Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Cosby Show
The show was centered around the Huxtable family, an upper-middle-class family living in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Patriarch Heathcliff (an obstetrician/gynecologist) and his wife Clair (a lawyer) presided over a raucous yet loving household. In every way, they were an utterly typical American sitcom family, with the notable exception that they were African-American. The topics of the show were the usual difficulties of children growing up, a notable example being son Theo's experiences of dealing with dyslexia, based on Cosby's real-life child Ennis who was dyslexic.
The show was extremely well-regarded, winning three Emmys as well as three NAACP Image Awards and a Peabody Award. It was also notable as being highly popular with white viewers and around the world, unlike many other television shows featuring mainly African-American characters. The show has been praised for its portrayal of positive child rearing methods. For instance, in the first episode, Heathcliff confronts his son about his poor grades and Theo responds that he should accept his son's weaknesses and love him unconditionally because they are father and son--a typical plot sentimental idiom in family sitcoms of that time, and which generated the typical applause from the studio audience. Heathcliff, however, to the audience's surprised and amused approval, immediately and angrily calls this sentiment "the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life," completely rejecting the notion that loving his son means he must quietly and willingly accept it when the boy does not give his best effort in school.
At the time of the show's original broadcast, some people criticized the show for presenting a unrealistic portrayal of an African-American family as wealthy and for its lack of addressing black-white relations. Others felt that the show was simply a portrayal of what African-Americans could potentially become. They also felt that portraying an African-American family as a normal family with normal family issues was generally a positive contribution to issues of race in the United States.
The success of the show spawned a spin-off series called A Different World, which dealt with the life of Denise, the second-eldest Huxtable daughter, at Hillman, a Fictional Historically Black College.
The ratings for each season, at the end of the season, were:
|1989-1990||#1 (tied with Roseanne)|
- Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff "Cliff" Huxtable
- Phylicia Rashad as Clair Huxtable
- Sabrina Le Beauf as Sondra Huxtable (1985-1992)
- Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable (1984-1987, 1989-1991)
- Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore "Theo" Huxtable
- Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable
- Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable
- Geoffrey Owens as Elvin Tibideaux (1986-1992)
- Joseph C. Phillips as Lt. Martin Kendall (1989-1991)
- Raven-Symoné as Olivia Kendall (1989-1992)
- Erika Alexander as Pam Tucker (1990-1992)
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