Why Millennials Should All Tune into 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver'

Why Millennials Should All Tune into 'Last Week Tonight With John Oliver'

Whether Democrat or Republican, John Oliver's show is directed and designed for us


For the time being, I'm setting aside my ongoing debate over whether late 90's babies like me are considered Millennials or members of the rising Gen Z and arguing that those born up until 1999 are technically Millennials. We were some of the youngest citizens to vote in the 2016 Presidential Election, the rising era of voices and opinions, and the main market audience of new goods and services, from technology to (streaming) television.

One show targeted almost solely to the Millennial generation is 'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" which has run on HBO since 2014. While both Oliver and the show tend to lean towards left-wing political beliefs, he has often been critical of injustice and ignorance regardless of political party. The majority of his episodes are focused on non-partisan topics nuclear waste, online harassment, and credit reports; topics that, although not necessarily the most interesting, are shockingly relevant to our generation.

Take, for example, the episode on Standardized Testing, something that nearly every child in America encounters at least 300 times in their academic career. Oliver breaks down the presence of standardized tests in the US, including its start with President Bush's No Child Left Behind program and the areas where the standardized testing fails the students it's designed to help. While the episode is hysterical and sprinkled with jokes about Gwyneth Paltrow and a dancing monkey mascot brought in to excite students about taking tests, Oliver directs our attention to a critical analysis on why our education system places a more significant emphasis on tests that don't always adequately reflect intelligence than on the information absorbed and incorporated by students.

The result is a show that makes us simultaneously laugh and think, leaving us remembering the episode and the information it shares long after the show ends.

While the episodes regarding topics like guardianship and dialysis are not necessarily political aligned, the episodes on Alex Jones, abortion laws, and every single episode about Trump are unavoidably partisan. When the show does address politics, it does so much in the same way The Daily Show did, understandably so since appearing on the show turned out to be Oliver's big break. For Republican Millennials, the show's left-leaning tone may be a deterrent in this highly volatile political environment. While this isn't unreasonable, it's worth negating this argument and instead highlighting some of the ways 'Last Week Tonight' tries to at least partially bridge the political gap, even while taking on highly politicized topics.

Oliver often makes jokes about the way his viewers with different political beliefs will perceive segments by playing off the stereotypes of both sides. In the episode Trump vs. Truth, Oliver states, "'Donald Trump lies' is clearly not a fresh observation. Liberals are probably thinking, 'Wow, hot take Johnny. Next, you're gonna tell me "Obama is aloof, Dick Cheney is evil, and Paul Ryan doesn't climax until he's checked his FitBit to see how many calories he's burned from f***ing." And you know what? If you're on the other side, if you're on the right, you're probably thinking, "Oh great. Another blizzard of snowflakes from 'Last Cuck Tonight with Johnny Trigger-Warning.'"'"

He also does not blanket accept all Democratic leaders and their beliefs as they stand. In his extensive episode on Torture (in which Helen Mirren actually reads the audiobook version of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, which is also a book that I now own), he is critical of how Obama addressed the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report, as well as in his even more extensive episode on Guantánamo Bay which focuses on how Gitmo stands as one of Obama's biggest failures.

But some topics, while arguably political, are necessary for sparking conversation in this day and age. The emphasis is on the word conversation because, while Oliver himself tends to pick a side to argue in each episode, he does so only after playing devil's advocate and providing evidence to support the other opinion. Millennials need to capitalize on Oliver's discussion style because if there is anything supporters of both political parties can take away from the 2016 Presidential Election and the subsequent presidency of Donald Trump, it is that progress is not made from trying to prove your side is right. Progress is made when there are compromise and conversation. The conversational tone of the show, however you receive its content, is critically influential to rising Millennial voices. We need to continue having debates, but there needs to be a return to healthy back and forth collaborations, not the aggression that results when two rival opinions want to be heard the loudest and over the other side.

The content the show sets forth is important, too. We as a nation have begun to pick and choose certain hot-button topics and focus our arguments on those (i.e. gun control, immigration, terrorism, the economy, civil rights, and so on). However, regardless of your stance on the issues discussed, the thing every Millennial should take away from 'Last Week Tonight' is that there are so many facets of American life that are not necessarily hot-button, that are often not easy to discuss, that do not always influence us personally, but can be influencing our neighbors, our peers, our families. We need to talk about multilevel marketing, crisis pregnancy centers, and opioids because these are issues prevalent in our society, whether we know it or not.

We Millennials need more shows like 'Last Week Tonight' whose humor elicits our attention, whose tone is aspirational for our own interactions, and whose content is necessary to be a functioning human being in the world, regardless of who is President.

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13 Quotes For All Of Us Empowered Female-Identifying People Out There

For the days when you need to be reminded that you are really doing the dang thing and doing it well.


For the days when you need to be reminded that you are really doing the dang thing and doing it well.

1. Do you really need someone else's permission, acceptance, wink, or nod, or are you ready to give these to yourself? -The Universe

I get notes from the Universe everyday and all of them are so amazing and inspiring. There might be a few of them on this list. You can sign up for your own notes from the universe here.

2. The princess saves herself in this one. -Amanda Lovelace

The quote is based off a book called The Princess Saves Herself In This One, which is a collection of poetry about resilience, you can get the book here.

3. I'm made of more than you think. -Snow White, Mirror, Mirror

4. Other people's perception of you ain't none of your business. -Lisa Nichols


5. Do you realize how many events and choices that had to occur since the birth of the universe leading to the making of just exactly the way you are? -Mrs. Which, A Wrinkle In Time

I love this because it really hits home how so many right and wrong decisions led to the creation of you and how you should appreciate the good and the bad because without either of them you wouldn't be exactly who you were supposed to be.

6. You can't stop what's done to you. You can only survive it. -Rachel, Georgia Rule 

This brings up an important theme of my life that I'm still trying to figure out. The only thing you can control in your life is how you react to what happens to you.

7. Don't let anyone ever make you feel like you don't deserve what you want. -Patrick Verona, 10 Things I Hate About You

8. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Queen Clarisse, The Princess Diaries

9. No trifling of the past, no matter how great, can tarnish the brilliance of eternity. -The Universe

10. People who are insignificant to your future shouldn't have an impact on your present.

Someone once told me this, and although I can't remember the person, this quote has always stuck with me.

11. Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before. -Lady Gaga

You know what... I think she was talking about you.

12. Tell yourself it's easy. Tell yourself often. Make it an affirmation. Eat, sleep, breathe it, and you life shall be transformed. -The Universe

13. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. -Mark Twain 

Go on then, be empowered and trust your instincts, you've got big things coming... I can tell.

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