Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Common Sense Media says

Funny, smart news-driven talk show with strong language.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Implied in the satirical take on the news is that people should care about the world around them.

Positive role models

John Oliver is a British actor and political satirist; his points of view often reflect his international background. He's funny, but can also be intense and a bit crass.


Occasionally stories deal with violent events, like riots or animal attacks. 


Occasional nudity. Skits rarely include close-ups of male and female genitals and video excerpts from pornographic films. If sexual scandals are in the news, they're discussed. 


Curses like "s--t" and "f--k" are frequently used without any bleeping. 


Commercial brands like Kellogg's and various franchises are often the subjects discussed. Twitter and YouTube are also referenced. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Video footage of newscasts and other TV programs showing people drinking alcohol (hard liquor) and acting inappropriately. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Last Week with John Oliver is a news- and current event-driven talk show intended for older viewers. Discussions of topics ranging from politics and national security to social issues like racism are smart and humorous, but contain lots of cursing ("s--t," "f--k") and sarcastic insults. Occasionally stories touch on violent events, but nothing is really shown. Older teens who with an eye toward politics and current events will enjoy it, but it's not intended for tweens or young teens. 

What's the story?

LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER is weekly talk show that highlights the major themes appearing in American news over the past week. Hosted by British political satirist and actor John Oliver, known best in the United States for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the show explores issues ranging from American current events to international events that the United States media is all but ignoring. Accompanying his unique brand of commentaries is footage from various news outlets, interviews, musical interludes, and other humorous sketches.

Is it any good?


From discussing the top stories being highlighted in U.S. mainstream media, to talking about the problems with things like food labeling, intelligence gathering, and professional cheerleading, John Oliver offers a comic but smart perspective on North American political, economic, and social issues. He also highlights issues abroad that he believes the United States should be paying attention to, many of which he argues will have an impact on the country. 

The show is funny, but what makes it interesting is Oliver's unique ability to use humor and parody to offer intelligent explanations, commentaries, and of course, criticisms of the way the United States articulates what is important and relevant in today's society. The variety of quick sketches, including quick musical interludes by singers like Lisa Loeb, and interviews with folks like former NSA director General Keith Alexander, also underscore important points while making you chuckle. If you like this kind political satire and social commentary, watching this won't leave you disappointed. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about satire. Why do people use humor or exaggerations to discuss important issues, like politics? Is it just to be funny, or is it something more?

  • Why do talk show hosts, comedians, and others TV personalities curse during their conversations and routines to be humorous? What is the purpose of it? Can people be funny without using strong language? 

TV details

Cast:John Oliver
Genre:Reality TV
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:Streaming

This review of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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