The Cosby Show is a family sitcom that has been around since the 1980s. The show has had much success in being a pioneer for black sitcoms that would follow such as: The Fresh Prince, A Different World, and most recently, Blackish. The show is also known for breaking many stereotypes associated with black families that can be found in shows like Sanford and Son.
The Show has taught us all so many positive messages and has made most of us wish to be as witty and successful as Clair and as thoughtful, family oriented, and funny as Cliff. There is, however, an elephant in the room that cannot be avoided.
Over the past several years, many women have charged Bill Cosby with various sexual assault charges dating all the way back to the 1960s. Since the news of these charges began to circulate, Bill Cosby’s reputation has continued to be obliterated. He has been removed from many of the positions he has held and many of his shows, including The Cosby Show, have been taken off of channels that were still playing re-runs.
Recently I have spent a significant amount of time studying this sitcom for one of my courses. I, personally, am having a very difficult time separating all of the positives that the show brought to prime time television in the 1980s, from all of the sexual assault charges brought up against Cosby. Since several of the assaults took place during the time of the show and the name of the show is directly associated with Bill Cosby, does that make everything that the show did for American families null and void?
As this article by The New York Times states: “The show became the oasis that we needed. But real trouble has intruded. And now the oasis is condemned.” For me, the historic achievement and success of the show still remains and can continue to teach us invaluable lessons, but it can be extremely difficult to accurately examine and enjoy the show without at least thinking about the disturbing actions of Bill Cosby.