The Cosby Show remains one of the most revolutionary television series in history and remains an inspiration for hit Black sitcoms like black-ish and others. The series made its debut on this day in 1984, but is now largely gone from the public eye due to Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations.
The series aired on NBC and became a huge success. The hit ratings was unfathomable to many, since the main protagonists were African-American, professional, and not buffoonish caricatures of Black America.
Cosby, who played gynecologist Cliff Huxtable, and his television wife Claire, played by Phylicia Rashad, presented a slice of Americana that wasn’t readily familiar to many but won fans over by simply being true to its family values and strong storytelling. The series had an impressive eight-season run that eventually led to the spin-off series, A Different World.
Starring Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable, A Different World gave Middle America perhaps its first glimpse into the Historically Black College and University experience en route to garnering its own strong following.
The Cosby Show went off the air in 1993 and is no longer in syndication after Cosby’s controversial private life was exposed. The show’s connection to Cosby was once seen as a good thing and the series had a strong cult following, but future generations may never have the chance to view the groundbreaking TV show as a testament to the strength of the Black family unit.