Brow Beat

John Oliver Helpfully Explained the Year 2016 to Cicadas From 1999

The cicadas are coming! It feels like just yesterday that the last batch of cicadas overran the northeast, but it’s been 17 years since this new brood of cicadas was conceived, and now, in just a few weeks, billions—yes, billions with a b—of the shrieking, swarming creatures will once again emerge from their underground retreat to rejoin the rest of us in the daylight. Fortunately, though Last Week Tonight is on a break this week, John Oliver is still around to school these time travelers from 1999 on all the cultural and political milestones they’ve missed in a special web exclusive.

A lot has changed since the late ’90s: We no longer have dial-up, the Red Sox finally won a World Series, and Beyoncé is the queen of America (“On your knees before the queen, cicadas!”). Then again, despite their long absence, the eerie, red-eyed insects should feel right at home in 2016—as Oliver points out, a plague of locusts seems oddly appropriate right about now.