National Geographic and Katie Couric Join Forces for New Documentary Series “America Inside Out with Katie Couric"

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08 April 2018
America Inside Out
Photo: National Geographic/Jeremy Sachs-Michaels
“America Inside Out with Katie Couric"
Premieres Wednesday, April
11 at 10 PM ET/PT
on National Geographic Channel
          The series follows Couric as she travels the country to talk with the people bearing witness to the most complicated and consequential questions in American culture today. Participating celebrities at the forefront of these changes Include Viola Davis, Elisabeth Moss, Julianne Moore, Aasif Mandvi, Halima Aden and Steve Aoki. Inspired by her own journey making National Geographic’s critically acclaimed documentary GENDER REVOLUTION, Couric travels to dozens of cities across North America — from Freemont, Nebraska, to Montgomery, Alabama, to talk with hundreds of people to get an inside look at pressing social issues, including gender inequality, Muslims in America, political correctness, white working-class anxiety, the battle over Confederate monuments and statues and how technology is affecting our humanity.

          Couric enlists cultural icons, experts and everyday people to help her look past the noise, politics and individual discomfort to understand complicated truths. Examples include Farris Barakat, whose brother Deah, a dental student, was murdered in what many believe was an anti-Muslim hate crime; residents of Erie, Pennsylvania, who have faced a steady decline in jobs and are having to reimagine their futures; and an Oregon family whose 20-year-old son is headed to a three-month technology rehab after falling into gaming addiction.
          “As a nation, we are in the midst of unsettling, often head-spinning change — how we live, how we communicate, how we see the past, the future and each other,” says Couric. “I wanted to explore some of the thorniest, most divisive issues facing the country, and give people the tools to have a conversation, not just an opinion. In the instantaneous, 24/7 news cycle, people seem to want affirmation, not information. That makes it all the more important to step out of our comfort zones and be open to different perspectives. I want to revive the lost art of listening, because when we understand each other, it can help us reclaim our empathy and humanity, and forge a path forward.”
The stories of AMERICA INSIDE OUT WITH KATIE COURIC  will include:
          Couric gets inside the #metoo moment with a look at why women today remain more vulnerable to harassment and abuse in the workplace, then goes beyond those tragic stories to discover how gender inequality, unconscious bias and sexual harassment are linked. Decades after the women’s movement accomplished so much, women are still treated with less respect and given less opportunity and pay than their male counterparts in nearly every industry. Couric travels from Hollywood to Silicon Valley to the factory floor to discover why that is. She meets with trailblazers like actresses Viola Davis, Geena Davis and Elisabeth Moss, who breaks from filming her hit Hulu series “The Handmaids Tale,” to talk about why it’s so urgent that we rethink gender equality, and how to make the most of this painful moment of reckoning.
         If you haven't been on a college campus recently, you might need a glossary to understand the new norms of “safe spaces,” “no-platforming,” “trigger warnings” and “cultural appropriation.” The question of what we can and cannot do and say has divided, confused and angered Americans. Student protests against speakers who offend them grow louder and more violent. There has been vocal pushback against “PC culture” from people on both ends of the political spectrum: from high-profile comedians to President Trump. Couric travels from college campuses to small towns, and spends time with controversial speakers and student organizers and behind the scenes at late-night comedy series. As she does, she asks whether political correctness is a matter of sensitivity or censorship.
          Couric travels from Charlottesville to Montgomery to New Orleans, the front lines in the highly controversial and sometimes violent battle over removing Confederate monuments and renaming buildings, schools and roads named after Confederate generals. Couric meets with people on all sides of this divisive issue: from Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore, who is helping lead the fight to change the name of her former high school, to Sons of Confederate Veterans and white nationalists. This is a very personal journey for Couric, who attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and who, while filming this episode, found herself in the middle of the alt-right protest that rocked the nation. Couric sifts through all the emotions and experiences that inform the debate, as she talks with scholars, celebrities and Americans of all races about the complicated question of how we approach the history — and the future — of race in this country.
         Regardless of your politics, there can be no doubt of the raw, even angry, divisions between urban white-collar “elites” and rural Rust Belt working-class people. The latter, once the backbone of the economy and firmly middle-class, feel the American dream their grandparents helped build is being taken away from them. Couric spends time in the heart of the communities that have lived through massive demographic, technological and cultural change: Johnstown and Erie in western Pennsylvania; Fremont, Nebraska; and Storm Lake, Iowa. She sees firsthand how the closing of factories, battles over immigration and the opioid epidemic have shaped the lives, the hopes and the fears of people there. They tell her why they believe the media, Hollywood and Washington just don’t understand or respect them. As she listens and learns, Couric asks whether there is a way to bind up the mistrust and misunderstanding to move forward together as a nation.
         Muslims in America are stepping into the spotlight: from Aziz Ansari and the Hadid sisters to Mahershala Ali and the coterie of comedians on “The Daily Show” who have made us laugh at our own biases. A new generation is being loud and proud about its heritage. At the same time, anti-Muslim sentiment, rhetoric and hate crimes are higher now than after Sept. 11, 2001. Couric begins this journey with comedian and actor Aasif Mandvi to learn more about why this moment is a time of great pressure, and opportunity, for Muslim Americans. A proposed travel ban has the support of more than half the population, and the current president openly ponders asking Muslims in this country to register with the federal government. Couric spends time with a Muslim community in Raleigh, North Carolina, reeling from a tragic hate crime; meets a glamorous young model who is a Somali refugee; hangs out in Brooklyn with a Muslim hip-hop artist, Olympic medalist and tech entrepreneur; and tells the story of a doctor in rural Minnesota who is taking it upon himself to fight the misunderstanding that has subjected his children and wife to bullying. How do we balance our fears with fairness? What is it really like to be Muslim in America? 
          New, smarter technology has assimilated into our day-to-day lives at breakneck speed. But will it make our lives any better? What is it doing to our humanity and how we interact with one another — our empathy and our intelligence? As tech begins to eradicate many of our everyday human interactions, Couric explores the many ways that technology is upending our lives — from the addictive apps we can’t put down to virtual reality — and, in rural Wisconsin, Couric meets some friendly Midwesterners who have been implanted with chips embedded with everything from their personal music preferences to private medical information. As Couric searches for a way to weather this digital revolution, she confesses to her own tech addiction and, with DJ Steve Aoki, is tested to see what it is really doing to her brain.

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