…Vanessa, Theo, Denise, Sodra, Rudy, Clair & Cliff

The Cosby Show (1984)

Do you know this feeling when you come back home, and comfort and safety overwhelms you? Yes? The same kind of feeling I got when I re-watched the show after many years. When I was a child, my entire family would squeeze on the sofa and laugh our hearts out during every episode. After many years, I’ve got the same familiar feeling.

The show centers around a big family: the Huxtables. Heathcliff and Clair are a model marriage. After so many years together, they behave like they just met. They’re both educated and successful in their careers. He’s a dream doctor and she – an unflinching lawyer. In their marriage, they’re partners, on equal terms: they share all the family responsibilities from cooking to reproaching the kids once they do something wrong. They also have a great relationship with their 5 kids. It’s quite uplifting to watch the smiling Huxtables, who believe in the value of education and think that family always comes first. What’s unique, the show doesn’t exclude the older generation. The grandparents come by occasionally with a good word and gifts for the kids. In a very lighthearted way, the show teaches us those values, how important it is to support each other, that honesty and integrity are not just words in a dictionary. In one episode, Claire realizes:

“Having another child would make my life better. Then, I thought about it: better than what? My life is already perfect. I got a great job, and a wonderful family, and a loving husband.”

It sounds cheesy, but then again I believe we all have a need for cheesy statements and happy people on TV once in a while. What the show does so wonderfully is bring people together – a whole family (just like mine used to) may watch it. There’s no age limit. Everyone will find something fascinating there.

As for the humor, it’s the strongest part. The humor feels universal. After twenty-something years, the jokes are still funny. It doesn’t matter what country or culture you’re from, you will laugh because things they touch upon are what people deal with every day: work, kids, home, even who can pick up the phone. The best thing – the show is not vulgar, the jokes are not obscene. Instead, they make it family-friendly. Now, TV producers and creators believe the only way to make a good show is to make it vulgar. The Cosby show laughs with the viewers, not at them. It makes it so much better and fun to watch. One of the dialogues between Dr. Huxtable, his son Theo, and his daughter’s boyfriend proves how universal it is (how many times we’ve heard this one?):

David: I’ve been reading Socrates and he believed that true learning comes from just observing the world.
Theo: Where can I get that book?
Dr. Huxtable [with a mixed face]: You don’t read, son.
Theo: Maybe there’s a movie about it.

What about Cosby himself? He’s the clown of the show, and its driving force. There are hardly any scenes without him. Funny dialogues and hilarious situations are only a part of the show. Bill Cosby goes further than just verbal jokes. He uses his appearance, the tone of his voice, his facial expressions (remember those – nothing compares to that!), even his intonation to perform gags. In result, we laugh our hearts out. What’s more, he interacts with his fellow actors, who burst in laughter, provokes their spontaneous reactions. They don’t hide it only because it’s not in the script. It’s so natural this way. Clearly, they all have a blast on the set. Quite contagious. Thanks to that, we join the fun.

The Cosby Show strikes as one of those memorable shows. We may forget particular episodes, but the feeling of having a good time stays deep in us. It feels great to refresh the show that combines humor, intellect, and family values – qualities hard to come by. One of the pleasures that don’t leave you with guilt.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

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