A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Standing up for yourself, especially to people who have tremendous power and influence. Tenacity when many would want to sweep misdeeds under the rug.
Positive Role Models
Some of the women Cosby assaulted talk at length about their relationships with him. They demonstrate resilience and courage to speak out. Several of Cosby's male colleagues talk about coming to terms with the possibility that a man they'd admired had been a rapist; some also consider their own roles in abetting his behavior.
The series shows Cosby's sudden rise to fame in the 1960s and his many "firsts" among Black actors and comedians in the era. It also explores the impact shows like Fat Albert and The Cosby Show had on Black representation and how they affected host-creator W. Kamau Bell. Particularly galling for many guests was Cosby holding himself up as the paragon of Black excellence and worthy of adulation while he was raping women who trusted him because of that image.
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Violence & Scariness
Numerous descriptions of Cosby's sexual assaults -- from the women themselves or third parties -- from the 1960s through the 2000s. Their stories are similar and consistent: Dozens of women describe that Cosby got them alone, they often consensually took a Quaalude or other pill or alcohol, then passed out and awoke naked with Cosby.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sexual encounters are described, some consensual, others not (see Violence). The Playboy Clubs are significant settings.
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Many descriptions of sexual assault, as well curses such as "f--k," "s--t," and the like.
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Products & Purchases
Explores Cosby's many TV shows, books, and comedy albums, as well as the products for which he was a spokesperson.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cosby's alleged victims typically were given spike alcohol and/or drugs to "relax." Lengthy descriptions of the popularlity of Quaaludes and Cosby's seeming obsession with Spanish Fly.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that We Need to Talk About Cosby is a four-part docuseries that tracks Bill Cosby's career and the dozens of sexual assault allegations against him. As expected, this is mature subject matter; more than 60 women have accused Cosby of rape and sexual assault, and their stories are told alongside the well-known and lesser-known highlights in Cosby's biography. Multimedia timelines show with illuminating and horrifying specificity the contradiction between Cosby's public persona and his private abuses. Numerous descriptions of Cosby's alleged sexual assaults -- from the women themselves or third parties -- from the 1960s through the 2000s are shared here. Drugs and drinking are mentioned frequently; Cosby's accusers typically were given spiked alcohol and/or drugs to "relax."
Is It Any Good?
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.
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.