The expressions began with the first time the debate turned to Vice President Pence.
“Our nation has been through a very challenging time this year,” Pence said, responding to a question about the more than 210,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus. "But from the very first day, Donald Trump has put the health of America first.”
Sen. Kamala D. Harris leaned back in her chair.
Next came one raised eyebrow. Then two.
Finally, she leaned in toward her own mic.
It was a face with a clear message, recognized by viewers across the Twitter-sphere: Are you serious right now?
While debating Pence Wednesday night, Harris delivered plenty of pointed remarks, challenging the vice president to answer for the Trump administration’s record on coronavirus, health care and the Supreme Court. But some of her most memorable — and meme-able — debate moments occurred when she wasn’t the one speaking. On a split screen, she reacted to each point made by the vice president. And for many viewers, her face said it all.
Some said she reminded them of their mother: someone they most certainly would not want to cross.
Women applauded her for refusing to conceal her true thoughts and reactions.
It was refreshing, many women said, to see Harris employ a full range of facial expressions. Women’s faces are often policed, especially in professional settings. Women are told to “smile more” or avoid looking too angry or serious.
On Wednesday night, Harris appeared unconcerned with those gender norms.