AMERICA DIVIDED, a dramatic non-fiction TV series, cuts to the heart of the greatest social crisis facing our country today — inequality. AMERICA DIVIDED uncovers the growing gulf separating Americans from one another; explores the damage this divide produces; engages with the provocative politics around inequality; and investigates both its long-term causes and real-world attempts at solutions.
The series leverages the biography and relatability of celebrated individuals to expose the structural causes of inequality, explore the damage extreme inequality inflicts on all Americans, and celebrate the heroes who are fighting for solutions. By highlighting the struggle for solutions, AMERICA DIVIDED is a touchstone for those seeking positive change by presenting examples which can be emulated and expanded, to foster connections between disparate efforts and communities, and serve as notice to the discouraged that solutions are possible.
These stories are told by high-profile correspondents from diverse backgrounds. Their charisma and relatability engage audiences, and their celebrity maximizes the show’s reach and impact. But they are more than just celebrities. They’re people of substance and credibility who have lived on both sides of the economic divide and who experience a deeply personal drive to explore these issues. For some, the series will be a homecoming as they return to the places where they grew up in more humble circumstances. Correspondents include: Common, America Ferrera, Zach Galifianakis, Norman Lear, Amy Poehler, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jesse Williams.
The episodes are:
• “The System” - Policing and Mass Incarceration: Oscar®-winning hip-hop artist Common returned to his hometown of Chicago — ground zero for disparities in the criminal justice system.
• “A House Divided” - The Struggle for Housing in New York City: Peabody® and multi-Emmy®-winning, legendary TV producer Norman Lear went in front of the camera to investigate gentrification, displacement and homelessness in a city of people with no homes and homes with no people. He then went undercover to take part in a hidden-camera “housing test” to expose racial discrimination. Finally, Lear went back to confront the landlord who had discriminated against the black actor in the housing test. “I was really a neophyte coming into it,” Lear said of his first investigative reporting experience, “and it was shattering to me.
• “Something in the Water” - The Flint Water Crisis: Actress Rosario Dawson, who grew up in a squat on the Lower East Side, reprised her lifelong commitment to environmental justice when she traveled to Flint, Michigan, to investigate the man-made disaster behind the city’s water crisis.
• “Class Divide” - The Battle to Fix Inequality in Education: “Grey’s Anatomy” star and former teacher Jesse Williams goes back to the classroom in Pinellas County, Florida, studies the battle to fix inequality in education and learns of a daunting school-to-prison pipeline.
• “The Epidemic” - Addiction and Deindustrialization: Actor and activist Peter Sarsgaard — who along with family members, has battled addiction — explores the heroin and prescription pill crisis devastating a heartland beset by unemployment and the shutting of America’s factories. This searing and humane piece pioneered a new way of seeing the epidemic as not just a public health issue created by the self-destructive choices of addicts but a situation growing out of a deeper long term economic dislocation in an increasingly post-industrial America.
• “Out of Reach” - The Lives of Undocumented Immigrants: Emmy®- and Golden Globe®-winning actress America Ferrera, whose own family migrated to the US from Honduras, traveled to Texas, where migrants who have entered the country without the proper documentation are trapped between the border and the Border Patrol, and where even their US-born children have been denied birth certificates.
• “Democracy For Sale” - Money in Politics & Voting Rights: Actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis investigated the political landscape in his home state of North Carolina and considered how it’s emblematic of the country’s deepening political divide during the 2016 campaign. He was able to bring incisive comedy to money in politics, gerrymandering and voting rights — subjects most media outlets consider too technical to cover, but which are at the heart of the dysfunction of our democratic political system.
• “Home Economics” - Domestic Workers: Golden Globe®-winning comedic actress and producer Amy Poehler — who attributes her own success to her children’s nannies — reports on the complex challenges faced by domestic workers who maintain an intimate relationship with the families that employ them while also struggling for better conditions.