I’ve seen this shared a lot and thought I may as well share my thoughts with everyone. There is plenty of space to do a more thorough analysis of the importance of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable but, these are just some facts of the matter.
The Cosby Show originally aired from 1984 to 1992.
Aside from Family Matters (which premiered in 1989), there was not a single show on television at the time besides this one that had:
1. Black kids raised by Black parents
2. Centered the experience of raising children
3. Ran for more than one season
4. The dad wasn’t a complete asshole to his children
In fact, I’m pretty sure Family Matters was the poor man’s answer to The Cosby Show. Instead of an affluent doctor/lawyer pair, the Winslows were a beat cop and elevator operator who struggled to figure out how to get all the bills paid. In fact, even as lieutenant, thry couldn’t afford to send Laura to Harvard so she went to the University of Chicago.
Bernie Mac’s character was a jerk. (2001-2006)
Terry Crews’s character meant well, but he was a jerk. (2005-2009)
Damon Wayan’s character was a jerk. (2001-2005)
The Fresh of Bel Air ran from 1990-1996. Its the only show mentioned here that even was on the air at the same time as The Cosby Show. Raven-Symone joined the show in 1990 to restore the cutesy factor because the show had already been on the air so long that the Huxtable kids weren’t young and adorable anymore.
Maybe Dr. Huxtable was a jerk to some degree too but perhaps my 80s baby rose tinted glasses prevents me from categorizing him clearly as such.
All of these shows benefitted from the work and longevity of The Cosby Show. Undeniably. That is the legacy.
Bill Cosby is a rapist and I can’t watch many of the episodes because I can feel his creepiness through the screen but the show still changes television as we know it. Citing shows that aired a decade after The Cosby Show went off is just… 🙄 Perhaps this is a generational issue. I actually remember when Bill Cosby was everywhere. I remember when new episodes aired, including the finale. (I was six. I cried.)
Check out this article and incredibly thorough (and heartbreaking) timeline of PoC families on television.