United Shades of America

Watch United Shades of America

  • 2016
  • 7 Seasons
  • 7.1  (907)

United Shades of America is a documentary series that first aired on CNN in 2016. Hosted by comedian W. Kamau Bell, the show explores some of the most complex issues in American society, from race and immigration to religion and gender identity. Each episode of United Shades of America takes Bell on a journey to a different part of the country, where he immerses himself in the local culture and speaks with people from all walks of life. Through these conversations, Bell seeks to gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges and perspectives that shape American society.

One of the things that makes United Shades of America so compelling is Bell's skill at navigating difficult conversations. He approaches each topic with sensitivity, curiosity, and a willingness to listen, even when he disagrees with his interviewees. This allows him to have frank and open discussions with people who may hold very different views from his own, and to tease out the nuances of complex issues like racism, poverty, and political polarization.

In the first season of United Shades of America, Bell visits places like San Quentin State Prison, where he meets with inmates and prison staff to learn about the impact of incarceration in the United States. He also travels to the Mississippi Delta to explore the legacy of slavery and segregation in the American South, and to Arizona to talk with border patrol agents and undocumented immigrants about the heated debate over immigration reform.

Other episodes of the show focus on topics like the Black Lives Matter movement, the challenges faced by Muslim-Americans in the wake of 9/11, and the experience of being a person of color in Hollywood. Throughout each episode, Bell brings his trademark wit and humor to bear, poking fun at himself and the situations he finds himself in while also exposing the absurdities of some of the cultural norms and assumptions he encounters.

Along with Bell, United Shades of America features a number of guest contributors, including Canadian comedian Russell Peters, who joins Bell for an episode about multiculturalism in Canada, and journalist Mark Nykanen, who helps to unpack some of the political and economic factors that shape issues like income inequality and the Rust Belt's decline.

Overall, United Shades of America is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the many complexities that define American society. Whether you're a die-hard political wonk or just someone who wants to broaden their perspective on the world, this series offers a compelling and often surprising look at some of the most pressing issues facing the United States today.

United Shades of America is a series that is currently running and has 7 seasons (54 episodes). The series first aired on April 24, 2016.

United Shades of America
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Hawaii for Hawaiians
7. Hawaii for Hawaiians
August 21, 2022
The word aloha has come to define Hawaiian hospitality: a warm, open-armed welcome. But on his second trip to Hawaii, W. Kamau Bell learns how that word has been commodified and corrupted to benefit transplants and how an exploitative tourism industry has left local Hawaiians protesting to get their jobs back, competing with tourists for space in the water and struggling for housing. Bell will explore how Hawaii can sustain its tourism economy while supporting local Hawaiians.
The Landback Movement
6. The Landback Movement
August 14, 2022
W. Kamau Bell travels to the Black Hills of South Dakota – a place known for centuries to the Indigenous peoples of the area as "the heart of everything that is." Bell dives into the leading edge of one of the most profound campaigns of Native self-determination to date with the LANDBACK campaign. Native leaders are demanding that the United States honor its treaties and return all public lands, starting with the Mount Rushmore monument, to the management and stewardship of Indigenous peoples.
Asian Americans in the Spotlight
5. Asian Americans in the Spotlight
August 7, 2022
W. Kamau Bell takes us on a personal journey as he discusses representation with some of his Asian American friends in the film and television industry, examining the commonality between his own experience and theirs. In the wake of Black Lives Matter Protests and anti-Asian hate, Bell discusses the need for Asian Americans to have a greater voice in bridging divides and helping shape a more equitable future for Black and Asian communities.
California is Burning
4. California is Burning
July 31, 2022
Years of prolonged drought and extreme heatwaves in California have seen wildfires grow in frequency, intensity, and size. It is a complex crisis fueled by mismanagement of the land, corporate greed, and climate change. There's no quick or easy fix to any of this, so in the meantime, how do we learn to coexist with wildfire?
Athletes and the Cost of Winning
3. Athletes and the Cost of Winning
July 24, 2022
While sports can be exhilarating and bring us together, they also come with a lot of intensity and pressure that can compromise athletes' mental health. W. Kamau Bell heads to the legendary sports town of Boston, Massachusetts, to find out how athletes are speaking up and leading change.
Black Appalachia
2. Black Appalachia
July 17, 2022
When we picture Appalachians, we generally picture the white working class of America. But a significant and largely unknown population of Black Americans have called it home since the time of the conquistadors.
The Woke War
1. The Woke War
July 10, 2022
Kamau visits Arizona, on the front lines of a culture war, where the term "woke" has become a fight for control of the nation's future; Kamau talks with parents and educators to hear both sides of CRT and how it is being used as a weapon.
Where to Watch United Shades of America
United Shades of America is available for streaming on the CNN website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch United Shades of America on demand at Max, Discovery+, Amazon Prime, Amazon, Vudu, Microsoft Movies & TV, Sling, Google Play and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    April 24, 2016
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (907)