This weekend, Showtime Networks debuts its documentary about the effect former legend Bill Cosby has had on those who used to place him on a proverbial pedestal. The four-part series is directed by comedian/journalist W. Kamau Bell and will explore Bill Cosby’s life and work, weighing his actions against his indisputable influence through interviews with comedians, cultural commentators, journalists and women who share their personal encounters with him.
None of those accusations and crimes are new to us. We’ve seen the disgraced comedian admit to drugging women and being placed in jail for it. We’ve had to wrestle with our consciences, determining if it’s still ok to watch reruns of the culturally iconic sitcom The Cosby Show, which still runs daily on TV One. We gnash our teeth, knowing that while we were laughing out loud watching him in the uproarious films Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again, and A Piece of the Action (all directed by the late, great Sidney Poitier along with Ghost Dad, which we probably don’t ever talk about anyway), he was getting away with many crimes against women without anyone batting an eyelash.
Those of us that are a certain age still remember how the actor was a huge part of our Saturday mornings with the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids cartoon. There was ISpy, The Bill Cosby Show, Cosby and Little Bill, and the show he was responsible for creating that changed the way young Black kids looked at attending college: A Different World. His standup (well, sit down really) special Bill Cosby: Himself was solely responsible for a generation of young people pursuing comedy. And then there were the scholarships and donations to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, a lot of that funding keeping the schools’ doors open.
All of those accolades and accomplishments mean nothing now, knowing how he took advantage of those that looked up to him and robbed them of their free will. So this docu series is necessary. It’s a way to come to grips with both sides of the man who did all of his dirty deeds right out in the open. Over the next four weeks he will be put on trial in the court of public opinion. His story, and history, will be entered into evidence. Finally, for the world to see.
And it’s about time.
Check the trailer below and be sure to check in this Sunday for part one of We Need to Talk About Cosby, only on Showtime and streaming the next day on Hulu.