The comedic satire show is currently airing its 4th season, and has been so successful there’s even talk in politics of “The John Oliver effect”. The John Oliver effect refers to the way Last Week Tonight can break down even the most complex political topics to allow it to be easily digested by people, who can then pressure representatives for change. This first showed itself in net neutrality, which covers the belief that Internet Service Providers should treat all parts of the internet the same. Net neutrality was covered in the show and the resulting pressure saw that the FCC in America passed strong laws covering net neutrality. How many other TV shows can you say actively help to get people involved in politics to such a degree that they can put pressure on governmental bodies?
John Oliver himself has a past in comedy. From appearing on Mock the Week in the UK to getting his break in America with The Daily Show, as well as guest starring in shows such as Rick and Morty. Last Week Tonight is a collaborative project with him and many others, from researchers, to writers, to those with backgrounds in journalism.
The genius of Last Week Tonight is that it takes topics that aren’t discussed, or properly understood, and brings them into the forefront of people’s minds. From gerrymandering, to Tibetan sovereignty, to subprime loans, to debt buying (one of his most popular episodes, whereby the show buys out and cancels a large amount of unknown debts), to the difficulties the US is having in legalising cannabis without it being legal at a federal level, the show covers topics from all across the world, from all walks of life, and shines a light on them, showing people exactly what’s going on.
Perhaps more famously, John Oliver is known for his scathing attacks on Donald Trump over the past 18 months or so on the show. From tearing apart the border wall proposals, to examining the Republican replacement proposals for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Oliver is always on top of whatever the latest controversy surrounding the 45th President of the United States is.
Indeed, this is perhaps why it is intriguing that John Oliver actually has supporters in Conservative corners. For example, prominent conservative Youtube personality Colin Moriarty has in the past stated his praise and support for Last Week Tonight and John Oliver himself, stating how his own work was inspired by the show. I can’t think of any other political shows which have such outward support from opposing viewpoints.
So, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is the one political TV series you have to be watching. The show is inspiring, the host is hilarious, and you might just learn about a topic you didn’t know you had to be interested in.
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