John Oliver returns to TV post-writers' strike and has some harsh words for the studios

The scathing observer of current events returns after honoring the work stoppage and sticks it to the studios in the process.

With his show Last Week Tonight back on the air, John Oliver served up biting commentary on King Charles, among many others. {HBO)
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Last Week Tonight With John Oliver returned Sunday after five months away, becoming one of the first talk shows to come back following the end of the Hollywood writers’ strike, and the host had a few choice words for the studios regarding the stoppage.

Before getting into a story about health care offered in prisons and jails, Oliver offered a wickedly funny rapid-fire recap spanning events from the past five months, covering everything from Lauren Boebert getting kicked out of a theatrical production of Beetlejuice for inappropriate behavior, to the coronation of King Charles (his official coronation portrait looks like "someone wearing a set of tacky drapes over a Lakers jersey"), to Vladimir Putin rival Yevgeny Prigozhin dying in "the most predictable plane crash of all time."

Then he gave a shout-out to his writers and took a moment to seriously address the strikes.

“Our writers, the people who wrote those jokes, were forced to strike for a fair contract for the last five months. And it was an immensely difficult time, not just for them but for everyone else working on this show and many others who could no longer do their jobs,” Oliver said. “And to be clear, this strike happened for good reasons. Our industry has seen its work severely squeezed in recent years.”

The host pointed to various stories about writers and actors who have recognizable work in the industry, but who still can’t make enough to afford basic needs or even qualify for health insurance.

And with that, he had some harsh words for the major studios that the writers were striking against.

“While I’m happy that [the WGA] eventually got a fair deal and I’m immensely proud of what our union accomplished, I’m also furious that it took the studios 148 days to achieve a deal that they could have offered on day f***ing one,” Oliver said. “Hopefully, this might encourage others, from auto workers to Starbucks baristas to healthcare providers, whether they are in unions or would like to be, to find power in each other.”

Oliver went on to say that in his industry in particular, he hopes that SAG-AFTRA and IATSE — which represents production crews —will be able to leverage what the writers have done with their new contract and get a more fair deal for themselves, too.

“The truth is, it takes many people working really hard to make film and TV, all of whom deserve a piece of the pie.”

Oliver’s return followed Real Time With Bill Maher, which hit the airwaves with a new show on Saturday, Sept. 29. Other late night shows are also coming back starting on Monday, Oct. 2, including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night With Seth Meyers, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Daytime talk shows will also be starting up again, with The Jennifer Hudson Show set to return on Monday, Oct. 2, while The Drew Barrymore Show and The Kelly Clarkson Show, both of which were close to returning earlier before facing backlash, are slated to rev back up in the coming week or two.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.