How John Oliver Is Changing TV

Above: HBO's 'Last Week Tonight' is a movement
Above: HBO's 'Last Week Tonight' is a movement

John Oliver’s late night reign continued Sunday night with a satirical assault on the FIFA executive committee, an organization recently making news for all the wrong reasons. This is the Daily Show alum’s second story about the soccer institution, exposing its devastating corruption and the World Cup’s horrifying affect on its host nations. The piece memorably included Oliver mocking a blissfully ignorant FIFA president who read an Onion article as if it were fact. But while the show is enjoyable as ever, the real brilliance of Last Week Tonight is partially due to the ripple effect it has outside of its Sunday time slot.

Now broadcasting little over a year, Last Week Tonight more than fills the void of Stephen Colbert’s absence and will do the same for Jon Stewart when he steps down later this summer. When the show’s lead segment lands on Youtube a day later, it racks up millions of views. This public admittance is all part of the show’s mission to inform and entertain. While Jon Stewart’s desk acknowledged societal wrongdoings, Oliver mobilizes his fans for change. When you finish a viewing of Last Week, and are riled up from some injustice or display of stupidity, there’s always a call to action that follows. Oliver bargains with us: Go tell those idiots how dumb they are, so we don’t have to revisit this story in the near future.

While new Daily Show host Trevor Noah, will undoubtedly present us with a different and refreshing angle, Oliver will continue his dominance through Last Week‘s” consistent relevancy and razor-sharp wit. Despite the arrival of Noah and the addition of both “Larry WIlmore” and Samantha Bee” to the fold, Last Week stands alone through its bold presentation, excellent research, and mobilizing effect. The show is more in line with Dateline and the Fifth Estate, rather than the fast paced nature of the Daily Show or Colbert Report respectively. Oliver truly is a different beast. His program makes us cringe just as much as it makes us laugh, which thankfully, is quite a lot.

Oliver stated previously that he was afraid of his single, weekly appearances being overshadowed by the consumption of other daily contemporaries. And sure, if the writing team decided to produce segments of similar nature, the show would likely be overlooked. The disadvantages of broadcasting at the end of the week seems irrelevant given how Oliver sits with ideas and presents thoroughly investigative monologues on singular, evergreen issues.The format wouldn’t work if the team approached news with a compilation of one note jokes, much like Saturday Night Live does week in and week out. In fact, Weekend Update is a prime example of just how dwindling a voice can become when committing itself to an overdone format.

Often times with Last Week, the segments become just as educational as they are purely comedic. While the same can be said of other programs, it proves difficult trying to recite bullet points of other competing satires. By getting blacklisted by the Thai government, calling on fans to sign petitions regarding net neutrality, and proposing to strike FIFA by drinking watered down alcohol, John Oliver certainly gets his message across. He’s the cool professor, the one that blows your mind and gets the class caring about things they didn’t even realize they cared about.The revolution is already being televised. Last Week Tonight is required viewing and we suggest you do so immediately.

Aidan D'Aoust

Aidan D'Aoust

Aidan is a writer from Toronto. His favourite things in the world are music, movies, and mini dachshunds. Give him a follow on Twitter at @aidandaoust, where he’ll also accept your mixtape submissions.

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