Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Cosby's @ 25

I was pretty pleased to watch The Cosby Show's 25th Anniversary today on The Today Show. The show and I have long had a complicated relationship. I am the only [Black] person I know who enjoys but simply regards the show as just a good TV sitcom.

I have grown accustomed to being around friends, classmates, colleagues, and even family letters who credit Bill Cosby and his "great experiment" with single handedly redefining the Black Family experience the world's perception of it. I've always seen that view as unfortunate, at best, but always kept my mouth shut for fear of being lambasted and accused of being an inauthentic colored.

Personally, I grew up in that house. My neighbors grew up in that house. My classmates grew up in that house. I had, and still have, two parents who love me. I have parents who worked their way through college and waited until they were stable to have children. My parents had educated friends who had children just like me. In the 80's & 90's, my dad [and I] wore, what we now recognize to be hideously ugly sweaters. We lived in a house that had enough rooms to accommodate all the members of the family. I could go on all day, trust me, but my point is simply that Blacks were living normal, well adjusted lives even during the civil rights movement.

I'm personally offended when I hear people suggest that Black People learned how to live in harmony, stay married, love their children, and develop ambition from a 1980's situational comedy. My grand parents did not have the benefit of Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable.

The Cosby Show depicts Bill Cosby's life and the cast members on the show. It tells the story he wanted to tell. While I love Bill Cosby, I applaud him for bringing quality, positive stories to television, but not for raising a generation of making Black success more palatable to Whites.

Check out clips from the today's interview with Bill Cosby, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Phylicia Rashad, Raven-Symoné Pearman, Geoffrey Owens and Earle Hyman The Today Show's Matt Lauer. I assume no one else could make it...

I was a bit troubled by Lauer's comparison of Barack Obama to Heathcliff Huxtable and I am glad the bait wasn't taken. I absolutely loved Malcolm-Jamal Warner & Phylicia Rashad's comments, respectively. I agree wholeheartedly with Rashad that, "We are more alike than we will ever be different and given the opportunity we are willing and wanting to embrace the likeness." Bill, God bless him, tried to real Miss Raven into the show, but comparing Cosby to "That's So Raven" on the Disney Channel? No, no, no. The show undoubtedly helped to change the way Blacks were portrayed on TV, but we have definitely pissed on that with our patronage of BET, TVOne, The Real House Wives of Atlanta, For The Love Of Ray J, Being Bobby Brown, Soul Plane, and the list goes on!

1 comment:

DynamicDiva said...

I completely agree with you. I grew up in a household with parents who were lawyers. We lived in a large house in a nice neighborhood. Among other things my parents believed in education, discipline, and being respectful but I wouldn't necessarily compare our life to that of the Huxtables.

It's always been interesting to me that people saw The Cosby Show as this ideal Black family who was so different from that of "normal" Black families.

All Black families aren't single-parent households. All Black families didn't come from meager beginnings. Not that there's anything wrong with that but it seems as though people fail to realize that we are all very different. We can't be lumped into one or two categories.

But I digress, I appreciate The Cosby Show for helping the mainstream to realize that there are successful, well-adjusted Black families out there. During The Today Show one of the members of the cast said it best. They were trying to depict the life of a normal family, who just happened to be Black.