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United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell

United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell

  • Premiered: 
    April 24, 2016
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: CNN
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Current Events
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Plot Synopsis

UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA is a one-hour docuseries that follows comedian and political gadfly W. Kamau Bell as he accepts the challenge to boldly explore the far corners of America and its various groups and subcultures. Along the way, he asks questions, gets himself into some awkward and at times unpredictable situations, and makes people laugh. Kamau travels from the far corners of Alaska to Florida's retirement homes to America's most notorious prison, revealing the diverse and colorful definitions of America. In the premiere episode, Kamau heads to the South to challenge the 'new' Ku Klux Klan. This generation of Klansmen claims they have rebranded and Kamau must see for himself.

On Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 10pm ET/PT, CNN premiered the eight-episode second season of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA WITH W. KAMAU BELL. The second season covers topical issues including immigration, gun control and violence in Chicago, as well as explores the experiences of Muslims, Puerto Ricans, Chinese Americans and Native Americans in this country. In the season two premiere, Kamau heads to D.C. and its multicultural suburbs to hear the stories of immigrants and refugees, and sits down with Richard Spencer, leader of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute.

Season 3 of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA premiered on Sunday, April 29, 2018 at 10:15pm ET/PT on CNN, as W. Kamau Bell heads to the U.S.-Mexico border to find out what life is like for the people who live there. Later in the eight-episode third season, Bell visits the coast of South Carolina to meet the Gullah Geechee people, travels to Hawaii to talk to natives, heads up north to Canada, meets with students at Historical Black Colleges and Universities, explores Sikhism in America, talks to members of the disabled community, and visits his dad in Mobile, Alabama to retrace his family roots.

The fourth season of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA premiered on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN. In the season opener, "Megachurches," Bell heads to Dallas, the home of the megachurch, to learn about the business of megachurches and to discover what is creating the new face of Christianity today in a city where church and state are far from separate. In subsequent episodes he will explore the experiences of Hmong Americans, black Midwesterners, white activists in Seattle, women fighting for reproductive justice in Mississippi, the LGBTQ+ community in Salt Lake City, and residents of D.C. that represent a vibrant culture distinct from the politics surrounding them.

UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA returned for its eight-episode fifth season on Sunday, July 19, 2020 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN, with W. Kamau Bell continuing to explore communities across the country to understand the unique challenges they face. In the season opener, "Where Do We Even Start With White Supremacy?," Bell heads to Pittsburgh to examine white supremacy and systemic racism in America. In subsequent episodes, he explores independent farming, the gig economy, reparations, the homeless crisis in LA, the public education system, and the experiences of Iranian Americans in NYC and Venezuelans in Florida.

The seven-episode sixth season of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA premiered on Sunday, May 2, 2021 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN. As much of the country was shutdown, Bell and his team traveled the nation, masked up and socially distant, to produce and film this season entirely during the Covid-19 pandemic. The risks and challenges for Bell and his team were unprecedented, but they committed to this unique opportunity to have meaningful conversations with people across the country about the issues that continue to impact our lives during these previously unimaginable times. In the Season 6 debut, "Policing the Police," Bell examines the history and current state of policing in America through the eyes of activists, organizers, politicians, victims and police themselves in his hometown of Oakland, California and the Bay Area. In subsequent episodes, he'll explore protests in Portland; the wealth gap; Afrofuturism; the shifting ethnic makeup of the US; the military in America; and violence against the Transgender community in Texas.

Season 7 of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA debuted on Sunday, July 10, 2022 at 10pm ET/PT on CNN. Across seven new episodes, the series embarks on a cross country journey with comedian and political provocateur W. Kamau Bell as he visits communities across America to explore race, class, and the unique challenges they face. In the new season, Bell travels to Appalachia, exploring the significant and largely unknown population of Black Americans who call the area home; to Boston, examining the mental health issues affecting the sport world; to Bell's home state of California, an area plagued by constant wildfires, discovering how communities have learned to coexist with this frequent destruction; to Hawaii, uncovering how the island has been commodified by an exploitative tourism industry following the COVID-19 pandemic; to New York City as he discusses Asian American representation in film and media, revealing the commonality between his own experience and theirs; to the Black Hills of South Dakota, surveying the Landback Campaign organized by Indigenous peoples of the region; and to Maricopa County in Arizona as he investigates the origins of "wokeness" and how the word "woke" has become politicized and enmeshed in the ideological debate over how the history of the United States is taught in schools.
On Sunday, August 21, 2022 at 10pm ET/PT, CNN premiered "Hawaii for Hawaiians," the Season 7 finale of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA. Encouraged by the state, mainlanders flock to Hawaii during the pandemic; native Hawaiians now beg people to stop visiting and moving to Hawaii, where the rising cost of living makes it the most expensive state in the country.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Objective Productions
  • Produced by Main Event Media