Continually amazed by John Oliver and HBO’s Last Week Tonight. In a very short time, Oliver has managed to make his show must-see viewing among the myriad options available on Sundays. And he’s done it by covering issues a lot of Americans could care less about: Net Neutrality, FIFA, Climate Change, GM and the Death Penalty. These are, for the most part, sensitive topics that need more explanation than you’re going to find on a 30 second news bit.
Not that he’s doing anything different than The Daily Show or The Colbert Report – the show is a direct transplant of his time behind The Daily Show desk in 2013 – but his take is a little more reasoned, a little less bombastic than either Stewart or Colbert can afford to be within the constraints of ad-supported television. HBO has even made clips of the show available outside its subscriber base via YouTube.
Tonight’s centerpiece topic of Immigration was particularly effective. Oliver’s personal perspective and plea to treat immigrants as if they may have something to offer the country was capped off by a revision of An American Tail to An Actual American Tail: “Next summer, bring the family, and watch the heartwarming tale of Fievel become both inmate and executioner in a prison of his own mind.” Pretty brutal stuff, but because of the ability to wring every last ounce of humor possible due to the week long lead time, delivered via a universally beloved cartoon. Subversive television is hard to find, thankfully its found a home at HBO.