Last Week Tonight With John Oliver – Analysis

This week, I watched HBO’s TV show, “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.”  This show is both political and comedy.  If I were watching this TV show 20 years from now, I would be able to tell that it was from the first decade of the 21st century easily. There are numerous references to current (as of this post) President Obama and Federal Justice Antonin Scalia. There are also references to other TV shows such as 24 and information about issues happening currently. This program connects to current political events because this week the main story was about torture, something that is being widely debated currently over what happened during the Iraq War.

Viewers most likely to watch this program are most likely liberal Democrats, as this show caters to them on issues like torture, the death penalty, and many more. The writers aim for both saying accurate information and comedy, such as with the Kiefer Sutherland clips. Because this is an HBO TV show, there are no ads, and instead, John Oliver takes a swipe at the Bud Light Lime alcoholic drink.

This show airs weekly on Sunday nights at 11 PM. Starting this upcoming week, a new show airs before Last Week Tonight, called “The Brink” starring Jack Black. That airs at 10:30 PM, with Last Week Tonight following that, and then the second season of “True Detective,” starring Colin Ferrell and Vince Vaughn. Last Week Tonight is now being used in order to elevate the other shows so people notice them. If someone watches Last Week Tonight, then they might watch the beginning of True Detective’s second season and decide to watch it. There is no flow between the three shows currently. This program may appeal to the same viewers, but as “The Brink” is a new show and “True Detective” is now in its second, it is hard to tell without knowledge of either of those shows or a track record for the former.

The first thing that happens in the show is John Oliver talking about smaller stories, which this week were Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijan’s involvement in the European games and record with interactions for the press, and a Canadian Senate scandal. Then came a special segment about “Newscasters trying not to swear,” full of clips from news reports over the last week of reports trying to avoid swearing.

The main part was John Oliver talking about Torture (embedded above), his special discussion of the week. The second-to-last part of the show was a continuing part of the earlier joke in the show, “Newscasters not trying not to swear.” John Oliver then ended his show with information about a running news segment about the Fifa Corruption scandal and former Fifa executive Jack Warner. The narrative is easy to understand and is consistent with most Last Week Tonight episodes, as they always feature a few smaller stories at the beginning, followed by the big story, and then occasionally a smaller one, time depending. The effect is that people are brought in with (sometimes) funny lighter stories, learn a big one in the middle, and get something really funny at the end.

The program is set in a studio in New York. It is very well-lit by many lights. The program is always pleasing to the eye. The colors are just the background of New York, along with John Oliver’s own wardrobe. The mood is set to be light, even though heavy topics are usually being discussed.

The music used in the show is almost always the show’s own, depending on if there is a musical guest or not or for a special occasion, such as with the Jack Warner segment this week. In the background of the show, there is no music, unless it was playing on a clip John Oliver shows to his audience.

The only characters in this show are John Oliver himself, a rare guest, or people who were on other TV shows that John Oliver is showing clips of. There are no actors, as John Oliver is just himself.

This week’s episode relates to the topic of violence, as the main part of the show is a segment on Torture methods used by the US Government during the Iraq War. It tells us that we shouldn’t torture people to get information, as it doesn’t even work.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Torture (HBO). (2015, June 14). Retrieved June 17, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmeF2rzsZSU

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