We Need To Talk About Cosby Trailer Reevaluates The Once-Beloved Comedian's Tarnished Legacy

A new year, a new predator to expose. Today, Showtime released the first trailer for their four-part docuseries about the consequential downfall of actor and comedian Bill Cosby. Directed by comedian W. Kamau Bell, "We Need to Talk About Cosby" addresses challenging conversations around the #MeToo movement in relation to "America's Dad," Bill Cosby, who was later revealed to be an alleged sexual predator. 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."

Bell utilizes archival footage to address how Cosby may not have been hiding in the shadows as much as people thought. Behind the colorfully designed sweaters of his character Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable on "The Cosby Show," an alleged predator was dropping hints left and right in his dialogue and actions on camera and off. The docuseries includes several interviews that discuss the importance of Bill Cosby, especially to the Black community, and how that made the news of his abuse that much more painful. One of the goals of the series is to "reconsider his mark in a society where rape culture, toxic masculinity, capitalism and white supremacy is shaping how we re-evaluate sex, power and agency." 

The trailer for "We Need to Talk About Cosby" is below, but note that it contains sensitive subject matter.

We Need to Talk About Cosby Trailer

The footage starts out blunt and strong, which is valid. Sexual abuse needs to stop, and conversations around toxic masculinity, consent, power dynamics, white supremacy, and rape culture all need to happen in order for change to occur. They say hindsight is 20/20, so it's interesting to watch the interviewee reactions as they revisit Cosby's old comedy sketches and scenes from his television show. There's also some thought-provoking dialogue about coming to terms with someone you looked up to being a secretly terrible person and how to grapple with the false image that you had of them for so long.

We need more documentaries like this, and conversations that force our society to look back at how predators have been able to get away with abuse, and how often that abuse occurs. In doing so comes a lot of reflection around complacency, consent, and/or treatment towards those who bravely speak out. Cosby's sexual assault conviction being overturned last November was enough evidence to prove how so much change needs to happen on a macroscopic scale. 

I grew up watching "The Cosby Show," but when the news broke about Bill Cosby's alleged abuse, I was not shocked. Hiding behind a beloved persona is a perfect way to eclipse the abuse he inflicted behind closed doors. Serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy understood this and did the same thing. Predators project a certain persona publicly in order to fall back on if and when their victims speak up, as we've seen with Harvey Weinstein. It's as simple as that. 

Also, just because a group of people may know one side of someone doesn't mean a more disturbing side doesn't exist. Cosby utilized his fame, public image, and comedy to assert a position of power and positive response. It's just one way to isolate survivors and make them feel like they won't be believed because so many other people have a different experience with their abuser. And just because an abuser didn't abuse you, doesn't mean they aren't an abuser. That's why we need to listen to survivors and educate each other about manipulative, toxic behaviors that have been casually ingrained into our society for far too long, and how to help work towards change.  

The most recent example of this kind of deception emerged from Netflix's "Cheer," where one of the most beloved cheerleaders, Jerry, allegedly used his fame and bubbly personality as a front to sexually prey on minors. It's not new. It's just that now people are starting to pay attention. I can go on and on about how sexual abusers aren't punished enough, survivors aren't supported and believed enough, and how many millions of rape kits are gathering dust years after an assault. But for now, it's nice to know this docuseries is coming out because awareness and dialogue are pivotal.

"We Need to Talk About Cosby" premieres on Sunday, January 30th on SHOWTIME.