HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher is now set to extend its run past the two-decade mark, as the network announced today that it’s renewed the program through 2024. Given that longevity, it’s unlikely to imagine the show will change things up from the established, successful formula that’s kept it running all this time: Opening monologue from Maher, one-on-one interview, panel discussion, New Rules,” followed by us all waking up on Saturday morning, briefly parsing whatever the most annoying things Maher said the previous night were, and then just trying to get on with our lives.
To be fair, the show did alter itself, as most late-night TV did, during the disruptions of the COVID-19 era—including implementing proper quarantine procedures when Maher himself tested positive for the disease, and going audience-free for several months. Maher, meanwhile, has only ever been his frequently exhausting, perversely indefatigable self, admitting with a “Probably? I don’t know” that the COVID-19 vaccine probably helped mitigate any symptoms from the disease, but continuing to assert his skepticism about the necessity of widespread vaccination or vaccine booster shots, because Bill Maher is not an expert on anything except whatever happens to be annoying or inconveniencing Bill Maher on any given day.
Maher has been on the HBO airwaves since 2003, where Real Time picked up the “letting Bill Maher just sort of generally say shit” duties abdicated by ABC when it canceled Politically Incorrect in 2002, citing low ratings, and denying that it had done so because of comments Maher had made about 9/11. The stand-up comedian has wandered into a number of controversies in subsequent years, including a decision to platform the now refreshingly irrelevant alt-right gadfly Milo Yianniapoulos, and an incident in which Maher said a racial slur on-air in 2017. But the series has been a consistently solid ratings performer on HBO’s Friday nights despite all, which helps explain why it was renewed a few years back through 2022, and now into 2024.