HBO signs John Oliver through 2017

John Oliver

In a move that should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched the wickedly smart satire Last Week Tonight, HBO has signed John Oliver to a multi-year deal that ensures his show will stay on HBO through 2017. The deal includes two additional seasons of Last Week Tonight, each consisting of 35 episodes.

Jon Stewart’s recent announcement that he would be leaving The Daily Show after 17 years in the host chair led to a flurry of speculation that Oliver might return to the place where he got his “fake news” start, as well as where he catapulted to fame during his brief summer stint as The Daily Show‘s host. HBO nips those rumors in the bud by locking up a longer term deal for Oliver.

This makes perfect sense for both HBO and Oliver. In Oliver, HBO gets a rising talent whose star is in ascendant. And Oliver gets to build upon the wild success of his own show, outside of the long shadow of Jon Stewart and the incomparable The Daily Show.

I am a fan of both shows and find each host has his own particular skillset that he brings to the host table. However, Last Week Tonight gets the luxury of being on weekly, meaning the quality of each episode tends to be higher. The Daily Show can still bring it when it comes to skewering modern news media, but even its most ardent supporter has to admit that the show will put up a few clunkers each year. That’s what happens when you are forced to produce top level comedy over 100 times each year. In fact, I’m amazed the quality of The Daily Show is as high as it is, given this herculean task.

But Last Week Tonight, with its relatively smaller batch of episodes (although 35 episodes/year is by no means a slouch) can really dig in on certain areas, and find the insanity and humor in a wide range of topics. After all, even Oliver admits that his show is not about keeping you up to date on news.  Instead, Last Week Tonight really shines when it tackles systemic issues that plague our nation. Like payday loans. Or student debt. Or…ummm, space geckos.

Oliver has shown a keen interest in shining a bright light (and some savvy social media campaigns) on the injustices, inconsistencies, and just plain ridiculousness of our world, and he does it with a biting wit that has audiences laughing, even as they gasp in disbelief. And lucky for us, we will be able to gasp and laugh right alongside him for at least 3 more years.

Well played, HBO. Well played…

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Brian Chu
Brian Chu 221 posts

Brian Chu is a Staff Writer for Nerd Reactor and aspiring Jeopardy contestant. He thinks Picard is the best captain, Cumberbatch is the best Holmes, Bale is the best Batman, and Tennant is the best Doctor. Follow him @chumeister