Phylicia Rashad Weighs In On The Cosby Show's Portrayal Of A Black Family

On Thursday night, April 30, 1992 the last episode of The Cosby Show aired. After an amazing 8 year run, and countless awards, the family that everyone came to love took their last bow. Twenty-one years later, not only is The Cosby Show still considered ground breaking, its portrayal of the black family is still talked about. Phylicia Rashad  portrayed America’s favorite mom on  “The Cosby Show” as Claire Huxtable. The Huxtables were the  epitome of an upper-middle class black family. Claire was an educated lawyer, married to a doctor and raising a family in Brooklyn, New York.

Even with such a positive portrayal of a black family, it still had its fair share of critics.  Many of  the critics thought the Huxtables weren’t a realistic family, even though, in the section of Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, where The Cosby Show was set in, and surrounding areas like Fort Greene, there were similar black families living the “Huxtable Life” in real-time. God forbid a black family was portrayed positively on television.

In an interview for “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” Oprah asks Rashad about the issue of race and how she had to defend “The Cosby Show” to the media and its. “You all had to answer that question over and over and over — how is it realistic to have a doctor and a lawyer in the same house?” Oprah asked.

“Well, they didn’t grow up in my community,” Rashad says of the show’s critics. “I grew up in Houston, Texas, in [the] third ward and it was very realistic.”

And it wasn’t just realistic in Houston, Rashad says. “It was realistic in Charlotte, North Carolina; in Atlanta; in New York; in Richmond; in Hampton; in Los Angeles — it was realistic in a lot of places,” she tells Oprah in the video below. “I guess it just depends on who you know and what you know.”

But for every family that may have lived like the Huxtables, there were even more that did not.

 Some could say “The Cosby Show” was the antithesis to Good Times from the 70’s.  Not everyone knew someone who hung out in chow lines, but knew they existed.  “The Cosby Show” gave black families that didn’t live like the Huxtables a new perspective on the black experience.  Who knows, maybe back in the ’90s a black kid religiously sat in front of their television every Thursday night wondering if they could have a family like the Huxtables. Now, 21 years later, they come home and take off their scrubs and discuss their day with their attorney counterpart while cooking dinner for their children.

“Oprah’s Next Chapter” returns with new episodes on Sunday, July 28, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.


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