Regardless of the current scandal surrounding Bill Cosby, The Cosby Show remains one of my favorite sitcoms to date. Growing up in a black household it almost goes without saying that you would have watched at least a few episodes of the sitcom.
As I’ve gotten older and started taking classes where we’d have to analyze media through a critical lens one of the main criticisms that would always emerge about The Cosby Show was that it was an unrealistic depiction of a black family. The show was only a success because Cosby was smart and tailored the series around what a White audience would be familiar with and what they would find comfortable. I don’t disagree that the Huxtables were a very polished, politically correct family but I also always had trouble with this criticism.
I think it’s insulting to a host of black families who were/are upper middle class that could directly identify with the Huxtables. Malcolm-Jamal Warner who played Theo Huxtable the only son of Claire and Cliff noted the same reaction when reflecting on the sitcom’s legacy in a recent interview. I believe in some ways to say that the Huxtables where an unrealistic expectation for most of black Americans only works to keep black families in this confined space of what America is willing to tolerate. Instead, I feel as though The Cosby Show gave black families hope and allowed them to aspire for a better upbringing for those who did come from a more disadvantaged background.
Ultimately, The Cosby Show was one of the most influential and important shows not just of the 1980s and 1990s, it has a key place amongst any family sitcom that has and will ever be created, especially for black families. Even though I’m obviously not a current fan of Bill Cosby, I can’t lie I was upset when reruns of The Cosby Show where pulled from the air.
Still from The Cosby Show.