by Doug Bevins
What made The Cosby Show great? Was it the positive portrayal of the importance of family, the positive light shed on the importance of education, or how tolerance was portrayed as important? I contend that the answer is all three but before I dive into explaining why the show is great, a brief discussion of the show in general is in order. The Cosby Show ran from the mid 1980’s until 1992 and featured the Huxtable family: father: Cliff, mother Clair, children: Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy. In the course of its eight seasons, the family faces many, many different issues including but not limited to the importance of tolerance, education, the family unit, and peer pressure. It is also worth noting that, though various forms of physical punishment are mentioned or threatened in the show, none of the children are actually struck.
So why is this show so good? There are three main reasons (though many others can be found if one watches the show closely enough): importance of family, education, and tolerance. The importance of family comes to light through the constant communication between family members (asking how ones day went, dealing with an issue at school, etc). None of these things are done in a superficial manner but they are attended to with genuine love, care, and attention. Education is also portrayed as very important through the fact that skipping school is not allowed unless sick or a parent pulls a child out for the day. All of the kids go to school (high school and college). Tolerance is portrayed as important through the various races and religious backgrounds that mix freely throughout the course of each episode. So, through the course of the show the importance of family is shown on a regular basis whereas today shows like family guy portray the family as completely dysfunctional without clear communication going on amongst the family unit. Last but certainly not least tolerance is lost in shows today. Everything goes and, regardless of race, lifestyle, or belief system, if your opinion conflicts with the opinion of someone else then there will be words and in some cases a very heated disagreement. I contend that between the eras of The Cosby Show and now, we have lost focus on the importance of tolerance, the family unit, and the importance of education. This show is great because it shows what it really takes to succeed at life, family, and being part of society. It is also good because yelling is not glorified or portrayed as a key piece of getting things done. The things that I have mentioned thus far are what are missing from the image of family in society today. There are many people today who, when things get difficult or they get their girlfriend pregnant, duck and run. Parents are disconnected today compared to past generations (I do not mean all parents). There is no real, solid family values left in the world today because everything has gone grey.
This show is great because it portrays the importance of family, education, and tolerance in a very positive, fun way though not without difficult times. This show shows what it takes to be a family though not making it appear that all families are or will ever be perfect. If there were more shows like this on the air today, I firmly believe that a lot of the problems society faces will either be minimized or disappear entirely.