By now, everyone should be familiar with the famous Cosby Show: A 1984 sitcom that follows the life of an upper-middle class African-American family, living in Brooklyn, New York. Cliff and Clair Huxtable are a doctor and lawyer with five children: Denise, Theo, Vanessa, Rudy and Sondra.
The show spawned several trends in 80s media, including the influx in African-American comedies and sitcoms such as “In Living Color”, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Family Matters”.
However, once the show ended in 1992, so did the cultural movement of having positive African American influences in the media. “In Living Color” ended in 1994 and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” ended in 1996. Along with the new millenium came new media.
Now the idea of successful, classy African-Americans is almost nonexistent. Where people once looked for family friendly comedy with excellent role models, they now turn to women calling each other the “B-word” or men calling each other the “N-word.”
Shows such as “Black Ink” and “Real Housewives of Atlanta” seem as if they were meant to depict successful African-Americans. Unfortunately, instead of showing the good side of their success, the main goal of the show is to cast a dark light on their success and reinforces almost every stereotype of black people with money, jealousy, infidelity and illegitimate children.
However, there is hope for television yet. Caucasian families are no longer shown as perfect or rich. Shows like “The Middle” and “The King of Queens” portray an accurate view of struggles people of all colors experience.
The Huxtables are not irrelevant, but the “The Cosby Show” as a whole is. Today’s society would rather watch people of color act like a stereotype to get a laugh, even going as far to have a token Black friend to fulfill that role. Part of it is our fault as a race for being willing to take part in these roles, and as a result, that precedent is set for a generation.
Fortunately, media evolves in cycles. So, while we won’t see a family like the Huxtables for a while, I’m hopeful that generations to come will be able to illustrate a less biased worldview and present it to the masses.