Last November, viewers bid farewell to John Oliver with a grim episode about authoritarianism that ended in a faux movie trailer starring the show's five wax presidents. The series usually breaks for the holidays and then returns early the following year, so fans may be wondering: when does Last Week Tonight Season 6 premiere? The good news is the wait is almost over.
Last Week Tonight is set to return on Feb. 17, back in its 11 p.m. Sunday night timeslot. With 2020 election campaigning just starting to ramp up in earnest, this is poised to be an exciting year for the show. Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren are just a few of the star democrats who have already announced their presidential campaigns, according to the New York Times, and more will follow in the next few months. So in addition to keeping viewers apprised of Stupid Watergate, Oliver is likely to spend some time roasting the most embarrassing campaign stunts of the week (remember student loan emojis?) and offering deep dives into the various moving parts of campaigning. The last few election cycles have come with brutally long campaign seasons, and tuning in for Oliver's dunks on the esteemed candidates often feels like the only way to survive the week in political news.
Ahead of Season 5, Oliver explained a bit about the process of making the show in a Q&A with the New York Times. He revealed that the team isn't on hiatus during those three months the show is off the air; on the contrary, they're spending that time rigorously researching topics for the upcoming season. "What we’re doing is researching stories, trying to make sure the structural foundations are solid, trying to bank research that we know we can stand on top of," he said.
In fact, in an interview with NPR ahead of Season 2, Oliver explicitly said that diving into stories that require a lot of research was a big part of the show's objective: "[We're] going after the things that seem most complicated." Well, that, and having fun pursuing "an amazing waste of HBO's resources." It's true that the show's production value has increased exponentially year over year, so whatever Last Week Tonight has planned for Season 6 will probably blow its predecessors out of the water.
Last Week Tonight has racked up 12 primetime Emmys in just four years, winning both Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series and Outstanding Variety series for the last three years in a row. (HBO famously flies out Oliver's entire writing team to cheer him on in the cheap seats as he accepts his awards.) The only year Last Week Tonight didn't sweep the category was its first, which just so happened to coincide with The Daily Show's last year on air. Oliver's alma mater was a dominant force in the Variety Series category for the fifteen years Jon Stewart hosted it, and it looks like Oliver is making his former boss proud.