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Bill Cosby was one of the first major African-American celebrities,
starting in the 1960's when they were still a rarity. But while Cosby
to his credit eschewed the obvious "black" stereotypes, the show that
resulted was never anything greater than the average sitcom. You could
find the same jokes and situations in many other television sitcoms of
that era and before.
I did see a comic book cartoon parody of the show I found hilarious. The point was that it showed a too-clean view of a family of five. For example, a house with five children would be far messier than shown on a television show. Also, when a family doctor comes home from his office at the end of the day, he would be typically exhausted from all the screaming kids and other headaches that a family doctor goes through.
If you removed the Cosbys and substituted a white family instead, the show would hardly be different.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Most of the shows during the '80s often have an unfair nostalgic bias.
As they were considered so well done then, the memory cheats and
realizes that they couldn't have been that well made. Sadly, this is an
unfair conceit. Most of the shows that were well-liked do have an
unmistakable charm to them. The Cosby Show, however, is not one of
While this could be mistakenly attributed to the last seasons of the show where the wheels fell of the premise and it started relying on its laurels, the real truth is that the Cosby Show had no real bite to it. As TV, it seemed to work because it was on every week and in the same spot so you could set your watch by it. But if one catches a few reruns in which the show is aired twice or more, the holes start showing. The Cosby Show doesn't have humor as much as it's a kickback to the pseudo-moralistic 1950s bland television in which something happens, someone finds out, and a moral is shot out. While a common criticism of this show is that it does not accurate represent race, the real truth is that the show doesn't represent human beings in any way, shape, or form. There are no real issues handled in a realistic manner. There are no real characterization outside of archetypes that date back to "Leave It To Beaver." Theo could be interchanged with Wally Cleaver or Eddie Haskell at various points in the show's run. Bill Cosby's character could be Gomez Addams mixed with the ghost of Dick Van Dyke. The lack of true characterization is what dooms this show. If anything, the Cosby Show was able to be a classic because it was right on the precipice of the old sitcom mold and what was to come but not yet formed style of television making. It did what it did well, but what it did wasn't anything groundbreaking. The Cosby Show could have been about homosexual Martian plumbers who collected Spawn figures, and the archetypes would have been exactly the same from every sitcom that came before it. Race wasn't a factor outside of publicity. Anybody could have inhabited those roles and made a classic. They did: it was a mold used for various sitcoms since the rise of popular television.
That said, the show just isn't interesting anymore. Now that Cosby's best-known show has faded into the ether for fifteen-plus years, its lack of characterization really plays against it. While most people alive and watching then could easily recognize the plot of the show, the fun is just no longer there. Outside of the new and the generally accepted opinion that the show was funny at parts, the show just has nothing to it. Most of the actors on it have faded into the ether along with the show or have done nothing of real consequence since then. They're not untalented, but the show gave them nothing to stand out with. With archetypes for characters, nobody stands out unless the plot directs them to.
In short, the show that represented the best years NBC has ever had is now just a forgotten relic without any punch in a world full of more interesting programming. While it is a piece of the past, there's nothing to recommend it outside of nostalgia. While this is unfortunate, it was the same fate that befell most of the shows that it based off of. Considering the fate of that sitcom mold, perhaps the Cosby Show can claim some sort of victory. At least it used the mold when it was somewhat respectable, and not tarnished by has-beens with the last names of Belushi and Sheen.
Not a good ending, but not as bad as it could have been. Too bad the DVDs haven't been given any respect.
I grew up with a crush on Clair, Sandra and Denise (who didn't like
Denise?) and most of all I grew up watching him on TV, (it was still
running live telecasts when I was born). I really loved the ways that
Cliff Huxtable dealt with the kids and I am sure that many parents
across America ventured to be more like him and deal with their kids as
he did (although it would be nice if we could). The best thing about
the show was that while it did show a well-off black family, it was not
preachy about the plight of blacks and was woven gently into the plots
with humor, with humor you can remember it a lot easier than if someone
just preached it at you. It was a vehicle that did in fact continue the
"movin' on up" legacy that shows like The Jeffersons and Good Times
started but most of all making it about family life and how parents and
children relate to each other thus, making it timeless.
Some shows are for a time, but this show most of all, will be on as long as time exists.
For the critics of the show, it was a little ideal and a bit unrealistic for the people who say that I say this: THis is TV but TV is based on real life, and if you sit for 30 minutes in any household, it will be boring as all crap, and more importantly a lot of work goes into creating & writing sitcoms, critics should be writers themselves before they criticize a show, because is too easy to criticize but not to rework it to be accessible as you see it Thank you
Actor Bill Cosby was a fixture on television throughout the 1960's and
1970's. His success had been adequate,but far from impressive. By
1984,the network NBC wanted a show that would endeared not only by
minority groups,but also by white America. NBC-TV by 1984 was the third
most watched network in America,mostly in competition with CBS and ABC
for the title of ratings supremacy. On September 20,1984,NBC introduced
to audiences "The Cosby Show",which was the very definition of a
Neilsen ratings monster as it devoured the competition along with
"Cheers" and "Hill Street Blues" for the better part of the mid-1980's
and early 1990's in which made NBC a huge winner and the most watched
network during its powerhouse Thursday night line-up. The series was a
masterpiece for the astounding eight seasons that it was on the air,and
even after some 25 years later "The Cosby Show" still holds the title
as one of the greatest sitcoms ever produced.
According to TV Guide,the show "was TV's biggest hit in the 1980's,and almost single-handedly revived the sitcom genre and NBC's ratings fortunes". The series also made history as well. "The Cosby Show" was one of the first successful sitcoms based on the subject matter of a standup comedian's act,blazing a trail for other programs in its wake. During its eight year-run was one of three television programs that have been #1 in the Nielsen Ratings for five consecutive seasons(the others being "All In The Family"). Having aired for 201 episodes,"The Cosby Show" is the third-longest running sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast,which was surpassed only by "The Jeffersons",and "Family Matters",and is close to "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" for continuous run. This was a grand series that was basically focus on the life of Bill Cosby,with a few creative twists which gave Cosby full creative control of his own television sitcom. The series focused on the Huxtables family....Cliff(Bill Cosby)an obstetrician who was the head of the family. The matriarch was his wife,attorney Clair(Phylicia Rashad),along with his five children,eldest daughter Sondra(Sabrina LeBeauf),Denise(Lisa Bonet),Vanessa(Tempestt Bledsoe),and the youngest of the clan,Rudy(Keisha Knight-Pulliam). The only son was Theo(Malcolm Jamal-Warner). Lisa Bonet's character of Denise left the series in 1987 for the spin off "A Different World",which Bonet lasted one season,but came back to "The Cosby Show" in previous episodes.
The show in its day,despite its comedic tone,dealt with serious subjects including various themes such as civil rights and in one episode Theo experiences dealing with dyslexia. The series was a milestone in television history frequently promoting African-American and African cultures which were represented by artists and musicians such as Jacob Lawrence,Miles Davis,James Brown,Stevie Wonder,Lena Horne,Quincy Jones,Ray Charles,and Miriam Makeba not to mention others including special guest appearances by Maya Angelou,Alex Haley,Aretha Franklin,B.B. King,and Joe Williams. And it shows in the number of awards "The Cosby Show" received..including various Emmy and Golden Globe awards,NAACP image awards,and People's Choice Awards.
From September 20,1984 until its astounding run on September 17,1992. Producing 201 episodes,that was the golden child of sitcoms and even after 25 years later..it still reigns supreme.
Bill Cosby's brainchild "The Cosby Show" gave us a glimpse into the everyday existence of the Huxtables, an African American family consisting of successful obstetrician Heathcliff(Bill Cosby), law firm partner Claire(Phylicia Rashad), & five children ranging from college to elementary school age. From oldest to youngest are Princeton student Sondra(Sabrina Le Beauf), high school senior Denise(Lisa Bonet), Jr. high school student Theo(Malcolm-Jamal Warner), middle school student Vanessa(Tempest Bledsoe) & elementary school student Rudy(Keisha Knight Pulliam). Each child comes with their own set of problems & mishaps. The show centers around how Cliff & Claire handle each situation related to their family dynamic & the results. No matter in the good or bad times, both parents deal with their & their children's lives with understanding, patience, humor, & lots of love. Along the course of the show's long run, we get to meet other family members such as Cliff's parents & Claire's parents, cousin Pam Tucker(Erika Alexander) & family friend regulars like Cockroach, Peter, & Kenny. Also, new members join the cast in Elvin/Geoffrey Owens(Sandra's husband), Martin/Joseph C. Phillips(Denise's Navy husband), stepdaughter Olivia/Raven Symone'(Martin's daughter), & Dabnus Brickey(Vanessa's fiancé). All in all, a wonderful comedic/dramatic sitcom that the whole family will enjoy. The show is in syndication, so everyone can watch until taken off the air. A pleasure since its inception (1984), "The Cosby Show" broke stereotypes of African American culture & career achievements by displaying the Huxtables as "successful", not poor & struggling like "Good Times". The show won T.V. awards & achieved the accolades not reached by Black dominated sitcoms to this era. Times do ever change, & "The Cosby Show" proved that notion.
"The Cosby Show" certainly does produce many wonderful memories for many of
us and I include myself in this category. I have wonderful memories of
watching "The Cosby Show" throughout my childhood and thoroughly enjoying
each episode that came along.
"The Cosby Show" was one of the most successful family-oriented shows I know of. You almost felt like one of their family as you watched them go through all their experiences and watched the children mature into adults. I'm sure that a lot of families could relate to the experiences that Bill and Claire went through with both their children and with themselves.
I must confess to missing "The Cosby Show" immensely. It was a big part of my childhood and growing up
In television's Golden Age, the 1950's, there was "Father Knows Best"
and "Leave it to Beaver". The 1960's had "The Danny Thomas Show". In
the 1970's there was of course "The Brady Bunch". Then in the 1980's
came another feel good family comedy called "The Cosby Show" which was
the first time this TV genre was devoted to an all African American
The patriarch of this loving, and well structured nuclear family was none other than veteran actor/comedian Bill Cosby himself. Cosby played an obstetrician named Heathcliff Huxtable, with a loving,loyal yet very independent and professional wife Claire, played by Phyllicia Rashad.
Cliff and Claire a litigation attorney by trade, had five kids ranging in age from kindergarten to college. Rudy, the youngest (Keshia Knight Pulliam), Vanessa (Tempest Bledsoe), Theo (Cliff and Clair's only son played by Malcolm Jamal Warner), Denise (Lisa Bonet) and oldest child Sandra (Sabrina Lebeauf) living away at Princeton.
"The Cosby Show" went through the trials and tribulations of all of the kids growing up and their adolescent problems. Even though the sitcom was centered around the dean of comedy, Bill Cosby, the only irreplaceable member of this show, the other actors were well cast and their characters were well drawn out. Claire was also fabulous as the 80's do it all mother, hard working and strong willed yet conscientious and nurturing to all of her children.
Of course Bill Cosby was perfectly cast as the patriarch of the Huxtable clan. He was a father who could do it all. Spend quality time with all his kids, always give them good advice, tend to all of their problems many of them being silly and trivial, and still hold down a great full time career.
There was one thing I always loved and admired about Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, the father. He never lost his temper with his kids, despite their immaturity and bad decisions.At least Heathcliff never showed it in his demeanor to his kids,whether it was Theo failing in school, or Sandra living in squalor with her husband Elvin, or Vanessa refusing to leave Cliff and Claire alone for the night because she was having nightmares of a R-Rated movie Claire forbid her to see.
Cliff never lost his temper with Denise, even with all of her contemptuous boyfriends, her weird outfits, and high strung personality. Densise never really fit well into the feel good, well structured authoritarian Huxtable household. She was always like a rebel without a cause, and when her rebellious boyfriend (Kristoff St. John) broke bread with Cliff and Claire for the first time, Denise decided to join his cause, even though she didn't really know what it was. David James was a vegetarian and not for ethical or environmental reasons, but because he had a vendetta against the medical establishment. He also had a vendetta against the legal establishment too, Claire's profession.
When David came to dinner with intentionally wearing mismatched socks, he looked like the perfect boyfriend for bandanna wearing, nose piercing, totally 80's hip Denise. But she quickly broke it off with him. HE WASN'T HER TYPE.
"The Cosby Show" drew light on many of these new teen fashion trends, which used to make parents blood boil, but today are commonplace. Remember the episode when Theo came home with an earring, and was desperately trying to hide it from his dad. Today half of all young males who weren't born when this episode originally aired in 1984 have their ears pierced.
Cliff always knew the right things to say to all kids, the good ones as well as the rebels. He was kind, considerate, sociable, yet still fatherly and authoritarian. Bill Cosby himself was always a master at relating to kids of all ages, from toddlers all the way through the oldest college students. It was fun seeing his character Heathcliff play fatherly figure to some of Denise and Theo's weird and drug using friends, yet also be able to warm up to insecure Vanessa and hers, and of course little Rudy and her little gang of rug-rats.
Cliff had so many great moments with Rudy, like when he was trying to teach her that eventually everything that lives, dies, like her poor little goldfish "Lamont", that she kept feeding even though it was floating on its back. Rudy was upset but got over it quickly, and Cliff got carried away with the goldfish's "funeral".
Vanessa unlike Rudy always had a problem with insecurity and lack of perseverance. She would always try a new activity, but would lack the motivation to excel at what she did. This reminds me of myself. This just brought out some of the immaturity of the Huxtable kids.
The only major problem I had with "The Cosby Show" is that it did not accurately and truthfully portray the average middle class American family, and certainly did not portray the average, urban African American family. How many average black families, all right, how many white families live in a beautiful Brooklyn townhouse where the father is a successful medical doctor, and the mother is a successful lawyer? And of course both still have more than enough time to devote to their kids without a live in nanny. I think that two lesser known but above average sitcoms from the 1970's "What's Happening!!" and "Good Times" were a more realistic portrayal of urban African American life.
"The Cosby Show" was written more in the style of feel good family sitcoms from the 1950's and 1960's like "The Brady Bunch", "My Three Sons" and "Leave it to Beaver", than a realistic portrayal of the mainstream African American family. Nevertheless "The Cosby Show" is among the fifty greatest sitcoms in television history. This show was a Thursday night 1980's classic.
"THE COSBY SHOW," in my opinion, is a pure definition of must-see TV! I'm not sure if I've never seen every episode, but I still enjoyed it. One of my favorite episodes is where Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe) disobeys Clair (Phylicia Rashad) and goes to Baltimore for a concert. If you want to know why, you'll have to have seen it for yourself. Before I wrap this up, I'd like to say that everyone always gave a good performance, the production design was spectacular, the costumes were well-designed, and the writing was always very strong. In conclusion, even though it can be seen in syndication now, I strongly recommend you catch it just in case it goes off the air for good.
This was one great show starring Bill Cosby as Dr. Husktable who is a doctor that delivers babies. They live in the suburbs of Chicago and are raising 4 children at home and one married. The family includes little Rudy, Vanessa, Theo, Denise, Sondra(who is married), the wife Claire and Elvin(who is married to Sondra). This was one big family but was very caring when coming to their kid's education. All the children's life was different from each other, little Rudy being the youngest had friends that always were involved with young things, Vanessa being a teenager always trying to things that her friend Maxcine was trying, Theo was always getting in trouble about school with his parents, Denise was off at college studies but then tries to experiment with life without going to college, and Sondra who is married to Elvin and they own a Wilderness Store. This is a very interesting family but things do get as the girls get older and they move on start their own lives. The family does encounter problems but nothing that can't stop fun and happiness. I enjoyed the show and still do to this day.
Need I say more about a show that depicted a successful
African-American family that had its ups and downs but still made us
laugh out loud each and every Thursday evening during its spectacular
eight year run on NBC during the 1980's? Yes,The Cosby Show was all
that and so much more. This gentle yet hip family comedy was the number
one program on television for much of the mid-1980's(it was the Number
One show at the top of the Nielsen for the five consecutive seasons
that it was on the air)and a striking reminder that TV shows don't have
to built on gimmicks to succeed. The series was the first and foremost
to be based on a successful standup comedian's act. Bill Cosby had full
creative control of this series as well as being the executive
producer. Although the main focus was on the immediate family,a number
of other characters were seen occasionally,Cliff's parents Anna and
Russell and Clair folks Carrie and Al Hanks turned up once in a while
as well as a host of other characters during its entire eight year-run.
The series produced 201 episodes and it was on NBC's biggest hits of the 1980's and well into the early 1990's. Premiering on September 20,1984 until May 17,1992 the series was one of its biggest hits on the Thursday night lineup in cohort with "Cheers" and "Hill Street Blues" as it winning combination. No wonder it became one of the biggest sitcoms of the 80's and for good reason it still holds the title.
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