The Death of the Huxtables – Part 1
Am I having a flashback to the 1980s ~ or is it a nightmare? I could have sworn The Cosby Show went off the air in 1992, but someone must have ordered up an encore because I’m seeing Rudy and Bill all up in the news and on every news stream.
I loved the The Cosby Show and so did everyone I knew. Thursday nights were like going to church. It was a form of spirituality for most of the African Americans I knew and that’s not an overstatement either. Even when I went to college, all of the black students would go to the dinning hall at the right time to gather around the TV for the latest episodes of The Cosby Show, In Living Color, and A Different World. It really was like church.
It’s sad to think about the subpar shows like Real Housewives of Atlanta and Love & Hip Hop as the staples of black family entertainment. Just when you think you can’t fall any further we find out all things are possible.
But here’s the real deal for me. I always thought I should be attracted to a woman like Clair Huxtable, but the truth was, I never found her that attractive. It’s not that she wasn’t a physically beautiful woman because she was and still is from the pictures I’ve seen lately. It was her attitude, demeanor, and stiffness that turned me off to her. I was like, “Do I want to deal with a woman like that every day for the rest of my life?” The answer was always the same, “Fuck no.” Even with the lawyer’s salary she was making I’d have to take a pass. It was as if she walked around the house expecting the men to say something childish or dumb and basically treated everyone like her children. No thanks.
If you could have a family like the Huxtables, it meant you did everything right. They represented the socioeconomic mountaintop for black families in America, at that time. They still do, actually, but that’s changing. Why? It wasn’t realistic. What was being represented as a happy, monogamous, well-educated black family contradicted who we are as human beings and as descendants of African people. Why do I say that? Let’s start with the cast.
Even back then it was well known that the real Bill Cosby had infidelity issues in his real marriage to his beautiful wife Camille. He’s the lead character for crying out loud. It’s like Dr. Phil giving relationship advice when everyone knows his certification as a psychologist was pulled because he had sexual relations with patients. I’m not judging because to me that’s more of a result of warped societal views on sex and relationships as opposed to Bill or Phil being dysfunctional, but I said earlier that the Cosby Show was church for black people and I was 100% dead serious about that, so, yes, it does matter.
Phylicia Rashad at that time had been married and divorced twice and eventually married a third time and divorced. I remember feeling really good when Ahmad proposed to her on live television and equally hurt when I found they were getting divorced. It’s hard to explain why; I just like them as a couple and partly because of her role on The Cosby Show.
Lisa Bonet eventually got married, but had eloped (married and had a child) with Lenny Kravitz and the country watched Lenny’s rise to fame by channeling his pain of the breakup through music. Malcolm Jamal Warner never married. Tempestt Bledsoe never married, but has a long-standing partnership. Raven Simone never married and later came out as lesbian – I don’t remember seeing that represented on the show anywhere.
I’m not judging anyone’s lifestyle or personal choices, but where are the Huxtables? My question is, who’s actually doing this shit represented on the show? I don’t mean kinda doing it, but actually doing it with no cheating, happy marriage, two bread winners, and no questionable (borderline criminal) behavior? I’ll tell you who’s not doing it was the actors on the show. Why can’t at least one of the primary actors represent what we were sold as “the way”? That’s a rhetorical question, but let me clarify the answer – What was represented as the norm is not natural and as such is extremely difficult to pull off. It’s really close to impossible.
We were sold a bill of goods. We’re Americans, so naturally we’re going to emulate what was put in front of us. How many relationships were ruined as a result of people trying to be the Huxtables only to realize a whole hell of a lot was left out of that show? How many people learned that marriage and relationships look more like the lives of the actors? Probably more than we’ll ever know.
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