Wyatt Cenac’s New Late Night Show Explores America’s ‘Problem Areas’

By Sameer Rao Apr 13, 2018

Comedian and former "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" correspondent Wyatt Cenac‘s new late night news and comedy show will tackle social justice issues. "Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas" debuts tonight (April 13) on HBO.

Cenac told The New York Times that the program—produced by "The Daily Show" alum John Oliver and "O.J.: Made in America" director Ezra Edelman—covers both serious and benign topics through a mix of in-studio commentary and reported segments. Each of the series’ ten episodes explore one specific issue—for example, police violence and reform—through a series of field segments in areas across the country.

"We could talk about Trump and the presidency," Cenac explained to The Times. "But a lot of people do that. Policing is one of those things that you see—a man got shot and killed in Crown Heights the other day. These stories keep happening. It felt like we could talk about something that, while it seems intractable, there are ways to make a difference that don’t just involve saying, ‘We’re going to wait for the midterms!’ It would be very easy to just stay in New York and tell these stories, but the problems of New York aren’t necessarily the problems of Ferguson, aren’t necessarily the problems of Miami. To really tell this story, it was good for us to go to all these different places."

Cenac added that he overcome early hesitation from various constituencies, including police departments, to approach the issue comprehensively for that episode: 

A lot of law enforcement agencies were skittish. In early conversations, there was a lot of talk of, what are you going to say on the show? We didn’t want to say too much because we were still locking in interviews and we didn’t want them to rabbit on us. But what’s interesting is, everyone was willing to communicate. People do want to be understood. People within the community, lawmakers, law enforcement—they all want to talk. We were able to come in and talk to everybody individually and get them to tell us their story. How they want to see things done and how they want things to be better. We’re not speaking for anybody. We’re just getting people to speak to us, and we get to be this odd mediator of the conversation.

"Problem Areas" premieres tonight at 11:30 p.m. EDT. Watch the trailer above and a teaser with show clips below: