ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

After appearing as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for several years, comedian John Oliver graduated to his own HBO talk show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in 2014. Since then Oliver has waged war on everything from soft drinks to televangelists to politicians and all that's in between.

But aside from the vast array of subjects that Oliver covers, what's unique about his show is that he releases the majority of it — sometimes over two thirds of the show — on YouTube every week, basically ensuring a viral video every Monday morning.

Take a look below at the major segments from every episode of Season 3 of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, updated weekly:

Episode 26: Third Party Candidates

In a return to election talk, John Oliver chose to focus on third party candidates for Episode 26. With more and more Americans unhappy with the main two choices in the 2016 election, many are planning on casting their vote for a third party candidate. However, as Oliver points out some of those people are, well, totally crazy.

Episode 25: Guatánamo Bay

It would have been easy for John Oliver to dive back into the twisted world of US politics during Episode 25, but instead he zoned in on what he called President Obama's "one that got away," Guatánamo Bay prison.

Oliver revisited Obama's promise to close Guatánamo at the beginning of his Presidency, and how the prison was still open at he neared the end of his second and final term - though, apparently it now houses just 61 inmates. Talking to former prisoners at the prison, he revealed the grim conditions, and also why the prison needs to be closed once and for all, or at least moved to the US.

Episode 24: Police Accountability

This week John Oliver waded into the discussion over the ever-eroding relationship between police and the citizens they serve. Oliver talked about the few "bad-apple" cops who are ruining the reputation of the majority with their violent behavior, as well as how it was difficult it was to police the police, with over 18,000 police departments across the United States. He also mentioned the code of silence between officers. and the hesitancy of prosecutors to charge police who they may later need to work with, all of which made it increasingly harder for the bad cops to be sorted from the good.

Episode 23: Scandals

After a month on hiatus, John Oliver returned to air in the last week of September to discuss political scandals, in what is possibly the most scandal-plagued election campaign of all time. Oliver took viewers through all of Hillary's scandals (including making up his own "Swiss file transfer scandal" to prove people will believe anything), before also pointing out Trump's scandals and lawsuits. The host also pointed out the danger of citizens believing there is an equal number of scandals from both candidates, because when it comes down to things, despite Clinton's failings, he says there is no doubt Trump is "quantifiably worse."

Episode 22: Charter schools

Episode 22 made three weeks in a row that Oliver had wandered from election coverage, and this week it was charter schools under the spotlight. Charter schools are taxpayer-funder schools which are privately run, and since they were started 20 years ago there have been nearly 3 million students educated in them. Oliver opted to keep away from the argument about whether or not charter schools were a good thing, but instead focussed on the sheer number of closures, and also misspending of tax payers money, ultimately calling for better monitoring of the system.

Episode 21: Car finance and subprime lending

During Episode 21, it was auto lending and subprime loans that were the focus of John Oliver's main segment. After revealing that 86% of Americans commute to work using automobiles (a necessity given the often inadequate public transport), Oliver turned his attention to the dodgy business of subprime auto loans. Oliver explains how the high interest rates of these loans means that consumers can end up paying back ten times more than what their vehicle was purchased for, and also showed new footage of one consumer whose car was repossessed after she missed a repayment with her baby inside.

Episode 20: Decline of newspapers in the United States

Episode 20 saw John Oliver take a break from politics and instead focus on journalism and the steady decline of newspapers. Oliver points out that in the information age people are less inclined to pay for their news by buying a paper, despite the fact that many of the sources we then go to actually rely on newspapers for their content. In addition companies which own newspapers are forcing journalists to increasingly report on popular news, rather than quality, research based stories.

Episode 19: 2016 Democratic National Convention

And of course, the week following the RNC, Oliver then focused on the Democratic Nation Convention. After covering the difference between the RNC and DNC, Oliver also took the time to focus on Trump's harsh reaction to the speech delivered by Khizr Khan, the father of a deceased solider, while his wife stood by his side.

Episode 18: 2016 Republican National Convention

In the wake of the Republican National Convention, John Oliver made Episode 18 all about the Grand Old Party. Calling the convention out as a "mismanaged shitdown," the host covered many of the controversial moments of the event, including Melania Trump's speech, Ted Cruz failing to endorse Trump, and Trump's acceptance of the nomination.

Episode 17: 2016 Summer Olympics and doping in sports

Just weeks out from the 2016 Rio Olympics, John Oliver turned his attention to doping in sport for Episode 17. During the segment, Oliver revealed the levels that Russian officials had gone to in the past to allow athlete doping, including swapping out blood tests through a hole in the wall of the lab.

Episode 16: United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016

Oliver took things to his homeland in Episode 16, in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. The host took viewers through all the massive challenges that were now ahead of Britain in the wake of the referendum which saw 51.9% of the population vote to leave the European Union. Oliver also issued his own warning to the citizen of America, cautioning that a similar event could happen in the US if Donald Trump was to be voted in as President.

Episode 15: Retirement plans and financial advisers

With a huge chunk of the population about to hit retirement age, in Episode 15 John Oliver zoned in on retirement plans and the dodgy world of financial advisors. Oliver exposed the high fees involved with many retirement plans - including the plan that the employees of his show are signed up to!

Episode 14: Debt buying industry

It was during Episode 14 that John Oliver made television history by forgiving $14.9 million in medical debt (take that Oprah!). Before the big giveaway, Oliver first explained the mad world of debt buying, an industry which allows companies to buy debt for low prices and then try and collect from consumers - even when those people may not still be legally liable for the debt. Oliver wasn't the first to shine a light on the shady world of debt buying, but he certainly did it in the flashiest way possible.

Episode 13: Democratic and Republican presidential primaries and the primary process

Oliver returned to election chat in Episode 13, shining a light on the ridiculous and confusing Presidential primary process. Revealing that the confusing current system came into being in 1968, Oliver then walked viewers through the confusing world of primaries, caucuses, delegates and superdelegates, declaring the system an "errant clusterfuck."

Episode 12: 9-1-1 emergency telephone number

The emergency telephone number, 911, isn't exactly something you would think needed a 16 minute segment devoted to it, but in Episode 12 John Oliver revealed just how outdated the location tracking technology is, and how sadly underfunded the call centers are.

See also:

Episode 11: Scientific research and science journalism

It was a war on junk science in Episode 11, with John Oliver dedicating his main segment to the endless stream of scientific reports the media bombards us with, and investigating how well these attention-grabbing claims actually stood up. Going inside the world of research funding incentives, misleading media reports (often prompted by hyped up press releases sent out by research institutions) and dubious fact checking Oliver blew the world of pseudo-science wide open.

Episode 10: Puerto Rican government-debt crisis

Oliver talked Puerto Rico for Episode 10, explaining just what a dire situation the territory was in, with $70 billion in debt, a 45% poverty rate and a Zika outbreak. Oliver explained the Puerto Rican government was actively convincing its citizens to move to the contiguous US, and was in the process of closing schools and increasing sales taxes to try and claw out of the crippling debt. He also explained that the territory was unable to declare bankruptcy due to a 1984 provision which specifically exempts Puerto Rico from doing so.

Episode 9: Flint water crisis and lead poisoning

Oliver zoned in on lead poisoning and the Flint water crisis during Episode 9. Although he pointed out that there are no safe levels of lead, he cited reports that indicate almost 2,000 water systems in the US had lead contamination of some degree. Even more shocking was the revelation that lead paint is present in over 2 million homes where children under six live.

Episode 8: Credit scores in the United States (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) and background checks

Episode 8 took viewers inside the world of credit reports, finding that a quarter of credit reports have errors in them, with 1 in 20 being serious. The errors even included cases of mistaken identities, and Oliver found several people who have been fighting for years to prove that they're not the person that credit companies believe they are, or even, that they're not dead.

Episode 7: Congressional fundraising

Deep in the throes of an election year, Oliver dedicated much of Episode 7 to exposing the time that politicians spend raising money for their campaigns. In the segment Oliver also explained that fundraising was a necessary part of running a campaign, it was also necessary due to the enormous membership dues that organizations such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee require.

Episode 6: Proposal for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico

After Donald Trump controversially declared that if elected President he would build a wall between America and Mexico, John Oliver looked into the practicalities of such a mission. Not surprisingly, John Oliver found that, in reality, building a wall along the boarder was wholly unlikely.

Episode 5: FBI–Apple encryption dispute

Oliver dived into the FBI vs Apple encryption debate in Episode 5, explaining why the case wasn't quite as open-and-shut as it might seem. Siding with Apple, Oliver gave an amusing explanation to viewers that if Apple did indeed provide the FBI with a way into the phone of the San Bernardino shooter, it sets an unsettling precedent for the future.

Episode 4: Special-purpose districts

For Episode 4, John Oliver turned his attention to special districts, small, independent government units which operate aside from local government. Because special districts are often obscure or opaque, Oliver revealed that many are getting away with taking a seemingly insane amount in taxes, and rather than spending it on vital public services, some civil servants are even using funds to finance their personal lives.

Episode 3: Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2016

After starting off Season 3 strong, John Oliver went in swinging in Episode 3 when he discussed then-aspirant-Republican-candidate Donald Trump's political aspirations. After talking about Trump's political campaign and business career he then made the revelation that Trump's family name was originally actually "Drumpf." The segment made the term "Donald Drumpf," and phrase "Make Donald Drumpf Again," wildly popular after the segment proved to be John Oliver's most viral ever, being viewed over 28 million times since it was released in March 2016.

Episode 2: Abortion in the United States

In the second episode of Season 3, Oliver tackled the polarizing issue of abortion. Oliver pointed out that although abortion is legal in the United States, due to the recent increase in strict state regulation of abortion clinics, in many states, clinics are now being closed down. These closures meant that states such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Mississippi and Utah only had one clinic per state.

Episode 1: Voter ID laws in the United States

In his first episode of 2016, John Oliver talked about Republicans attempts to make access to voting more difficult, after the implementation of strict voter ID laws. While it was now easier to vote in some states, in others it was more difficult because of the requirement to hold identification. In his segment, Oliver points out that Black and Latino voters are much, much less likely to hold ID than white voters, meaning their right to vote was in danger of being taken away.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs Sundays on HBO


Latest from our Creators