Last Year’s Winner: “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Though the category has only been in existence for three years, only “The Daily Show” or “Daily Show” alumni have won: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”
Fun Fact: To that end, only men named Jon/John have won.
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” has won two years running, and the hit HBO late night series isn’t slowing down in 2018; it’s a major threat to take home the trophy again. Oliver remains an affable presence who’s done a lot of good in the last year, even when it wasn’t technically part of his job. It would take quite a surprise to see the TV Academy sway to another program.
…but the competition has plenty of good reasons to convince them. “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” remains one of the few late night talk shows hosted by a woman, but that fact has become secondary to the cathartic rage expressed in Bee’s hosting as well as the show’s ruthless, savvy commentary. It’s just a damn good show, and voters sometimes respond to a damn good show (even if having a woman front-and-center doesn’t hurt the campaign).
“The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” finally cracked into the race, following two years out of the running in the post-Jon Stewart era. The Comedy Central staple has quite a track record when it comes to the Emmys, and now that voters have gotten on board with Noah, the updated version could start mounting a little run of its own. The same could be said for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” David Letterman took home the top prize six times during his landmark run, and Colbert has warmed up his audience after an iffy start. These politically charged times could benefit the outspoken satirist, too.
That leaves two more late night broadcast series: “The Late, Late Show with James Corden” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Corden has proven himself a beloved member of the TV Academy, earning multiple nominations in 2018 and nods in this category three years running. Kimmel has snagged a slot eight years in a row now, and the host himself only seems to be improving on the job; his personal stories have helped build a deeper connection with his audience and given his program added relevancy.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Variety Talk Series (listed in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2018 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well.
- “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”
- “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
- “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
- “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
- “The Late, Late Show with James Corden”
- “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”
Will Win: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
Could Win: “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
Should Win: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”