What kind of show is Last Week Tonight? – Complete Review

In 2014, HBO recruited the Daily Show veteran and correspondent John Oliver and gave him free rein over a weekly satire and fake news program.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has grown into one of the wittiest, sharpest voices on television that cover various issues. The host focuses on not only what’s making news that week but reports from all over the globe and adds his traditional spark to it.

1. Quick Review

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has progressed from just a satirical news program to necessary viewing with a voice of reason. Oliver is not afraid to go after politicians, conglomerates, and corporations and takes them down while making sure you laugh.

Not sticking to the traditional monologue format of the other late-night hosts, Last Week Tonight takes the Daily Show formula and builds it.

2. Info & Watch Links

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Air Date: April 27, 2014 Status: Airing Studio: HBO No. of Seasons: 7 No. of Episodes: 209
Watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on:

3. Is It Worth Watching?

Last Week Tonight will give you a weekly roundup of the significant stories in America and around the world. It will also make you laugh, as John Oliver provides a fresh perspective on the news and proves that he is one of the funniest men on television. Last Week Tonight is shot in front of a live studio audience that is often left in splits.

Season 6 Official Trailer: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)
Last Week Tonight Season 6 Official Trailer

I. The Show                                     

Last Week Tonight has a format similar to The Daily Show but is broadcast every week. This plays out to Oliver’s advantage as he can take his pick from the news of the week and the incidents from around the globe and write well-constructed pieces mixed with jokes and satirical videos.

The show opens with Oliver talking about the news of the week and then moves onto a large segment, which is the main topic for the episode. This segment gives the viewers an in-depth analysis of the issue, and Oliver includes many satirical mascots, news clips, and images to get his point across in a fun manner.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Review
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver | Source: HBO

With his trademark line, “And now, this,” Oliver breaks up the more significant segment by inserting smaller videos or parts that may or may not be related to the main story. Sometimes the show only does a single story when it has a particularly meaty subject at hand.

Oliver has also interviewed many celebrities and prominent personalities that are a part of the news he is covering. Some of his notable guests have been Edward Snowden, Dalai Lama, and many senior politicians.

II. Reception & Impact

The Last Week Tonight pilot was watched by 1.4 million people, a successful start in a full market of Late Night Shows. In a few months, that number had crossed 4.1 million, and the show has been on the rise ever since. The show’s YouTube channel often posts clips from the show after airing them and also has certain Web Exclusives for the channel itself.

The channel has over 8 million subscribers and 2.5 billion combined views. Last Week Tonight has received great critical acclaim and has won sixteen Primetime Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and five Producer and Writers Guild awards.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Review
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver | Source: HBO

The show has also had a tangible impact on the world and several communities. Many segments have led to actual changes from politicians and policymakers and started several petitions and movements. People have even termed it The John Oliver Effect.

III. Notable Episodes

The show’s coverage of international issues is one of its strongest features. It highlights problems, news, and topics from all over the globe that the American media is not covering. Oliver’s coverage of the former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott received widespread attention in the continent and was trending on social media.

His interview with Edward Snowden in which Snowden highlighted that the American government could spy on the lives of ignorant citizens who didn’t believe him also went viral.

Last Week Tonight also covered the 2014 Indian General Elections when the American media wasn’t paying much attention to it. Again, he did a piece in February 2020, criticizing the Modi government and terming him “a temporary symbol of hate.” This was in response to riots that had broken out in the national capital while Donald Trump visited India.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver Modi
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver : Modi | Source: HBO

Disney+ Hotstar, the streaming service airing the show, removed this episode from their platform, enraging the locals who bombed the app’s reviews. A similar ban also happened in China when Oliver criticized Xi Jinping and his party’s censorship policy, suppressing dissents and consolidating power forcefully.

Oliver’s coverage of the 2016 General Elections and the Trump campaign is the most famous episode of the show. The piece got more than 85 million views from Facebook, and Youtube combined, which is a record for any piece of HBO content. John Oliver also purchased and forgave 15 million dollars’ worth of medical debt, setting a record.

4. Grade


Story: A

Cinematography/Animation: A

Music: A

Direction: A

5. Final Thoughts

With his never-back-down attitude, John Oliver has managed to fight the good fight for seven seasons of Last Week Tonight and has given us many informative and entertaining pieces. You may not agree with everything he is saying, but that hardly makes him wrong. His international coverage and bringing global issues into the spotlight has also earned him much acclaim.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver | Source: HBO

While many papers have called Oliver’s style of reporting journalism or investigative journalism, but he has always maintained that they are just jokes and comedy. This is a show you should be watching on Sunday Nights on HBO.


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