The Cosby Show 30+ Years Later: The Revolution Was Televised

Even though 2020 marks 35 years since The Cosby Show aired its famous “Anniversary” episode on TV, it remains one of the most revolutionary television series in history. It set the standard for family sitcoms since and served an inspiration for hit shows like black-ish, My Wife & Kids and others. The series made its debut in 1984, but is now largely gone from the public eye due to Bill Cosby’s sexual assault allegations and now recent conviction.

Every Thursday night, families gathered around the TV and turned to NBC to see what the first family of television was up to that week. The Cosby Show was actually the cornerstone of what became NBC’s signature “Must-See TV” campaign.

But despite Bill Cosby’s conviction, and the multiple stories of rape and hurt, many believe that most African-American viewers are able to make the distinction between the disgraced comedian, Bill Cosby, and his television character of Cliff Huxtable.

One person put it best, “It’s like watching your favorite uncle who gave you everything and was an example for all of the good you aspired to be in life, and you suddenly learn that behind closed doors, he was a monster. That’s a hard thing to process.”

(Photo credit: Youtube screenshot)

Cosby, who played gynecologist Cliff Huxtable, and his television wife Claire, an attorney, played by Phylicia Rashad, won fans over by simply being true to its family values and strong storytelling. Never before has television seen both African American parents, both doing well in their occupation and have that number of children. The family wasn’t perfect, they dealt with unruly children, family issues, racism, death, merging families and more, but they made it work.

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The series had an impressive eight-season run that eventually led to spin-off another award-winning 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 and garnered its own strong following.

The last original Cosby Show episode aired in 1992 and is barely in syndication after Cosby’s controversial allegations came to light. Despite his legacy, the Cosby Show made it’s mark on the world that has still hasn’t been unmatched.

Now, one by one, outlets have been turning off the light that this once beloved sitcom stood for.

Below are some of the favorite episodes, voted on by the fans.