WHAT: A fake trailer for a movie set in the current click-based climate of journalism.
WHO: The team at Last Week Tonight, along with special guests Jason Sudeikis, Rose Byrne, Brian Doyle-Murray, Dylan Baker, and Bobby Cannavale.
WHY WE CARE: Over the course of two and a half years, John Oliver and the writers at Last Week Tonight have perfected the formula for making the medicine go down smooth. Oliver spends roughly 15 minutes on a well-researched, joke-rich rant, which is then capped off frequently by a pre-taped sketch that demonstrates the point. In last night’s episode, the host’s extended warning about the current state of journalism is followed by a trailer for a Spotlight-like film indelibly set in the modern era of click-driven news content. “One of the things that made Spotlight so powerful is the knowledge that the newspaper industry today is in big trouble,” Oliver says during the show. “Papers have been closing and downsizing for years, and that affects all of us.” Not only does that change mean fewer reporters in the field, it also changes what merits coverage these days. In the fake trailer, Bobby Cannavale plays the Mark Ruffalo surrogate, struggling to justify his juicy City Hall corruption scoop. Meanwhile, Rose Byrne and Jason Sudeikis are leading the charge at the vaguely named The Chronicle for more stories about cats that look like raccoons and vice versa. Among the review excerpts quoted within the trailer is one calling the film “depressingly accurate.” It’s a funny bit because there are solid jokes in the trailer and typically great performances, but it also burns like the sting of Robitussin on the back of your throat.