With We Need to Talk About Cosby streaming and airing on Showtime tonight, Sunday, Jan. 30, documentarian W. Kamau Bell is nervous about the future of his career. After all, his new four-part series focuses on Bill Cosby’s impactful career but also the sexual-assault allegations against Cosby, who still has defenders in Hollywood and elsewhere.
“Cosby is still a powerful figure in pop culture, even if he’s not as powerful as he was when The Cosby Show was around,” W. Kamau told The Daily Beast recently. “And even people who believe, like I believe, that he sexually assaulted and raped women, publicly want to be looked at as either on his side or neutral. So I just know it might not be the best look to be seen with me.”
Nevertheless, W. Kamau is “proud of the work overall,” and critics seem to agree…
‘We Need to Talk About Cosby’ explores the comedian’s “complex” story.
As of July 2021, sixty women had accused Cosby of sexual assault, rape, groping, and other offenses, as NBC Newsreported at the time. But Cosby has “always maintained [his] innocence,” as he said in June 2021, per People, when his 2018 sexual assault conviction was overturned and he was released from prison.
Now, with We Need to Talk About Cosby, the actor is once again facing the court of public opinion.
“The series explores the complex story of Cosby’s life and work, weighing his actions against his indisputable global influence through interviews with comedians, cultural commentators, journalists, and women who share their most personal, harrowing encounters with Cosby,” Showtime says in a press release. “Through archival footage, Cosby reveals who he may have been all along — the antithesis of the principled, public figure who became a hero, not only to African American people but to all people.”
Reviewers call the show “riveting” and “harrowing.”
So far, We Need to Talk About Cosby has a score of 82 on Metacritic, indicating “universal acclaim” among TV critics.
The Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon calls the show a “comprehensive, harrowing, and exhaustive look” at Cosby’s life and career, adding the show covers both the “unimpeachable impact he had in changing Black culture and how Black Americans are viewed in this country” and “the other pillar of Cosby’s legacy … the graphic detail of the dozens of assaults alleged by his survivors.”
The Wall Street Journal’s John Anderson says the recurring theme of this “rigorous, riveting” program is “that Mr. Cosby's image precluded a belief in his guilt: No one this nice could have done these things.”
And the Los Angeles Times’ Lorraine Ali writes, “Nothing is tied up in a neat bow, and that’s largely what’s so engrossing about this series. It struggles, like the rest of us, with where to put Cosby.”
The show will stream on Showtime, which offers a free trial.
We Need to Talk About Cosby will be yours for the watching on Showtime’s linear TV channel or its streaming service, which is available on Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku, Xbox, iOS, Android, and other devices. The cost of a Showtime subscription is $10.99 per month, it’s cancellable anytime, and it comes with a 30-day free trial. You can also add Showtime to your Amazon Prime account, Hulu account, or FuboTV account for an additional fee.
If you need support, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.