Are We Allowed to Still Watch The Cosby Show?
By now if you have no idea what is going on with Bill Cosby AKA Dr. Cliff Huxtable, you have been living under a rock. Basically, legendary actor, comedian, producer and author, Bill Cosby has been essentially sexually abusing/raping women since the 1960s. Because of this reruns of mostly all of Bill Cosby's television shows, including The Cosby Show, have been discontinued from syndication in various countries.
It is easy to see why this has occurred. Nobody wants to funnel money into Bill Cosby who has transformed from a public father figure to a villainous monster. Every time an episode airs a little bit of money would go into his pocket. If a network is to broadcast it or any other shows such as Kids Say the Darnedest Things or Fat Albert, they would be implying support of the man Bill Cosby, which no one wants to be associated with in this day and age.
But is this a good or bad thing? Television scholars and writers have cited the Cosby Show as being one of the best sitcoms ever produced. Besides being groundbreaking at it's time it was just great television. The Writers Guild of America even listed it as the 29th greatest American television series (drama, comedy, or otherwise) ever written.
I remember when I was in middle school and I would watch reruns of The Cosby Show on Nick at Night and TV Land. I loved watching that show and I probably watched every single episode. I would watch these at night alongside reruns of Diff'rent Strokes, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, The Facts of Life, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I like to think that all of these including, The Cosby Show, we formative in my learning about television and writing comedy.
This post is not to support Bill Cosby, because I don't. The intention is to separate works from the people that create them. Is there something morally corrupt about watching Woody Allen (accused of child sexual abuse) or Roman Polanski (unlawful sex with a minor), OJ Simpson (alleged murder/kidnapping) or Jeffrey Jones (child pornography) films/Televison? While they are not exactly in the same vain of Cosby-esque villainy, they are still looked upon as bad people in some light. I would want for my kids to one day see some great TV including The Cosby Show which is undeniably a great television show the same way I will one day sit them down and show them Annie Hall, Chinatown, The Naked Gun, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Aside from The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby's stand up work is among some of the best with him winning the grammy award for Best Comedy Album six years in a row. To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With especially is fantastic. If my kids one day want to explore the older comedy albums am I being bad if I buy them a Cosby album? Am I supporting a monster or am I supporting great '60s comedy. While I haven't listened to all of his albums, I would like to, but I also don't want to see odd for buying a CD at a Barnes and Noble or having it on my iTunes receipt.
Is there a way to separate a man and his actions for the work he has created? I guess only our future perceptions will be able to decide this. It appears after death people are more laxed with examining the works of horrible men, for example when people look at the writings of Adolf Hitler. Maybe it is the fact that Bill Cosby is still alive that his work is associated and vilified.
All I do know is that it appears we will not see Theo, Rudy, or the rest of the Cosby clan on TV unless we watch Malcolm Jamel Warner on American Crime Story or Raven-Symoné on The View.