not a book, tv

Not a Book: We Need to Talk About Cosby

This Sunday, we have another in my occasional series about documentaries.

We need to talk about Cosby is a four part documentary about the US comedian, sitcom star and actor who has faced significant allegations of sexual assault. Directed by the comedian and TV host W Kamau Bell, it looks at Bill Cosby’s career and the allegations made against him, featuring interviews with people who have worked with him, some of the women making allegations against him and also some expert voices. It went out in the US this time last year on Showtime, but has only recently been airing in the UK – hence why I’m talking about it now.

My day job is in news, so I’ve seen the allegations against Bill Cosby play out in the headlines over almost a decade. And before they were made, I had heard of the Cosby Show, although I don’t think I had ever seen an episode. But until I watched this, I wasn’t fully aware of how long and varied his career had been and huge his fame was. And this documentary does that – and made sense of why there were so many and varied reactions to the allegations when they started to emerge.

This is a heavy and serious subject, but Bell has made a very watchable and well put together documentary series. He describes himself as “a child of Bill Cosby” and leads you through the different phases of Cosby’s career, the allegations against him and what the reaction was. The interviews and interviewees are really good and it feels like a solid and well argued piece. Obviously Bill Cosby wasn’t interviewed for this, but the archive material of him that is available adds to the picture that is being built.

The last part of We Need to Talk About Cosby goes out on TV her in the UK tonight tonight – I only set the TiVo to record after the first part had gone out so we watched that on the iPlayer and then realised all four parts were available there and just watched it there. I would say we watched it all in one go – except that we didn’t, we did it over two nights because it was all a bit heavy for one evening (and also it was getting late). If you’re not in the UK, you can find it on streaming – it was on Showtime in the US.

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