don’t care! Who am I? Who am I? Well, you’ve never met me, but you can just call me “The Julia”.
Friends (“The One With Phoebe’s Uterus”, 1998)
According to Friends trivia sites, this one very nearly didn’t make it in in full – the line “Donald Trump wants his blue blazer back,” was apparently fluffed by Matthew Perry, but the ensuing dialogue was funny enough to stay.
Sex and the City (Pilot, 1998)
When Samantha spots Mr Big in the very first episode of Sex and the City, how does she describe him? Tall, dark and handsome? The kind of guy who probably appreciates a woman with a bag full of condoms? No! She says to Carrie, “You see that guy? He’s the next Donald Trump – except he’s younger and much better looking.”
The Simpsons (“Bart to the Future”, 2000)
This one has aged incredibly well. It’s 2030 – Liza Simpson is POTUS, and she’s inherited “quite the budget crunch from President Trump”. In fact, the country is “broke”. In related news, Matt Groening is clearly a fortune teller. Burn the witch! Burn the witch!
Gilmore Girls (“The Ins and Outs of Inns”, 2001)
Sookie and Lorelai are looking to buy an inn – when they finally get a hold of the title to their dream property, Lorelai asks Sookie to guess who owns it. “Tell me it’s not that bastard Donald Trump,” she says shaking her head. But no! It’s just their friendly neighbour Fran, not, in Lorelai’s words, “some cigar-chomping, dirty-dealing city slicker!”