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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Old 11-04-14, 01:46 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

I get that the show's just a comedy, and isn't intended as "serious political discourse". And yes, when he's on a topic I agree with him on, it's pretty funny... but when I disagree with him, it's a "slanted rant with cherry-picked facts". But last Sunday's episode, about state legislatures, was pretty bad:

- There are 7,383 state legislators in the US, yet he's only able to come up with four ridiculous campaign ads?

- There are 7,383 state legislators in the US, yet he's only able to come up with three examples of ridiculous behavior?

- Is there any circumstance where you could have 7,383 people talking about political issues and not have something liberals or conservatives wouldn't object to?

- Congress has only passed 185 laws, but 50 smaller legislatures have passed over 24,000 laws? No shit, really? Still, that's only 480 bills per legislature, and if even 10% of those bills are silly ceremonial ones (like making jumping jacks the "official state exercise"), then that number goes down even more.

- Using minimum wage raises or recognizing gay marriage as examples of state legislatures doing "good things"? Not biased at all.

- Using abortion figures from Melissa Harris-Perry? She's as biased to the left as Fox News is to the right, but she agrees with Oliver, so I guess we'll overlook that.

- Oliver makes fun of the New Hampshire legislature for having 424 members. The WHOLE POINT of doing so - as in, the actual, real-world reason why this is - is that having so many members makes it difficult to corrupt or bribe them. Which you think Oliver would be for, not against.

- Full-time or part-time legislatures? Seriously, who cares? If anything, full-time legislatures cost more money in terms of salaries and staff and have more possibilities for corruption than part-time ones.

- I'm not sure I get his point about legislative oversight. I mean, generally speaking, the legislature is the sovereign body of the state. By definition it HAS to oversee itself. Sure, you could appoint some kind of "standards committee", but then you just wind up with a corrupt legislature and a corrupt standards committee. Didn't Huey Long teach us anything?

- Oliver doesn't really mention political parties in this rant, but I love how he skips over the fact that Hawaii's legislature is the most Democratic in the nation: 88% of the seats are held by Democrats.

- Oliver uses figures from the Center for Public Integrity to discuss state ethic committees. That group was founded by former 60 Minutes producer Charles Lewis. The organization's Wikipedia page says "CPI has been characterized as "progressive", "nonpartisan," "independent," and a "liberal group".

- Again, not to pick on parties, but weren't all the Massachusetts legislators Oliver mentions Democrats?

- I like how Oliver skips over the fact that Leland Yee was considered one of the foremost gun control advocates in California before he was caught running guns to Islamist extremists in the Philippines.

- Do I need to mention this again? Rhode Island legislators Dominick Ruggerio and Frank Ciccone are Democrats.

- ALEC is the devil... even though almost every single example of a corrupt legislator Oliver uses are Democrats. It's like Oliver is ranting about how evil the NCAA is by using FSU players as examples, but not mentioning that his examples are FSU players, and that he's a dues-paying member of the FSU Athletic Association.

- ALEC is evil, but its liberal counterpart - the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange, or ALICE - is 100% A-OK. Remember, the Koch Brothers are evil, but MoveOn isn't.

- 25% of state legislature candidates are running unopposed? No shit... really? I'm surprised it's that low, actually.
Old 11-04-14, 02:13 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

it's only a half hour show. I'm sure if they wanted to, they could make an 8 hour epic on the inconsistency and stupidity of the potential elected offices.
Old 11-04-14, 02:21 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Here's the segment of the show being discussed:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIMgfBZrrZ8


Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum View Post
- There are 7,383 state legislators in the US, yet he's only able to come up with four ridiculous campaign ads?

- There are 7,383 state legislators in the US, yet he's only able to come up with three examples of ridiculous behavior?
The show is only a half hour long. The examples were meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive.

Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum View Post
- Is there any circumstance where you could have 7,383 people talking about political issues and not have something liberals or conservatives wouldn't object to?
Which is kinda the point of the segment: there's a lot of legislation happening at the state level, yet most people don't really involve themselves in state politics, so these state legislatures and their congresspeople can get away with impunity acts and laws that the people in their districts would be extremely upset about if it happened on a national level.

It's the same thing with the number of laws: a far greater amount of legislation is happening on the state level (over twice as many on average per state than at the national level), yet nobody pays attention.


The bits about the size of each legislature and length of each session was to point out how varied each was. He joked about the extremes, but it was mostly an aside. The real point was that people think of state legislatures as miniature versions of the Federal one, but they actually vary to a great degree.

Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum View Post
I'm not sure I get his point about legislative oversight. I mean, generally speaking, the legislature is the sovereign body of the state. By definition it HAS to oversee itself.
His point was the oversight seems lax, as in the case of the state senator that self-reported a possible conflict of interest (voting on an economic impact bill while getting paid by plastics and styrofoam) and was told that there was no conflict.

And he cited that 28 of the 41 state ethics commissions got a D grade or worse.

Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum View Post
Oliver uses figures from the Center for Public Integrity to discuss state ethic committees. That group was founded by former 60 Minutes producer Charles Lewis. The organization's Wikipedia page says "CPI has been characterized as "progressive", "nonpartisan," "independent," and a "liberal group".
Wait, so are "nonpartisan" and "independent" considered bad terms for a center for public integrity?

ALEC is the devil... even though almost every single example of a corrupt legislator Oliver uses are Democrats.
ALEC was villainized not for "corrupting" politicians, but because it's an example of a national group paying attention to state legislatures when most people don't. It's basically saying "you need to pay attention to your state legislature, because major corporations, lobbies, and other political powers certainly are."

ALICE may be an equal problem from the other side, but as Oliver pointed out ALEC was the source of laws concerning many issues their show already addressed: payday loans, private prisons, and for-profit colleges. So it was a perfect example of this type of bill mill for their purposes and their main audience.

Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum View Post
25% of state legislature candidates are running unopposed? No shit... really? I'm surprised it's that low, actually.
Again, the main thrust of this segment was towards people who don't pay attention to state legislatures, so this statistic would come as a surprise to them. Even if it's not a surprise, it's still likely a problem that should be addressed, and it could at least be partially resolved if more people paid more attention to their state politics.


As for the bias, yes the show has a progressive viewpoint, but I don't think that really hurt the main point of the segment.
Old 11-04-14, 02:26 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

BTW, their Youtube Channel just hit 1 million subscribers, and they released a short web video in celebration:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXCbffp7jLM
Old 11-04-14, 02:46 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

I too continue to watch this show and look forward to it every week. I routinely get a few chuckles out of it, but what I like most about it, oddly enough, is his delivery and the scripted language. There's something about the style that is just so efficient in many ways that it's impressive to listen to. Does the show have liberal leanings? Yes. Does the message typically align w/those leanings? Probably. However, politics aside, it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the show.
Old 11-04-14, 05:17 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

I'm on a first-name basis with the Illinois legislator who threw the screaming fit on the floor of the Statehouse, although it's been years since I've seen him. He is, in fact, a hothead.

Not surprisingly, he's probably going to be elected to the U.S. Congress today. So get ready, America.
Old 11-04-14, 06:48 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Geofferson View Post
I too continue to watch this show and look forward to it every week. I routinely get a few chuckles out of it, but what I like most about it, oddly enough, is his delivery and the scripted language. There's something about the style that is just so efficient in many ways that it's impressive to listen to. Does the show have liberal leanings? Yes. Does the message typically align w/those leanings? Probably. However, politics aside, it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the show.
I would say it is the most centrist political show I have ever seen
Old 11-04-14, 07:14 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by johnnysd View Post
I would say it is the most centrist political show I have ever seen
Absolutely agree. Definitely the most centrist political humor show. But probably the most centrist overall as well.
Old 11-05-14, 02:37 AM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Rex Fenestrarum View Post
Long as post of rambling
What are you trying to say? That state legislature in the US is perfect and flawless?
Old 11-06-14, 04:46 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

So the "season finale" is this weekend's episode:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3Md3O_XfoI

I hadn't really thought of this show operating in seasons; I guess i figured it'd be like the Daily Show where it's on most of the time with the occasional week off.

I can't find any info on when season 2 starts, but looking at "Real Time with Bill Maher" seasons, that show tends to end in November and come back some time in January/February.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...Maher_episodes
Old 11-06-14, 05:51 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

That sucks. I thought the same thing.
Old 11-10-14, 08:38 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Well, the finale aired last night, and they had a bit that must've been in development for months where Oliver threw salmon at a lot of celebrities.

The show is coming back Feb 8, 2015.


Also, I learned that the theme music is based on an actual song, "Go" by Valle Lodge.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAPjTHA19Kw
Old 11-24-14, 08:56 AM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Even though the show is on a break, it looks like "web exclusive" videos will still be released from time to time. Here's the new one for Thanksgiving:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/X8Buy2X0kFo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Old 11-24-14, 09:13 AM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by dhmac View Post
Even though the show is on a break, it looks like "web exclusive" videos will still be released from time to time. Here's the new one for Thanksgiving:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/X8Buy2X0kFo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
I'm guessing they filmed this during their final episode, due to the audience, although it is funny to think that they'd bring in an audience solely to shoot a 2 minute bit.

Interestingly, the first turkey pardon apparently was done as a joke, by Ronald Reagan, in reference to whether he'd pardon Oliver North for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. Also, for a while, the pardoned turkeys were sent to either Disneyland or Disney World, where they acted as marshals in the Thankgiving Day Parade. Most die a year after being pardoned, since food turkeys aren't bred for longevity.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationa...y_Presentation

So I'm guessing there will also be some non-topical bits about Christmas and New Years, then maybe MLK day.

Last edited by Jay G.; 11-24-14 at 09:19 AM.
Old 01-07-15, 09:59 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Well, about a week late posting it here, but they did a bit on New Year's Eve:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAFnby2184o

The show comes back in a month.
Old 01-26-15, 02:05 PM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

One more (last?) web exclusive before the show comes back.

Fifty Shades #NotMyChristian Apology (Web Exclusive)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPloDzu_wcI
Old 02-08-15, 09:51 AM
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re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Season 2 starts tonight! (Feb 8th)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P1EtSBxm0S4" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Old 02-17-15, 03:40 PM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Renewed for 2 years. I wonder if they did this now, to make sure Oliver couldn't and wouldn't jump ship to the Daily Show: http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/358...two-more-years

HBO has given John Oliver’s satirical Sunday-night program “Last Week Tonight” a two season renewal, keeping the show on the network through 2017.

The show had a 24-episode first season in 2014, an order that was expanded to a 35-episode second season which began airing earlier this month. Both the ordered third and fourth seasons are expected to consist of 35 episodes each.

The move also ends speculation that the British comic would succeed Jon Stewart at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” where Oliver made his name on TV.

Source: Variety
Old 02-17-15, 04:12 PM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Good news.

I think the start of this new season has been awesome so far. Such a good fucking show.
Old 02-17-15, 06:48 PM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Off hand, I still think he had everything that it took to replace Stewart on TDS and still have it be pretty close to where it is in being able to go after the news and politicians seriously and attract top notch guests.

I can't think of anyone else off hand who's shown that they can be good at it and have the kind of gravitas needed to have people really take him seriously. I mean, I really like Sam Bee (although I really don't think she would even want the job, as it seems she's been working less since she has had children), but even if she took the job, would she have anywhere near the impact Stewart did, no matter how funny she is? And Jason Jones would be the same. I never thought Jessica Williams was an option, but she's taken herself out of the running by saying she's not ready to even do something like host TDS.

Oliver is killing it this year on HBO and just smoked the Tobacco companies in a way maybe only Colbert and/or Stewart could at the moment imo.

Last edited by dolphinboy; 02-17-15 at 07:32 PM.
Old 02-17-15, 07:24 PM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

That tobacco segment was very very good.
Old 02-17-15, 07:34 PM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by Deftones View Post
Renewed for 2 years. I wonder if they did this now, to make sure Oliver couldn't and wouldn't jump ship to the Daily Show: http://www.darkhorizons.com/news/358...two-more-years
Possibly, HBO can't let him get away right now, it's their most "viral" show and he sort made Bill Maher look dated by comparison, letting him run off to Daily Show would be a huge blow for them.
Old 02-18-15, 03:59 AM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Originally Posted by BDB View Post
That tobacco segment was very very good.
No it was amazing
Old 02-18-15, 05:46 PM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Love that they are doing 35 episode seasons.
Old 03-17-15, 10:25 AM
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Re: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - Series Discussion Thread

Excellent take on the NCCA this week:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/pX8BXH3SJn0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

#soybeanwind

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