Parents' Guide to

We Need to Talk About Cosby

By Marina Gordon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Mature, complicated docuseries; drugging, rape, bravery.

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It's hard to imagine this docuseries in better hands -- or even other hands -- than W. Kamau Bell's. To the millions who grew up with Cosby as a familiar, respected performer and spokesman, the revelation that he was a serial rapist was shocking but not world changing. For Bell, and for many in the African American community, the accusations from dozens of women were like hearing about a beloved family member. As a Black child growing up in the 1970s and '80s, Bell thrilled to see Fat Albert, then The Cosby Show; he delighted that Cosby become "America's Dad" as he celebrated Black culture. Even as he researched the docuseries, Bell learned more about Cosby's influence, the good he did in the industry and for the Black community. All of which made the reality of Cosby's crimes the more bitter -- how could one man do this much good and do this much evil?

Cosby's defenders don't get equal time here; Bell unequivocally believes the survivors, and some of the most damning evidence against Cosby, both in the court of public opinion and in this documentary, is the sheer number of women who have told chillingly similar stories across decades. Using tremendously effective multimedia timelines that include audio, video, and still photos, Bell shows that as Cosby was being lauded for his many successess he was drugging and raping women, so many women. Holding those truths simultaneously is uncomfortable for Bell, for those who grew up with Cosby, and for the industry that shielded him.

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