Best Television of 2014: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
The Salmon Cannon, breakdancing Lincoln, #NotMyChristian, and Putin's sexy space geckos.
When The Daily Show’s longtime host Jon Stewart needed to follow his dreams and spend the summer of 2013 in Jordan filming his directorial debut Rosewater, the audience was dubious that anyone could successfully fill his shoes, but just like Mary Poppins, a whimsical visitor from England appeared on our televisions and made their way into our hearts. The nerdy, very-British John Oliver was the perfect interim Daily Show host, complete with his own signature bits (Carlos Danger, anyone?). Oliver was so perfect, in fact, that HBO offered him his own weekly comedy news show, even though they weren’t looking for another comedian-behind-a-news-desk show. How’s that for a first impression?
The result of Oliver’s talent and HBO’s trust is Last Week Tonight—an exceptionally accurate and hilarious news show that has taken on the likes of FIFA, the student and payday loan systems, LGBT rights in Uganda, the Washington Redskins, and the Scottish independence referendum. Unlike The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, which tape four nights a week, Oliver’s team hones in on the whole week’s best jokes and most pointed quips for ridiculous costumes and skits about sexy space geckos or breakdancing Lincoln. Every block of his show is brilliantly written with just enough humor to help the audience hear the harsh truths about our society. Remember, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.—Bailey Pennick