We Need To Talk About Cosby
SHOWTIME Documentary Films Presents, A Boardwalk Pictures Production, In Association With WKB Industries (Showtime Networks)
For decades, no figure shaped America’s perception of Black life with as much authority as Bill Cosby. His eponymous sitcom wasn’t just a massive commercial success; it also opened the door for countless other television series focused on Black characters. And yet, W. Kamau Bell’s deeply personal docuseries takes up the troubling quandary of Cosby—the man, the entertainment phenomenon, the paragon of respectability politics, the predator. Beginning with the first word in its title, We Need to Talk About Cosby frames the entertainer through the lens of what his singular ascent in American popular culture meant for Black audiences. The documentary wrestles with the demands made of Black comedians and viewers alike, underscoring the fact that Cosby’s rise was partly enabled by his willingness to admonish other Black people. But, crucially, We Need to Talk About Cosby doesn’t treat the consequences of its subject’s fame as abstraction. In its most moving moments, the docuseries turns to the women who’ve accused Cosby of assault over several decades, letting them do the talking. For its challenging, introspective analysis of the climate that allowed Cosby’s abuses to persist, We Need to Talk About Cosby wins a Peabody Award.