Bill Cosby's scandal, cultural impact to be subject of new Showtime docuseries

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For decades, Bill Cosby was widely known as an icon in the comedy world, but also as “America’s dad.”

The persona largely came from his famed roles in television shows like “The Cosby Show,” which saw him play a wholesome and loving father and husband. 

Furthermore, he was seen as a pioneer for Black comedians and actors, having been the first Black actor to star in a weekly drama series (“I Spy”) and the first Black person to win an Emmy for acting.

However, public perception of the comic, now 84, changed when he was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women.

Now, Showtime is set to examine the complicated nature of Cosby’s historical significance in relation to his tarnished reputation in the new limited series “We Need To Talk About Cosby.”

“Do not edit this,” warns a woman in the trailer for the show, which was released Wednesday. “A lot of people knew. Because you can’t do what he did unless you have other people supporting what you’re doing.

“Bill Cosby had been one of my heroes,” director W. Kamau Bell adds in a voice-over. “I’m a Black man, a stand-up comic, I was born in the ’70s. But this? This was complicated.”

Bill Cosby’s scandal in relation to his cultural impact will be examined in the Showtime miniseries "We Need To Talk About Cosby."
(Associated Press)

The director then asks the $64,000 question: “How do we talk about Bill Cosby?”

The trailer then showcases several people speaking about Cosby, who noted he was a “teacher” and a “center of morality” throughout his career – and had significant cultural impact.

“You can’t talk about Black America in the 20th century and not talk about Bill Cosby,” an interviewee noted.

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    Throughout his career, Cosby was one of America’s most beloved and groundbreaking comics and actors. (Getty Images)

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    In recent years, Cosby has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women. He was sentenced to prison on assault charges, but his conviction was overturned when the court found an agreement with a previous prosecutor that prevented Cosby from being charged in the case. (Getty Images)

In a tense turn, interviewees then begin to take note of the “breadcrumbs” that Cosby left behind, indicating his misconduct.

“We thought we knew Cosby,” a woman says. “We never knew Cosby.”

“We Need To Talk About Cosby” is set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday before beginning its run on Showtime on Jan. 30.

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