The Cosby Show

By Andrea Valasquez
September 2007

The Cosby Show is about a black middle class family and their every day problems. When the Cosby Show first came on television during the 1980’s there had never been a show that showed people in this type of role. This show has changed the values of many African American families and many other races of people’s lives. What does the Cosby Show do to draw in and get you to really connect with it? Well, “The Cosby Show is really making a satire of life the way they’re doing it, average every day things that happen every day… Because what they do, is they really carry it off and say these are things that can happen to anybody, I don’t care if you’re white, black, pink, yellow, or green; this happens to everybody in every day life” (Jhally 24). It also teaches some very important family values that you can take and put into your own family. Another thing that keeps the viewer clinging to their television sets is the American Dream that the Cosby Show envisions; “A dream that speaks to us not only about what is possible but what is desirable” (Jhally 73). “I think they’re holding this family up as a role model and something to aspire to, to have smart kids and lead a nice life, and to get along well with your family, and enjoy each other; and it really is a very, very strong role model to aspire to (Jhally 73-74).

The huge success of the Cosby Show, which debuted in 1984, rejuvenated TV’s interest in the traditional two-parent family. Today relatively stable, two-parent families make up the overwhelming majority on TV: The Wonder Years, Brooklyn Bridge, Home Improvement, Major Dad, Step by Step, and Life Goes On. “The Cosby Show taught a lot of values, accepting responsibility, sharing understanding feelings, celebrating family stages and accomplishments, honoring possessions, breaking stereotypes, facing existing social problems, drugs, sibling plurality, teenage lifestyles, parental authorities, grand parenting, and family respect are several values that the Cosby Show introduced. It showed an upper-middle class black family that did not live in a vacuum- something with which most Blacks could relate” (Crenshaw). “First off they have the star of the show Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable who is the character that all the older male viewers can relate with since his the head of the household and makes lots of the decisions. He works a demanding job, and then comes home to a very large and active household.

The next character is Clair Hanks Huxtable who is the mother of the Huxtable family. In the life, she develops the calling of lawyer beside a legal study. Sondra Huxtable is the first daughter of Huxtable house. Denise Huxtable is the second daughter of the Huxtable consorts. She is gifted of a strong humor and she is also much unusual, by the way she dress and her outlooks on life. Theodore Huxtable is the third and only masculine son of the Huxtable family. He is much extroverted and also witty, and he is the classical adolescent, interested only to the entertainment, to the friends, to the girls and to the cars. Vanessa Huxtable is the second to the last daughter of Cliff and Clair Huxtable; is an excellent student in school but sometimes seems like an airhead. Rudy Huxtable is the youngest daughter of the Huxtable, she is a tender child and it naturally is that she gets the most of the attention of Cliff and Clair. She is very outgoing and she has many friends” (Payne).

By the Cosby Show having such an assortment of characters it allows for it to show family values that relate with every person in a family household. “At the heart of the family values was a strong emphasis on education; a multigenerational family; multiracial friends; and a low-key racial pride. These values made the Huxtable accessible to all audiences because the topics and beliefs that were stressed in the show were at the heart of every traditional family” (Poitier). The Cosby Show deals with mostly conservative issues that the majority of American families faced at this time. Family values is something people have to learn and by having a positive show like the Cosby Show it allows families who don’t have all the right or best values for their family to find some that they can apply to their life.


Anonymous, "The Cosby Show Changes the Way Blacks are Viewed." Comp. 11 March. 2003. Anthony Crenshaw. 9 Sep 2007 <>.

Jhally, Sut, and Justin Lewis. Enlightened Racism. Boulder: Westview P, 1992.

Payne, Monica A. "The Ideal Black Family."Sage. 2nd ed. 1994.

Poitier, Baron. "Family Values: Cosby and Bundy Parallel." 1 April. 2003. New York University. 9 Sep 2007 <>.