Here is why you should go and get the DVD or catch the re-runs
By Ambra Nykol
I will forever extol the virtues of one of the greatest television shows ever created. As a child of the Reagan era, I am probably the biggest "Cosby Show" fan you will ever meet.
I have every episode memorized and were there a "Cosby Show" version of Jeopardy, I would be the Ken Jennings of Huxtable family trivia--except I wouldn't be Mormon (or white, or named Ken).
Beyond pure entertainment (the Gordon Gartrelle shirt episode cracks me up every single time), the enduring nature of "The Cosby Show" can be attributed to a plotline that deals with real-life scenarios and principles common to every family. Minus the real-time references to one-hit-wonder celebrities and philosophical trends of the age, the show has remained timeless. That is, not counting the insane number of times the pubescent Malcolm Jamal Warner wore incredibly tight sweatpants.
The 1980s need to be burned for that.
Moreover, "The Cosby Show's" ultimate success was its hard-line presentation of traditional family values--the same values that current American television couldn't touch with a 10-foot-magnetized pole.
Although many would disagree, I might also add that Cosby's vision for the show managed to do more for black American television representation in 30-minute increments, than D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer, Bernie Mac, or Damon Wayans have been able to do in their combined lifetimes.
In all the fabulosity of the members of the Huxtable family, the fact still stands that we are all the product of extreme dysfunction. Nevertheless, in their own dysfunctional way, the Huxtables presented an attainable standard which every family could emulate.
Some brief points of difference:
A two-parent home. By George, they exist! One male. One female. The display of a black American, functional marriage on national television is a rare commodity, even to this day. Some of our society's most talented and profound members were raised in single-parent homes. Single parents are great, courageous, heroic and strong, but that is not the ultimate design.
From Lagos to London, The Cosby Show was popular throughout the Black world
The presentation of marriage as a good thing. She loved him. He was wild about her. They didn't "complete" each other. Instead, they complemented each other.
Educated and professional black people who own their home and can afford an $11,000 Ellis Wilson original. One of the continued points of contention with "The Cosby Show" is that it presented an unbelievable and unrealistic scenario.
The fact that Clair was a lawyer and Cliff a doctor was just too far-fetched for some people to handle. I find that to be one of the biggest pieces of condescending nonsense.
Seriously, the liberal mindset baffles even me!
Children who respected their parents. Couple that with parents who demand respect. No Supernanny necessary. I always enjoyed the number of times Clair looked like she wanted to clock her 5 children. "Clock" is the more gentile form of "beat."
No Shacking Up. The one time Theo tried to do it, Cliff and Clair weren't having it. On nearly every television show today, you see men and women who are not married living together. It has become the societal norm.
All-Heterosexual Relationships. Enough said.
I could go on. Renee Graham of the Boston Globe presents a fairly balanced view of the show's strengths and weaknesses. Needless to say, I'm getting the DVD. You should too. It will be worth money someday. If not that, it could make a very good dissertation topic.
In related discussion, blogger "Ripclawe" points out that "The Cosby Show" is responsible for two of the greatest quotes in television (edited by me for correctness because I have every.line.memorized.):
[Theo has received a "D" and is explaining why he should not be punished]
Theo: You're a doctor and Mom's a lawyer, and you're both successful in everything and that's great! But maybe I was born to be a regular person and have a regular life. If you weren't a doctor, I wouldn't love you less, because you're my dad. So rather than feeling disappointed because I'm not like you, maybe you should accept who I am and love me anyway, because I'm your son.
Cliff: Theo. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life!! No wonder you're getting D's in everything. Now you're afraid to try because you're afraid that your brain is going to explode and it's going to ooze out of your ears! Now you're going to try because I SAID SO. I AM YOUR FATHER!! I BROUGHT YOU IN THIS WORLD AND I'LL TAKE YOU OUT!!!
[On Vanessa complaining about the family being "rich"]
Cliff: Your mother and I are rich; you have nothing.
Ambra Nykol is a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Soundpolitics.com, Seaspot magazine and Modestly Yours. She owns and blogs at nykola.com
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