As a rule, Last Week Tonight takes the form of a Daily Show-style recap of the week in appalling news, then a long segment of host John Oliver doing a more extensive survey of a lesser known, somehow more appalling single issue. But this past week of unrelenting, unprecedented bullshit flung from the Trump White House may have finally broken Oliver. Or at least broken his format, as Oliver and company made the decision to set aside their prepared exposé of the state of the TSA (short version: things are bad) and commit the majority of the show to analyzing every stinky facet of the week that was (so jaw-droppingly, bafflingly awful).
Dividing the chaos surrounding—and emanating from—Donald Trump into both a day-by-day breakdown and a four-question survey (“What the fuck is going on?” “How big a deal is this?” “Where do we go from here?” “Is this real life?”), Oliver plows through a week of Trump-Russia, Flynn-Russia, Trump-Comey, Comey-curtains, Kushner-looming indictments, Trump vs. the press, Fox News vs. reality, impeachment talk, possible line of succession scenarios, and Trump’s plans to gut Medicaid and kill Obamacare while all that is going on. It’s a Herculean task just keeping track of the mounting scandals that, as Oliver puts it, “may have broken Anderson Cooper.” (Cue clip of Cooper accusing professional liar Jeffrey Lord of being prepared to defend Trump should he “take a dump on his desk.”)
Luckily for us, Oliver’s up to the task, spiking his overview of the very real (despite Fox News’ desperate spin) crises bubbling over in Washington with his signature aplomb and creative insult skills. (Fox News blowhard Tucker Carlson is described as, “the villain from a direct-to-video Caddyshack sequel who somehow came to life and became a real boy.”) And luckily for Oliver, some Muppet penguins from the scuttled TSA piece are on hand to cheer him up at the end of it all. Remember: Penguins are just nice.