Why didn’t The Cosby Show herald a new age of black sitcoms?


(The Guardian) Twenty years ago this week, the final episode of The Cosby Show aired. At its mid-80s peak, the sitcom spent four years as the most-watched programme in the US. But the lack of a televisual legacy for the show about the residents of 10 Stigwood Avenue, Brooklyn Heights, prompts the question: why didn't it pave the way for a new wave of African American sitcoms?

When it began in the autumn of 1984, The Cosby Show broke multiple TV moulds. The Huxtables were an African American family whose race and upper-middle-class socio-economic position weren't factors in thecomedy or the drama, but just facts of the narrative. Cliff was a gynaecologist, Clair was a high-powered lawyer and their eldest child, Sondra, was at Princeton – but the thrust of the show didn't hinge on these elements; it was about the normality of their day-to-day lives.

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