The Bill Cosby sex scandal is still a big deal. When women began to come forward and report allegations that The Cosby Show star had drugged and raped them in the past, the nation, hell, probably most of the world, was shocked. Since those initial reports, dozens of women have told almost the same story, leaving all lovers of the actor and comedian to wonder whether or not his previous legacy matters now that we can’t completely trust the image he’s presented to the public for decades. And, a large part of that legacy is wrapped up in The Cosby Show, the television program that led millions of Americans to feel like Cosby was the ultimate dad.
Now, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, formerly known as Cosby kid Theo Huxtable, has come out to tell the AP how he thinks the show that had such a direct impact on his childhood will fair as time goes on, especially in the light of the rape allegations.
My biggest concern is when it comes to images of people of color on television and film, no matter what... negative stereotypes of people of color, we've always had The Cosby Show to hold up against that. And the fact that we no longer have that, that's the thing that saddens me the most because in a few generations the Huxtables will have been just a fairy tale.
Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s comments certainly echo the thought and words of many people in the wake of the firestorm of allegations that have been revealed over the past few months. Fans of the show, and the comedian, have been deeply divided on what all this means for the beloved show.
The Cosby Show, which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1992, was one of the first network shows to give America a portrait of a successful African American family. Dr. Cliff Huxtable, his lawyer wife Clair and their five children (four still living at home), dealt with the everyday lives of an upper middle class family living in New York. Instead of worrying about “movin’ on up” or “strugglin’ and surviving”, the Huxtables were funny, fabulous, complex and very, very well-dressed (for the time, anyway).
The way the Huxtables lived was one of the most important things about The Cosby Show. Their lives of relative privilege took economic barriers out of the equation, and making life easier for the Huxtables made it easier for most of the country to identify with and laugh at their perfectly human struggles. After all, most husbands and wives disagree about how to discipline their kids and most kids mess up in the ways that Rudy, Theo, Denise, Vanessa and Sondra did.
It might seem petty to argue about the effect horrible rape allegations have on a show that ended over 20 years ago. All I can say is that when you love and have wonderful childhood memories about something, it’s hard to let those go, for any reason. Malcolm-Jamal Warner is right, this is just sad all around.