Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Judge elections in the US and the Chinese Year of the Sheep/Goat
February 23, 2015 7:28 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

This week: Greece gets a loan reprieve. Cease fire violated in Ukraine, Egypt butchers the Russian national anthem. The UK's Labour Party tries to appeal to women by means of a pink bus (YT 4m). Last Week Tonight imagines what would happen if Labour did damage control in a video segment, Pretty Princess Ponies. Main story: The many problems with electing state judges in the US (YT 13m). And Now: CNN Weatherman Chad Myers Hates His Job, His Life and Everyone Around Him. China celebrates the beginning of the Year of the Sheep. Or is it Goat?
posted by JHarris (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Having just finished watching The Thick of It, that MP pretending she doesn't know the colour of the van is like a fantastic deleted scene.
posted by Gary at 3:52 PM on February 23, 2015 [6 favorites]

Oh god, that mangled anthem...
posted by Servo5678 at 4:32 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

The part about Yanis Varoufakis was disappointing. So what if not all politicians dress like Oliver is used to. There are far more interesting things to say about Greece and the EU than what clotes their MInister of Finance wear.
posted by magnusbe at 6:13 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I love John Oliver as much as the next guy, but it seems that he's borrowing his ideas from Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe.

It was fun to see it twice though.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:25 PM on February 23, 2015

Yeah, that was my initial reaction too (though it's in this episode, not that one). Upon closer inspection, however, they are quite different pieces.

Brooker's angle was more focused on the absurdity of the media obsession with the idea that the mere pinkness of the Labour van is the one thing that is patronising to women, whereas Oliver's was more about how the campaign's condescension goes far beyond just the colour of the van.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:00 PM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh god, that mangled anthem...

I prefer this version myself.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:04 PM on February 23, 2015

Enjoyed this one, as ever, though did notice an unusually high number of penis references or jokes.

There are far more interesting things to say about Greece and the EU than what clotes their MInister of Finance wear.

There are serious political debating programs and the like for that sort of thing.
posted by Wordshore at 11:34 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was disappointed in the Yanis Varoufakis segment, too, but maybe especially because I'd just read a pretty thought-provoking article by him and kept waiting for them address something other than that surface-level bravado.

I wouldn't say I have such a strong grasp of the Greece-EU situation, but that segment felt like it could have been a straight-up German hit-piece, buying into a framing of Greece's irresponsibility and centering the jokes there, where I would have expected them -- given the nuance with which they've treated other big issues -- to use it as a jumping off point to address the failure of pro-austerity politics globally over the past 7 years. (Plus, I suspect some amount of Varoufakis' bravado is strategic, and not just a personal failure to perform the expected level of humility. From what I gather, the new Greek government is taking a we're-not-going-to-put-up-with-this stance, and Varoufakis' appointment was part of that.)

(This probably sounds more harsh than I intend. It was just a few jokes. I'm only noting it at length because it's the first time the show's made me feel like it was focusing on the wrong/easy side of a big issue.)
posted by nobody at 3:33 AM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]

I get the feeling a lot of British lefties -- especially folks like Oliver and Brooker (whose similarly shallow take on Varoufakis it now occurs to me is probably what Ruthless Bunny was referring to upthread) -- are too used to associating anti-EU sentiment with xenophobic simpletonia like UKIP and the Daily Mail or cat-stroking supervillains like Putin, and thus are having a hard time getting their heads around the notion that it is even possible for a reasonable person to consider that the EU might actually be just kind of a bit crap sometimes.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:19 AM on February 24, 2015

Planet Money has featured Varoufakis before (and again quite recently), in a much more loving light. On the one hand, it was fun to finally put a "half-baldy" face to a name, on the other it was a weird cognitive dissonance to see Oliver tearing him down. It was a good reminder of how much my info-tainment media diet does colour my perceptions of things and people.

I do hold out hope that Oliver gets the Varoufakis=Awesome memo before next week and incorporates that into the show some how (you KNOW Varoufakis would make an appearance if asked).
posted by sparklemotion at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2015

I was hoping there would be some sort of reference to "the Greek" and "Spiros Vondas" from the Wire, as it's an HBO show.
posted by juiceCake at 2:17 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Kind of on-topic - both Oliver and his co-conspirator Andy Zaltzmann appear leftist but not-really-socialist on The Bugle, or at least that's the way it's appeared to me over the years.
posted by longbaugh at 3:29 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

leftist but not-really-socialist on The Bugle

I would say their position is more anti-preposterist, sort of how Jon Stewart is claimed to be but isn't so much.
posted by psoas at 10:32 AM on March 3, 2015

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