There is no show whose flag I waved harder this year than John Oliver’s new HBO show. In a concept that seemed like it couldn’t possibly work - a projected that basically amounted to The Daily Show without the immediacy* - Oliver immediately turned on its head and launched a 60 Minutes-style investigative program fueled by a dry British wit and his trademark joyful incredulity. Every week, the in-depth piece ruled Twitter and Facebook, no matter the subject matter.
*I was not alone in thinking this: the end-of-season piece the New York Times did on the show basically apologized for ever doubting him.
In fact, here are the topics the show explored, in order. Just take a look at this slate, remembering that this is a comedy program.
Episode 1: The Indian general election (this was the pilot!)
Episode 2: Capital Punishment
Episode 3: The Senate election in Kentucky
Episode 4: The Right to be Forgotten
Episode 5: Net neutrality
Episode 6: Bashar al-Assad
Episode 7: Immigration reform
Episode 8: the Dietary Health and Information Act of 1994
Episode 9: LGBT rights in Uganda
Episode 10: Income equality and wealth inequality
Episode 11: Incarceration
Episode 12: Failures in nuclear weapons systems
Episode 13: Argentine debt restructuring
Episode 14: Payday loans
Episode 15: Equal pay for equal work
Episode 16: Student debt
Episode 17: Scottish independence
Episode 18: The Cuba embargo
Episode 19: The Kansas state budge shortfall
Episode 20: Civil forfeiture
Episode 21: The Supreme Court
Episode 22: Sugar (this doesn't sound tough, but it was actually kind of devastating)
Episode 23: U.S. state legislatures in United States elections
Episode 24: The lottery.
Each one of them had smart, well-framed arguments and featured deep dives in terms of investigative reporting. It’s the best news show I saw all year, and this was all while being basically unquestionably the funniest show on television this year.
The show went off the air in November and won't return until February, and I've missed it desperately. I've been subsisting on occasional check-ins the show's dropped on YouTube, or Oliver's surprise hosting gig on The Daily Show. There's nothing on television I looked forward to more this year - even more than Game of Thrones' always too-short 10-week run.
If you don’t have HBO Go (and you probably don’t), steal someone’s password* and watch every episode of this show.
*Ha ha! I would never actually suggest doing this, of course, Copyright Lawyer Looking At My Website! What a flagrant abuse of the system that would be!
Also receiving votes: You're The Worst, Silicon Valley.