Wyatt Cenac Interview: ‘Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas’
As Wyatt Cenac has traveled throughout the country for his HBO program, “Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas,” he has found several things that give him hope for the future of the nation, especially in regards to his overarching topic for this season, education. In our recent webcam interview (watch the video above), he reveals, “In every city that we go to, there are people who are working and are trying to make an educational system that works for all students.” He adds that he’s always been amazed at seeing the way people are doing work in ways he never imagined. It’s even more astonishing to him because we live “in a time when it’s easy to throw one’s hands up in the air and say, ‘Ah! It’s hopeless!'”
“Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas” is debuting its second season on HBO tonight (Friday, April 5th). The program has Cenac traveling across the country doing field pieces as the show examines different aspects of an underlying topic. Last year’s focus was on policing and this year’s is education. The show didn’t get in at the Emmys last year but is looking to change that with its sophomore season. Cenac himself is no stranger to the television prize as he’s won three of them as a writer for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Cenac tells us that the idea for what the show would become came from his experience working at “The Daily Show.” He and the other writers would be constantly chasing the 24-hour news cycle and even stories that they found that were interesting would get bumped a day or two later. “The thought of the show was could we take a subject and actually stretch it out over many weeks and just dig into the story from a bunch of different angles.”
He ended up getting some of that help from Oscar winning filmmaker, Ezra Edelman, who claimed the Best Documentary prize for “O.J.: Made in America” in 2016. Edelman, who serves as an executive producer, and Cenac have known each other for quite a while and have routinely traded feedback on both their projects. “Creatively, we would always talk about each other’s ideas and give constructive thoughts and input,” he says. When it came time to put the project together, the idea of actually working with Edelman was too good to pass up.