Shonda Rhimes, Norman Lear, and Common Take Aim at Inequality in This New Documentary Series

“America Divided” debuts tonight on Epix.


In “America Divided,” a new five-part documentary series premiering tonight on Epix, the nation’s growing inequality—in matters economic, racial, and otherwise—takes center stage.

Headed by executive producers Shonda Rhimes, Norman Lear, and Common, the project looks into the ways inequality underlies so many modern crises, profoundly affecting our schools, our housing landscape, and our political discourse. The correspondents are all household names: Actress Rosario Dawson, for instance, takes us to Flint, Michigan, to meet families affected by lead poisoning. Actor Jesse Williams returns to the classroom to understand the school-to-prison pipeline. Comedian Amy Poehler grills well-to-do families about their relationships with struggling domestic workers.

The actors are invested, and in some cases confrontational. And while it’s a little strange to see them so out of context (especially comedians such as Poehler and Zach Galifianakis) there’s something refreshing about their earnestness. Take Dawson, who displays her humanity when she reaches out to hold the hand of a tearful woman who has been describing the toll Flint’s contaminated water has had on her family. The issues the series explores won’t be anything new to Mother Jones readers, but they are as timely as ever. So if A-list celebs and high production quality will convince you to think more about America’s more entrenched problems, and maybe even to step up and do something, then this series is for you.