Last Week Tonight

Out of all the years I’ve followed political commentary, few shows have struck the delicate balance that Last Week Tonight has struck between being informative and being entertaining.

I usually prefer outlets that don’t have too much of a lean, and I like watching unique interviews from journalists I trust like Charlie Rose. I find watching BBC News to be a decent alternative to most US outlets since they tend to have less of a political bias being an ocean detached from the issues in play in American politics. And I usually shy away from comedic mediums for news. But I’ve found myself particularly drawn to Last Week Tonight’s approach to covering issues more and more, and it seems like they’re only getting better with every passing season.

Episodes are on average half an hour, which is impressive enough already. Few shows can hit on important issues for such a long period of time while also not losing the viewer’s attention halfway through. And it doesn’t hurt that John Oliver has a lovable British accent, and actively markets himself as being terrified of the wrong direction humanity is going on certain important topics.  It just adds a little bit of flavor to the experience.

Especially during a time where it feels many legitimate news outlets are consistently being discredited, it’s important for there to be an outlet where views contrary to reality look hilarious and ridiculous through the cunning use of actual facts. And I find that though they do have a pretty strong lean to the left, they still do try to explore multiple angles of an issue.

Out of all the years I’ve followed political commentary, few shows have struck the balance that Last Week Tonight has struck. It’s just the right blend of quality content mixed with absurd jokes that are barely contextually relevant enough to entertain you while maintaining your interest in the main topic of the show. And one of the more important topics he’s touched upon lately is the topic of net neutrality.

The most recent episode was a continuation of one made three years prior, and it’s a topic which will likely have sweeping implications if the laws do get altered. If changed, it would give internet providers the power to determine which websites would get priority over others, presumably for a fee. So companies would be able to pay service providers to give their sites priority over competitors. This would potentially leave room for greater monopolization by bigger players, since smaller companies might not be able to pay for higher prioritization over competitors, and have one additional hurdle in getting their feet off the ground. And potentially a crippling one, depending on how heavily internet service providers choose to wield their power.

That’s just skimming the top of the topic. And all things considered political topics are difficult to get anybody to care about since they can get so mind-numbingly boring when you get into the laws. So since it’s hard to understand, it’s hard to pay attention to. And the insidious build of these decisions in affecting everyday people negatively is a piece of the problem. Once there’s a problem present, and people of power are benefiting from the new state of affairs, it’s easy to muddy the waters and prevent people from ever getting to the root of what’s happening to prevent any meaningful movement in the right direction on issues. Which brings to mind a pretty poignant quote that I recall hearing in this first net neutrality video.

“If you want to do something evil, put it in something boring.”

It’s sad, just how well that works.

15 thoughts on “Last Week Tonight

  1. I like your opinion of the show. A lot of us are in the same frame of mine concerning news/media. I have found that through the comedy shows such as this and The Daily Show tend to lean a bit left, they are not above admitting that the left has plenty of fault, too. And quite frankly, I like to see through their looking glass – it sometimes brings up a point of view that hasn’t been considered. Just as your blog here puts to words the reason I prefer a show like this to CNN, MSNBC, or FOX.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s true they aren’t above admitting the faults of the left, of which there are many. And for sure they definitely bring a unique perspective to issues and show angles that I would never have thought of, in ways I just don’t find on shows like the big three you just listed. Though I still do watch their programming to get immediate scoops sometimes. Hopefully Last Week Tonight can keep cranking out quality content and fresh perspectives!!

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  2. No deaf ears from me, my friend. No being an ostrich. I wrote a post titled “Bicycle Race” / FCC. You should read it. My family is divided over net neutrality. Oscar, will you start following me? We’re all in this together, more so than ever before. Please read me! I’m not stupid. Yes, I used the F word a few times, and I was angry. BUT, it was better than repressing it. Take care. Your Rob

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hey my countryman, thanks for following me. I already follow you. I have two American followers now, and both guys. I’m very happy. I also have a South African, a Nigerian (!), two Brits, and a Yankee woman who’s into porn (oops). The other US guy is named Joseph Suglia, a professional screenwriter and critic. I’m having a good day.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with your summary Oscar. I also find myself catching up on this show regularly, which I can’t say about any other humour-driven current affairs show. Like you said, they’ve managed to find a nice balance; their injections of silliness pay off, as they can spend 15 minutes picking apart a very complex topic without losing the engagement of the viewers. It’s nice to see someone else thinks as highly of this show as I do, and then took the time to write about it so eloquently. Nice work.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree with your observations about Last Week Tonight. Oliver’s the only political commentator who can put out a 10+ minute long clip of an argument from his show that’s so good and convincing that people are somehow still down to watch the whole thing, get worked up about it, and share it. Great stuff

    Liked by 1 person

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