SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! W. Kamau Bell’s four-part docuseries on Bill Cosby, We Need to Talk About Cosby, is an awakening to reality. For the many of us who grew up on I Spy, Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, countless comedy albums, and so many live performances, it feels as if something has been stolen from us that we will never get back. Bell constructs an in-depth timeline of Bill Cosby’s extremely successful rise in show business through archival footage, extensive interviews, and expert opinions. His historical and groundbreaking accomplishments and recognitions for Black people in showbusiness, the arts, and education are also examined.
Parallel to looking at Cosby’s very public existence, Bell constructs a timeline with a steady stream of drugged women the fallen from grace comedian sexually assaulted. Much of this is through interviews with the victims and notable experts, as well as Bell’s research and expertise as a comedian, social commentator, and television host. At the time of filming We Need to Talk About Cosby, 60 known women had encountered Bill Cosby’s predation. However, the number is more likely to be much higher, as sadly, victims don’t always feel safe coming forward.
“…60 known women had encountered Bill Cosby’s predation.”
Through extensive research, interviews, and questioning, the director examines every aspect of Cosby’s life, trying to understand how in 2022, he walks a free man, having lived a double life of being “America’s Dad,” and a sexual predator of epic proportions. Even more disturbing is Cosby’s comedy and artistic endeavors, which are revealed to mirror his actions like a crime in broad daylight that no one notices. So who protected Cosby’s interests? Why did the studios, assistants, and many others, perhaps even his wife, shield him? Did it all come down to the endless stream of money he made for others?
His well-known “Spanish Fly” comic routine, loved by many, is about drugging and assaulting women. He played an OBGYN on The Cosby Show with an office in the basement, and he had a parade of models at every taping. Yet, these are small breadcrumbs to the larger world of how Cosby shielded his despicable and reprehensible behavior but maintained his celebrity status and prowess. The actor spent as much time offering his opinion and public service about educating children about anti-drug use and navigating society safe as he did to lure women into feeding his overwhelming and depraved sexual appetite.
"…it feels as if something has been stolen from us that we will never get back."