Saturday, March 21, 2009

25 years already

It has been 25 years since the premiere of "The Cosby Show." Wow! I remember the end of the first season with the Huxtable family performing "The Night Time" by Ray Charles. It was humorous and enlightening at the same time. It was a perfect send-off for a show that broke all the stereotypes and barriers about African-Americans on television.

Up until that time, "Good Times" was the definitive Black family sitcom. That show was positive in its message about family, but the show was set in the projects. "The Cosby Show" changed all that because they set the story around a Black family that was upper-middle class and professionally successful. It was timely because that was the era when the growth of the Black middle class was reaching its zenith.

The stories were written on a consistent family-oriented theme, based heavily on Bill Cosby's stand-up comedy routines. Cosby had already been a ground breaker, from being a male lead on a television action/drama to the "Fat Albert" cartoon show. But this will always be his crowning achievement.

The show gave us a new sense of pride, not just because it was the best show on television, but because it showed us going through our day-to-day struggles without the element of crime and poverty. It showed that all families are the same, despite our cultural differences. Cosby used the leverage he gained with the show to highlight African-American culture, from jazz to black college life, and it helped bring some understanding of us for others, using comedy as the medium of communication.

It was a definitive moment in television and in American culture and 25 years later, we are still laughing at the episodes and talking about its significance. Cosby has become a lightening rod as of late and the other actors have moved on the make a name for themselves in the entertainment industry. But "The Cosby Show" will always be an achievement that will be a part of the legacy of African-Americans' contribution to the growth of America.

25 years. Wow!