A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Episodes focus on the resilience of small and sometimes marginalized communities and activism within those communities.
Positive Role Models
Typically seeks to give a voice to communities who are usually stereotyped or misunderstood by America at large. Not every episode contains positive messages, but many spotlight underrepresented American cultures in order to show how marginalized people are making positive impacts in their communities and beyond.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is not shown on United Shades of America but is often described. This includes descriptions of violent acts like murder, suicide, and hate crimes.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some jokes by Bell or guests will contain sexual innuendo.
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"S--t", "damn," etc. The "f" word is used occasionally, but bleeped out.
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Products & Purchases
Consumerism is limited to products and companies that are serving the communities featured in that episode. For example, the episode on disability features a tech company working to make robotic exoskeletons for people with physical disabilities.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that United Shades of America is a documentary show where the host, comedian W. Kamau Bell (Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell), visits small American communities. The first episode famously features Bell, a Black man, attending a Klu Klux Klan cross burning, and subjects range from Chicago gang members or LA's homeless population to Portland hipsters. Each episode is intended to spark a larger conversation about these communities, how they are perceived, and the unique challenges they face. Content varies by subject matter, but episodes may contain mild violence, guns, or descriptions of violent acts such as murder, suicide, police brutality, and hate crimes. Most episodes contain moderate profanity, though the "f" word, when used, is bleeped out. Some episodes contain product placement, but it's usually limited to products, companies, and non-profits working to aid the marginalized communities featured.
Is It Any Good?
In this illuminating and entertaining series, Bell and his team are doing incredibly important work that needs to be seen. The episode-to-episode quality of most documentary series varies wildly because the subject matter is constantly changing -- United Shades of America is no exception, as some episodes beg to be taken more seriously than others. Most people would be surprised at the depth and breadth of American subcultures that the show covers, and Bell's curiosity and open-mindedness as he learns about each of these communities is inspiring.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
TV Shows with Black Leads
Black Lives Matter Movies and TV Shows on Netflix
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