Thursday, April 30th, 1992. A sad, sad day…well, at least for me. From the moment I began watching television, Thursday nights at 8pm were reserved for one thing, and one thing only: a new episode of The Cosby Show. The show, I believe, played an integral part in raising me: it showed me that there could be such a thing as an affluent, educated, well-adjusted Black family; that I could dream beyond the pavement of the inner city I was raised in. I became accustomed to the characters in the show, thinking of them as the people I wanted to get to know, the sort of people I wanted to be. So on that day, the day the last episode aired, I felt like I had lost more than a favorite show: I had lost a family.
The Cosby Show was ground-breaking for so many reasons. For the most part, its premise wasn’t something that was prominent on prime time television at the time (or now, for that matter). It was about a professional Black couple, that honestly could have been any race, raising five “normal” children. The family dealt with everyday issues through humor, but they also tackled more serious topics, like theft (remember Rudy stealing money for that stupid light up sweater??), learning disabilities, and teen pregnancy. Let me tell you, their problems seemed sooo much easier than the crap I was dealing with. They provided us with a glimpse into what some consider the “bougie” side of American Black culture – jazz music, HBCUs, etc. (Not to mention that wonderful 80s and 90s fashion…trust me, I will rock a Cosby Coogi sweater today with no issue). There wasn’t a day that would go by that I didn’t wish I was one of the Huxtable children – it didn’t matter that they were fictitious – it just mattered that they could be real.
Where I grew up, living in a city where the parents were lawyers and doctors was a rare occurrence – the more likely scenario was that they were unemployed, on drugs, or working menial jobs. In a place that lacked hope, the show provided me with an abundance of it. It was the first time (at a very young age) that I expressed the desire to attend college, something my older siblings nor my parents had completed. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen positive Black role models (since my elementary school had a large number of Black professionals working there), but it perpetuated the idea that they didn’t exist just in my school…they could have been anywhere.
As I mourn the 20th anniversary of the show’s closure, I rejoice in the fact that it lives on in syndication and YouTube clips. So I leave you with this clip of the last episode, and a question: Which episode was your favorite?