Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Subway
May 23, 2022 4:09 AM - Season 9, Episode 12 - Subscribe

This week.... Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who spread Trump's like about 2020 election fraud (and has said some very disturbing things about how he'd run their election) and marched on the Capitol on January 6, reached a near-tie in the Republican primary for that state. And Now: Some Things They Say In Texas. The main story is about the Subway restaurant chain and the terrible straits their franchisee agreements can put buyers through, which can include opening new stores surprisingly close to each other. On YouTube. (27 minutes) At the end, they present a short romantic drama about a Korean Subway franchisee.

Some things they say in Texas:
"When you're bird hunting, shoot at everything, take credit for anything that falls."
"Why use a nutcracker when you have access to a sledgehammer."
"The only thing you find in the middle of the road is yellow stripes and dead armadillos."
"For every rat you see there's fifty you don't."
"Don't pee on my boots and tell me it's raining."
"Come and get it!"
"Don't let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird rear-end."
"Hogs get slaughtered."
"If you were bacon it wouldn't even sizzle."
"It looks like a hornswaggle."
"Close the barn door before the cow gets out!"
"That ain't no polar bear."
"All hat, no cattle." (x4)
"All cattle, no hat." (Chuck Schumer)

About Subway... about two miles from where I'm sitting is a Subway location in a gas station. And about an eighth of a mile further, across the road, is another Subway location, also in a gas station. I've wondered for a while how this situation could have happened; I guess now I know.
posted by JHarris (11 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I enjoyed this! First of all, I had long pondered the enigma of Subway, never understanding why there were so many of them when they were so terrible. Now I know. Second, I was able to get outraged without overshooting into existential despair, which has happened with a lot of LWT episodes lately.
posted by acrasis at 2:40 PM on May 23, 2022 [6 favorites]

I never realised there was such a hate on for subway. I never understood its viability, but I'd go there a couple of times per year when I wanted something quick but with fresh veges. Sucks to learn about their horrible corporate practices, making the corporate person of Subway on Community start to look less like fantasy.
posted by Marticus at 4:00 PM on May 23, 2022

That's some prime Achewood right there.
posted by JHarris at 7:09 PM on May 23, 2022

Also--I too don't quite understand the hate for Subway, their food at least? For all their problems, they're unusually out in the open about their prep processes. All their food is right there, you see what you're getting. There might be too much sugar in it, but they do bake their own bread. Everything is made to order, right there in front of you. You might not be happy with the quality of their meats, but you can easily pick what looks best. The vegetables all look fresh, the taste isn't bad, and it's even relatively inexpensive if you use the app to order.

But then, fast food is generally a really easy target, if just because the scale at which it must operate in order to be profitable requires that a few corners, at least, must be cut. Still, I'm not usually shy in admitting I'm got very little in the way or income, and Subway has been a life saver for me sometimes.
posted by JHarris at 7:13 PM on May 23, 2022 [8 favorites]

About Subway... about two miles from where I'm sitting is a Subway location in a gas station. And about an eighth of a mile further, across the road, is another Subway location, also in a gas station.

Why did the Subway customer cross the road?

They didn't - - they're too darn lazy to cross the road. Why else would they be eating at Subway?
posted by fairmettle at 11:14 PM on May 23, 2022

I have heard several times that McDonald's has a ton of equations for exactly how far people in various environments will travel to a McDonald's and will definitely not allow them to be placed too close together, so I had always just figured that Subway had different equations and allowed franchisers to place locations accordingly. I had no idea that it was just "LOL fuck it wherever we don't care as long as you're paying the fees and if you're not, then that's on you, fuck off."

As for why the hate for Subway -- for me, it's always been a sufficient foodstuff, but never a destination meal. I have Subway on the road, or when it's otherwise the immediate option and I need some calories right now. Their appeals to some pure ideal of Freshness and Quality seem pretty laughable. And I definitely remember the entire season of Chuck and the episodes of Community where they were parodying the product placement while still placing the product.
posted by Etrigan at 9:07 AM on May 24, 2022

I enjoyed the Subway piece, although I feel like the actual Subway product placement is so ridiculous that the parody at the end was extraneous. You cannot top the reality; best not to try.

I am torn between being glad they did not do a deeper dive on Mastriano (depressing and don't give him more publicity) and being a little sad they didn't even glancingly make fun of his academic fanfic of a woke civilian putsch or lamentations that the US military simply doesn't do enough collateral damage. Truly trainwreck stuff.
posted by the primroses were over at 1:18 PM on May 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

For the same money I could go to a local small business and get jerk chicken with collards while listening to reggae, so why would I eat their mediocre sandwich? Our local Subway is on the army base, and I always assumed the franchise owner was cleaning up with a captive audience, but now I may need to rethink that. I couldn't help notice, after watching the episode, that the sign in their front window said "We're making a fresh start!".
posted by acrasis at 5:29 PM on May 24, 2022

Subway is a baseline. Almost any other local or chain deli-style restaurant is going to have better food. Your grocery store may even have better food; our Publix does great sandwiches, and for about the same price.

But Subway has a good mixture of ingredients, is closer, there being more than one I don't have to wait as long, and is usually cheaper. I don't always eat at Subway, but I do sometimes. I ate there quite a bit more often when local stores offered customer wifi.
posted by JHarris at 1:32 AM on May 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

I worked at a Subway in my 20s. I have eaten at a Subway maybe a half dozen times in my life. Every time, the food smelled exactly like John Oliver described -- like a sandwhich learned how to fart.

Subway is below baseline for me. It's so bad! The veg doesn't taste fresh, the meat is dodgy, the bread is full of sugar, the sauces are basically just sugar. Blech. No thanks.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:48 AM on May 26, 2022 [1 favorite]

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