Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Noting that John Oliver is a master political satirist doesn’t quite do justice to his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” and what it has become. We are seeing something completely new in the merger of comedy and reporting. While funny and scathing in its political critique, the program is also smart and insightful in producing long-form journalism. Each week his crack team of writers and researchers don’t just resurface stories they find in the news and play them for comedic effect. More than once they break stories of critical importance, such as their report on the Sinclair Broadcast Group forcing its local news stations to carry mandated ideological scripts and read verbatim on the air (a story later taken up by The New York Times and Deadspin). When they took on big coal and the Murray Energy Corporation, Murray sent a cease-and-desist order with threats of a lawsuit before the story even ran. And of course, after the brutal 24-minute segment, the company did sue . . . a comedy show. While Last Week explores many of the issues of the day—President Trump, gerrymandering, and Equifax—they also file savvy and critical reports on much less sexy issues such as dialysis, economic development, and floods. It would be easy for Oliver to craft a show replicating the style and format of “The Daily Show,” where he got his big break. But “Last Week Tonight” receives a rare second Peabody Award for crafting a form that pushes both comedy and journalism in new, fresh, and publicly important directions.
Executive Producer: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, Liz Stanton. Director: Paul Pennolino. Writers: Tim Carvell, Josh Gondelman, Dan Gurewitch, Geoff Haggerty, Jeff Maurer, John Oliver, Scott Sherman, Ben Silva, Will Tracy, Jill Twiss, Seena Vali, Juli Weiner. Editors: Ryan Barger, Anthony Miale.
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