Fans of Last Week Tonight have been missing out on their regular dose of political comedy during the show's hiatus. However, the announcement of John Oliver's Season 6 start date means that fans will soon again be able to spend Sunday nights watching the comedian's take on politics and world affairs.
As Deadline reported, HBO set Last Week Tonight's Season 6 premiere date for Feb. 17 at 11 p.m. The season's debut will mark the end of a nearly three-month hiatus for the show. The final episode of Season 5 aired on Nov. 18, 2018.
Last Week Tonight typically takes long breaks between seasons. Indeed, for Seasons 2, 3, and 4, the show similarly aired debut episodes in February and season finales in November. These breaks appear to be a crucial part of the preparation for the forthcoming season. Back in February 2018, Oliver explained to the New York Times that his staff typically uses the three-month hiatus to conduct research for the show.
"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," Oliver told the paper. He also added that, because his show is not interrupted by ads, like those on network television, he can delve more deeply into topics — something which likely requires more extensive research.
Oliver also more broadly emphasized the importance of thoroughly researching the show's stories during an interview with NPR back in February 2016. As Oliver described to the outlet:
You can't build jokes on sand ... You can't be wrong about something — otherwise that joke just disintegrates ... You try to be as rigorous as you can in terms of fact-checking because your responsibility is to make sure that your joke is structurally sound.
It remains to be seen which topics Oliver will cover during Season 6 of Last Week Tonight. Though, if Season 5 is any indication, his coverage will likely consist of examinations of the Trump administration's actions coupled with thorough analyses of a host of important, but often-overlooked topics.
Indeed, Oliver has repeatedly emphasized that he seeks to strike a balance when it comes to covering Trump versus other topics. "I think we're very anxious to not make it all Trump all the time, just both on a level of interest, and on a level of what the human soul can sustain," he told Vanity Fair during an interview in February 2017.
The comedian also expounded on this balancing act during his aforementioned February 2018 interview with the New York Times, which came as he was looking ahead to Season 5. As Oliver told the paper:
I was quite anxious [after Trump was elected] that we protect the main body of our show from being cannibalized by him. So, I think we were able to do that. We tried to contain talking about whatever he had done that week — to the extent that we could — to the first section of the show, leaving the majority of the show for those long pieces that have nothing to do with him. Still, it’s hard to ignore the president, right?
Fans will soon get to see exactly how Season 6 of Last Week Tonight will unfold. For many who have been missing Oliver's weekly coverage, Feb. 17 likely can't come soon enough.