'We Need to Talk About Cosby' Trailer Examines the Fall of a Pop Culture Icon

The four-part docuseries from W. Kamau Bell premieres on Showtime on Sunday, Jan. 30.

W. Kamau Bell has decided it's time to talk about the fall of his once-adored hero, Bill Cosby. The comedian and Emmy Award-winning host of CNN's United Shades of America With W. Kamau Bell, directed the upcoming docuseries We Need to Talk About Cosby, a four-part series that explores the life, career and impact of Cosby, as well as how his sexual assault allegations forever changed his legacy.

Bell serves as the narrator and co-executive producer of the docuseries with Andrew Fried, Dane Lillegard, Jordan Wynn, Sarina Roma, and showrunner Katie A. King.

Cosby was known as "America's Dad" through his successful and influential sitcom The Cosby Show, which spawned the equally influential spinoff A Different World. The comedian also became a household staple and Black cultural icon thanks to a successful career in stand-up comedy, acting and well-respected commentary on Black American issues. As journalist and former Ebony magazine Editor-in-Chief Kierna Mayo says in the trailer, Cosby became the Black community's "center of morality."

His sterling reputation was forever tarnished when allegations of sexual assault and rape from over 60 women came into the public eye, eventually leading to his sentencing of 10 years in state prison on Sept. 25, 2018, after being found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman.

The series examines the complex story of Cosby’s life and work, weighing his actions against his global influence through interviews with comedians, cultural commentators, journalists and women who share their most personal, harrowing encounters with Cosby. According to the logline, "Cosby reveals who he may have been all along – the antithesis of the principled, public figure who became a hero, not only to African American people but to all people."
Bell, who grew up idolizing Cosby, unpacks how Cosby's desire for power, which propelled his professional success, could be the same driving force that motivated his alleged crimes against women. "We Need to Talk About Cosby peels back complex layers, portraying the genius performer, philanthropist and role model, contrasted by the accused sexual predator that now defines him," the logline adds. "It offers viewers the chance to reconsider Cosby’s mark in a society where rape culture, toxic masculinity, capitalism and white supremacy are shaping how we re-evaluate sex, power and agency."

Although Cosby was convicted in 2018, he was released after three years in June 2021 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned that conviction.

The court found that an agreement Cosby had with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case, according to documents obtained by ET. Cosby previously said that he relied on that agreement before agreeing to testify in his accuser's civil lawsuit.

The court also ruled that Cosby's case cannot be prosecuted again, writing, "He must be discharged, and any future prosecution on these particular charges must be barred."

Following his release, Cosby posted the following on his social media: "I have never changed my stance nor my story. I have always maintained my innocence. Thank you to all my fans, supporters and friends who stood by me through this ordeal. Special thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for upholding the rule of law. #BillCosby."

We Need to Talk About Cosby will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 22 before making its national television debut on Showtime on Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. EST. The series will also be available to view on all of Showtime's streaming platforms, as well as VOD.