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Bill Cosby had been on television throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His success had been adequate, but far from impressive. By 1984, NBC wanted to have a show that would be endeared not only by minority groups, but also by white America. Enter "The Cosby Show", the very definition of a Nielsen Ratings Monster as it devoured competition, along with cohort "Cheers", for the better part of the 1980s and early-1990s. The series is basically the life of Cosby with a few creative twists. Cosby, an obstetrician, lives in New York with his wife Phylicia Rashad (an attorney) and their four children (Lisa Bonet, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tempestt Bledsoe and Keshia Knight-Pulliam). Comedy and drama would always dominate the series, but an early criticism of "The Cosby Show" was that it had no real point to it. Enter eldest child Sabrina Le Beauf who was created the middle of season one. This child was away at college and receiving a first-class education at an Ivy League School. And that is the point of "The Cosby Show"---two parents doing their best to give their five children the life and opportunities that they have taken advantage of. The Le Beauf character was a culmination of everything that Cosby and Rashad did with the four younger children. As the series grew, the cast grew to include performers like Geoffrey Owens, Joseph C. Phillips, Deon Richmond and scene-stealer Raven-Symone. The greatest problem that most had with the show was that critics said it did not show accurate African-American life in this country. To be perfectly honest, this show does not show typical life for the vast majority of this nation's population. There are not many white children in this nation that have a doctor and a lawyer as parents so that criticism lacks substance and social research. Cosby always kept the show somewhat light-hearted and sometimes shied away from some key issues of the time period, but keep in mind that his name was on the program and everything was written as if the characters were sometimes walking on eggshells. Bonet created the controversy for the series during its run, especially in 1987 with her very adult-oriented role in "Angel Heart". That did not deter, but rather engross an even larger audiences tuned in by the late-1980s. Slowly the younger performers grew up and grew out of their roles and the series finally began to show its age by the 1990s. But for a few fleeting moments in the 1980s, was there anyone bigger than Bill Cosby? I think not. 5 stars out of 5.
`The Cosby Show,' along with `Family Ties,' redefined television in the
eighties. It centered entirely on a successful African American family
that was something rare back then. And the thing that was good about the
show was that unlike some television programs, `The Cosby Show' did not try
to be anything special; it didn't try to shout out. It didn't say, `Hey,
we're a show all about a black family!' It treated itself just like any
other show on television, and that is what is so good about
Bill Cosby is, of course, the main character in this show, taking the role of a husband and father while adding comic relief to the show.
Cosby was one of the best comedians of the eighties it's too bad he isn't in the movies anymore, because he is a funny guy. He's not over the top and outrageous like, say, Chris Rock or Eddie Murphy, etc., both of whom are loudmouthed black comedians that are stereotypical of African American comics; they try to get in the limelight by shouting and yelling and not REALLY being funny. I think many black comedians had resorted to this because (a) they thought it was the only way they could get famous back then and (b) it became expected of them (that would explain Rock).
But Bill Cosby is calm yet funny. I think he's one of the best REAL comedians out there (in other words, one of the best stage performers/comedians).
`The Cosby Show' is one of the best reruns out there catch it when you can.
The Cosby Show is one of those few trailblazing programs that grace
television screens and leave an indelible mark. A situation comedy
featuring a well-off African American family residing in a Brooklyn
townhouse, The Cosby Show was also ultimately the brainchild and vehicle of
comedian-extraordinare, Bill Cosby. Cosby's stage routine during his later
years featured tales of his large family of five children, four girls and
one boy, and his beloved wife, Camille, and these stories are translated
exceptionally well on the small screen with a wonderful ensemble cast headed
by Cosby and Phylicia Rashad (nee Allen).
I'm sure faithful viewers all have their favorite episodes, and we can always reminice in this terrific journey through the life of Bill Cosby through the fictional existence of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable.
For eight glorious seasons, The Cosby Show ruled the airwaves and our hearts, and luckily, we can still enter this great world on syndication all over the world.
The Cosby Show was actually a breakthrough for African American families portrayed in a positive upper class Brooklyn family of professionals. Cosby used clean proper humor during the years it was on the air. Someone I know referred to him as a natural born storyteller. Yes, he is and one of the smartest intellectuals in the business. Bill Cosby provided a role model for those kids in the ghetto to succeed despite obstacles. Bill Cosby proved that you had to work and follow the rules of society to get ahead. He would be appalled at the rap music today with its lyrics of obscenities and vulgarity with degrading references to women, and others. The Cosby Show was one step forward for African Americans. I am sure that there are many African Americans who went and attend college today because they saw it could be done and was done on the Cosby show. If you aim high enough and work for it, you will succeed too. They showed how important family values really are now in a time of broken dysfunctional families. Bill Cosby, God Bless Him. He made me believe I could go to New York University like Theo. I was accepted but I could not afford it. However, Bill Cosby got me to believe in myself and he is wonderful and thoughtful about children. You can let your children watch Bill Cosby without worrying that they may pick up something bad from it. Bill Cosby may be the best babysitter on television today. He tries to stay clean with his humor despite the ever-changing times. The Huxtables were ideal family for all of us. Who wouldn't want to be a Huxtable, I know I did.
Back in the 80's "The, Cosby Show" was the number one show in America. Some felt the show went a little to far as showing a black family being to successful. The heads of the house were both rich and successful "Cliff" a doctor and Clair a lawyer. I enjoyed this show for the funny moments it brought. The adventures of the Huxtable kids always found entertaining never a dull moment was found with Sondra, Denise, Theo, and little Rudy. Most important the character of Bill Cosby that being Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable was the one to watch. I always looked at Bill and even his character as a role model for the good advice that was given. "Cliff" and even Bill Cosby always did listen and give great advice to a person. Both made great father figures, no wonder "The, Cosby Show" was such a hit and made Bill Cosby so popular and wealthy in the entertainment business. You can still watch the reruns of this hit series on TBS so watch your friend many times again that being Bill Cosby and Dr. Heathcliff.
Even though it ended its first network run nearly eight years ago, The Cosby Show continues to make us laugh through reruns on many local stations and cable networks. That is what its legacy really is. It certainly was important, since it rescued the sitcom from oblivion and showed us that African-American families can be just as "normal" as anyone else's. But more than that, it never stopped being funny, has not stopped being funny, and never will stop being funny. It was one of the best sitcoms of its day, and now is one of the best of any day. Bill Cosby was a great comedian, Phylicia Rashad and the kids on the show were all great actors, particularly Malcolm-Jamal Warner, and they all had great chemistry that never diminished in eight years together. Though it did slip a little bit toward the end, the writing and the show itslef never truly did lose their quality. Do you think this show will keep us entertained for years to come? As Theo might say, "No problem!"
The first season of the Cosby Show made it one of the finest shows on television. However, I do feel that as the show wore on it became a little bit preachy. However, it still had its moments. I really enjoyed the episodes that dealt with Theo and his struggles with school. I could relate to that because I had troubles with school at times. I also could not get how people could begrudge the show because it showed African Americans that were part of the upper class and as positive images and not the negative stereotypes that were so prevalent. Also, you could see the evolution of the various characters, especially Rudy who went from a precocious five year old to a teenager throughout the course of the show. All in all though, it still was a good show.
This fabulous series, deservedly still remaining popular in re runs,
depicts family interactions in such an amusing light. Great viewing for
youngsters since the offspring on this show, despite assorted
rebellious phases, moods, and disagreements, invariably treat Mom & Dad
with the respect they both expect and deserve. Of course the series is
legendary, and quite deservedly so, for its landmark portrayal of a
well educated, affluent Afro American family. True, maybe the Huxtables
don't represent the typical American family (black or otherwise), but I
consider it a positive and uplifting depiction of a FUNCTIONAL family.
The program chronicles the amusing interactions of the Huxtable family, who live in a lovely, well appointed Brooklyn brownstone. The father, Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, is an obstetrician and the mother, Claire, a lawyer. They have five children ranging from kindergarten to college age...Sondra (initially off at Princeton), Denise (a funky rebel), Theo (a charming underachiever eventually revealed as dyslexic), Vanessa (originally an insecure pre teen), and Rudy (the cute, precocious, and rather spoiled baby of the family). As the series progresses, four of the offspring go off to college, various romances come & go, Sondra marries med school student Elvin and has twins (Nelson & Winnie, after the Mandelas), and Denise weds the divorced sailor, Martin, who has an adorable little girl, Olivia. The Huxtable family is eventually also joined by Claire's teenage cousin, Pam.
The cast are all stellar in their roles...Phylicia Rashad (Claire), Sandra Le Beuf (Sondra), Lisa Bonet (Denise), Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo), Tempestt Bledsoe (Vanessa), Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy), and of course the incredible Bill Cosby himself as Heathcliff. Personally, my favourite character apart from Heathcliff himself, is the charismatic, cool ne'er do well, Theo. I also love his sidekick, Cockroach, as well as Rudy's hilarious little friend, Kenny!
In a sense, it's a bit of a modern Father Knows Best, albeit well laced with humour. The perpetually funny but wise Heathcliff has an amazing relationship with his children, a treasure trove of sound fatherly advice, and especially endless patience. He never loses his temper but always deals good naturedly with every challenge...whether an outrageous outfit, dead pet goldfish, poor report card, unsavoury boyfriend, dropping out of college or surprise marriage announcement. One of my favourite episodes depicts Cliff demonstrating to Theo just how rapidly his puny salary will disappear if he doesn't get a college education, especially if he has a girlfriend! Not only is Cliff a wonderful father, but also the obstetrician every female viewer wishes could deliver her babies! The chemistry and banter between him and wife, Claire, are both fabulous.
My sole complaint may not be popular, but I believe this series strengthens the myth that women can truly do it all. Claire has a successful law practice (bringing home a briefcase, presumably containing work), maintains a fairly large and spotless home, prepares lovely meals, always appears drop dead gorgeous & stylishly clad, enjoys outings with her children as well as social engagements with her husband, and invariably responds positively (never too weary) to her charming but rakish husband's bedroom advances. Above all, she's an exemplary mother to her FIVE children, always appropriately in the know regarding their homework assignments, school antics, relationships with friends, college or dating woes, and parties they shouldn't be attending. Really, she's quite a remarkable lady...and all with no sign of any maid, live in nanny, or significant involvement of her husband and youngsters with household chores.
However, though many aspects may not be realistic, it's a wonderful series overall. The Cosby Show presents uplifting programming for Afro Americans (and everyone else), frequently bringing into discussion Martin Luther King Jr. and other such inspiring personages. A tip of my hat to this series and all the entertainment contributions of Bill Cosby, who must surely be one of the funniest human beings alive. The show provides a humorous take on many everyday family challenges and generally speaking, bears a wealth of positive family messages, all conveyed in a way that induces a chuckle.
I rarely go to DVDs of old TeeVee shows. The edge that could have made
many of then work when new has long dulled. Nostalgia is a bad way to
motivate a life. But this was a reminder of a day, shortly after the US
almost lost itself forever. The great national tragedy was slavery
not that it happened, because nations do many dishonorable things. But
because we clung to it so tightly, reinventing it in subtle ways.
In my memory, three things changed that. There was the civil rights movement of course and its nobility in peaceful stands for justice. There was the profound decision by Coca-Cola to fashion ads that portrayed a nation of many colors. Many people overlook the significance of this and its powerful effect, cinematic equality.
And then there was Cosby. Here was a man with practices affability. No joke was demeaning. All jokes had to do with family, kinship, a world with no disharmony and only small everyday events. He did not invent domestic humor. TeeVee had it cooking long before he arrived. But he did it better than anyone then and since. His warmth made it. And he had a black face.
That face is the device on which all episodes of the show rely. A setup, a comment and then Bill's face reacting. A simple formula. Simple jokes; powerful face. I wouldn't want to overemphasize his intent or impact. He happened to be a good man at the right time, but no less obsessed and commercial than Opra, who inherited and demeaned the role.
Revisiting these shows is revisiting history, a noble history of a noble time before the US found another way to marginalize: let kids do it by themselves.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
In the late 80's, the newborn second channel of Morocco provided some
of the best programs we ever saw, yet without the decoder, we could
only enjoy a few hours of non-encrypted programs, which was fine
they aired "The Cosby Show".
Indeed, there were those who enjoyed the show, and the others who knew what they missed thanks to a fantastic word-of-mouth. So we subscribed... and I'll never forget that "Hallelujah" feeling when I finally discovered the Huxtables. We enjoyed the "Physican of the Year" then the "First Day of School" episodes but the show won us with "The Juicer". There was something unique in the way Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) handled the incident with little Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), and such a beautiful moment when Cliff (Bill Cosby) hugged her. And I still remember that glee in my Dad's eyes in the following scene where Clair, like a good lawyer, confronted Cliff to his own responsibility and he had no other choice than naughtily pleading guilty. No other show had such inspiring displays of good education and a marital chemistry that was very sexy under a family-friendly cover. The show became an instant favorite.
To make it better, my father had to record it for his sister who didn't have the decoder, which ended with an interesting collection of Cosby VHS tapes we've been borrowing from her for years and years. These are not gratuitous anecdotes, they illustrate the power of the best family sitcom: to be deeply connected with your own family memories, this is how big 'Cosby' was at that time. And I still remember my 4-year old brother answering the phone saying "Huxtable Residence", imitating Cosby's groovy moves at the end of the second season's intro or "zerbutting" on my father's cheek the show affected our life. And when I heard the "Night time" song in the film "Ray", I immediately remembered that hilarious anniversary episode, and "I Just Called" still brings me back to that magnificent episode with Stevie Wonder. "The Cosby Show" was THE wonder and we were familiar with names like Malcolm-Jamal Warner or Tempest Bledsoe before any Bruce Willis or Julia Roberts and even at 8, I understood why the show was titled by the name of his main actor.
On a sad note, this is why I've been thinking for a long time that Malcolm Jamal Warner died: because my grandma told me that 'the son of Cosby' died, it was his real-life son, Ennis, shot dead in 1997. And the fact that Cosby and Huxtable almost make one might explain why the series is being tarnished by the rape scandal, to the point it's pulled off the air almost everywhere. It was even more revealing when my favorite website made a list of the greatest TV dads and overlooked Cliff Huxtable. But should all the harm Cosby might have done cancel all the positive things the show provided? Can we just ignore a show of such historical magnitude and with so many great messages to the youth?
Remember the pilot, Theo confesses, during a heartfelt speech, that he might not be a doctor or a lawyer like his parents but that they should love him as a son anyway. The long pause, followed by the audiences applauses are instantly swept off by Cliff's iconic answer "that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard"... there's no pride in being an underachiever if you give up before trying. Cosby was the father of five children, whose names started with 'E' as in Excellency, and his hymn to efforts was not just typical 80's inspirational stuff, it was ahead of its time because it made the 'obvious' race issue look insignificant. We never cared for the Huxtables family being Black, they were a regular successful family "happening to be Black"... but it certainly encouraged many Black young people to go to college. Should such a positive model be banned from TV?
The show was also ahead of its time on another topic: feminism. Forget "Girls", "Desperate Housewives" or "Sex and the City", "The Cosby Show" was the first feminist show and with four daughters and a mother of such classy strong-mindedness as Clair Huxtable, it was unavoidable although this "battle of the sexes" aspect annoyed me a little when the "woman-always-right" became a pattern for redundant and uninspired episodes (from the "perfect parents with imperfect kids", the series became about a "perfect mother"). I also never bought the way poor Elvin (Geoffrey Owens) was branded as a macho when most of the time, he should have grown a pair and tells Sondra (Sabrina Lebeauf) how he felt, but I guess it makes it all the more ironic that the show's reputation is ruined because of a scandal involving women.
Now, I wish I could speak about the best and the worst of the show, how I could pinpoint the start of the decline with Rudy's story episode in Season 4, the attempt to replace her with Olivia not to mention the infamous Muppet nightmare (literally), but the series needs kinder words, reminding how important it was back then, when every 80's/90's sitcom, whether to copy the model ("Growing Pains") or work on a blue-collar level ("Roseanne"), was an answer to "The Cosby Show", starting with its the biggest rival, "The Simpsons", still airing today maybe because, contrarily to "The Cosby Show", kids couldn't age and time was frozen, so the appeal stayed the same. And now, every sitcom is an answer to "The Simpsons", but that doesn't diminish the legacy of its 'big brother' "The Cosby Show", on the contrary. And ignoring this legacy by pulling the show off the air is as harmful to the show as it is to the people it inspired and can inspire in the future.
And speaking for myself, I can't ignore the show just as I can't ignore my best family memories, which the show is part of.
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