Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Season 2) / *****

imageIt’s kind of amazing how quickly Last Week Tonight became such an essential part of my week. It’s not like I didn’t already love Oliver, and it’s not like I wasn’t a fan of the show already. But as the show began to grow in popularity, it grew in guts, doing things far beyond what anyone expected any cable news show to do. Why only complain about cigarette ads when you can make a mascot of a diseased lung and market that in other countries? Why just talk about the loopholes in religious laws when you can create your own church and explain it all that way? And best of all, why just give the highlights about government surveillance when you can fly to Russia and interview Edward Snowden? But while the stunts were attention grabbing, it was Oliver who held it all together, delivering insight, outrage, commentary, and comedy in equal parts, and turning his spotlight onto issues worthy of debate but not always getting the coverage they deserved. Felons re-entering the workplace, the bail system, the abuse of the municipal violations system, and even chicken farming – Oliver covered it all with wit, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and concern. Yes, Trevor Noah has guided The Daily Show well after the departure of Jon Stewart, allowing the show to remain both relevant and effective. But in many ways, Oliver has taken the place of his mentor, becoming a public conscience with a sense of humor, an educator with a relentless tenacity, and just a welcome presence on my television. 5


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