Last night, I watched the final episode of the first season of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. For those of you who haven’t seen this AMAZING show, I highly recommend you subscribe to HBO (seriously, just pay for it) and tune in immediately. Although the idea of “news” implies one must be somewhat caught up – and let’s face it, who is ever caught up enough on current events, let alone TV shows – which has kept me from watching talk shows in the past, and generally makes me shy away from CNN so I don’t feel stupid, John Oliver’s show is its own, special type of beast.
His main stories every week tackle a new, ongoing issue in the news. I promise you, none of the issues covered by John Oliver have become irrelevant since his coverage. All of his stories are comprehensive, well-researched recaps of political and social issues that continue to affect society. As Salon magazine put it: “Oliver and his staff seem to recognize that the vital ingredient isn’t the gags, but the capacity to tell large and disturbing truths about these broken institutions.”
In other words: he digs deep. Deep enough, for example, to research the exact amount of money given away for college scholarships by the Miss America Pageant each year. Apparently his writers spent a whole week, like, up until 30 minutes before they were supposed to air, researching where the Miss America Pageant money went. Spoiler alert: it was hard to find, because there wasn’t that much money.
Here’s his takedown of the Miss America Pageant, in all its glory:
From FIFA’s completely corrupt World Cup Empire to For Profit Colleges and government-run gambling machines (read : State Lotteries), Oliver’s coverage makes me feel educated and aware in a different way than any other news program has. He summarizes things perfectly, makes me feel like I could keep him in my pocket as a replacement google, to have him explain things to me every time I don’t understand a social issue. I guess this is one of the benefits to having a week to prepare and write your show – you can synthesize research and present it in thoughtful, coherent, digestable packages! A novel concept, truly.
Long story short, I love John Oliver, and I am so sad that Last Week Tonight is ending, but sadder that I have to wait until 2015 to be informed about critical events again. I suppose I’ll just keep reading my Daily Skimm emails in the meantime?
But first, I’d like to collect some of my favorite John Oliver segments and share them with you. So now, this:
Okay, cool, now you’ve been properly introduced. Next, let’s celebrate the amazing “And Now, This:” segments, such as “HOW IS THIS STILL A THING?!” in which Oliver and his writers take down things that shouldn’t be a “thing” anymore. Like Columbus Day and celebrating Ayn Rand.
That was fun, wasn’t it? Cool, one more long one: The Supreme Court. (Then I’ll try to stop convincing you to watch this and let you get to calling Time Warner to buy HBO or maybe your parents to get their password.) Long story short, the Supreme Court doesn’t televise its sessions, but does allow the public to access audio recordings of them. BOOOOORING. So, to solve this problem, John Oliver took a page out of the YouTube book and assembled a team of dogs to create footage, and challenged the internet – as well as all cable and broadcast news networks – to use the footage as their own in the hopes that someone would create entertaining videos about what goes on in The Supreme Court. That’s right, FO’ FREE! The dogs are adorable. So is the Duck Stenographer.
Wait wait wait, sorry I meant two more. Here’s a video I took myself of my TV screen, then uploaded to YouTube myself because I am a generous soul who contributes to the Internet, of my favorite John Oliver moment of all time, in which he finds an audio recording of LBJ talking to his tailor about… well, I’ll just let you see below.
Now, go watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO! xo.