I wonder if the Huxtables are not overtly 'black' due to the storm that would rage over perpetuating cultural stereotypes. (The same can be said of many racial and minority characters throughout the mass media.) The same can be said for not portraying any of the issues plaguing black families. An upper middle class family in New York of the type represented by the characters on the Cosby Show faces very different issues than the same family would in Birmingham, Alabama. Both of these hypothetical families are different from the issues that a poor black family in Birmingham or East LA would face. There is not a homogenous black culture or experience in America.

I used to think about that as well, when I watched the show during its original run. I don't watch the reruns.

(And I guess I should say at this point that I'm not black.)

But I saw the show mainly as a positive for black people because it went against type. It showed a black doctor, it showed black kids going to college and excelling, it showed black people in a nice house in a nuclear family.

Another thing it showed was the variety of different "looks" that qualify as African-American. The oldest daughter, as I recall, is a person who easily could have "passed" for white. I also remember being surprised at hearing what sounded like a "white Southern accent" from one of the black female students at the college where another Huxtable daughter went to school.

The show told me that African-Americans come in many different hues and have many different voices.

On the other hand, I understand the criticism that perhaps by taking a daughter who "looked white" they thought they were making the show more palatable to a white audience.

Watching the show also reminded me of what was once said of families in 1950s sitcoms. Someone did a study that showed that if you priced the homes, furniture and other possessions of families in such shows as "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Leave it to Beaver," you'd find that the families were living major upper middle class lives.
I think the Huxtables qualfied for that distinction as well.
To live the way they did, with five (?) kids, college tuition and a big house, they had to have been pulling in $150,000 a year, based on the cost of living at that time.

I would like to cite an example (albeit a rare one) of good writing creating "real" black people. Homicide: Life on the Street and Liberty Heights, both Barry Levinson productions rejected stereotypes. Homicide had a truly integrated cast, where the casting didn't seem forced by PC pressure. Gee, the squad commander was part black, part Italian, a topic which was constantly brought up. Meldrick, one of the detectives, felt his ethnicity strongly and often had to choose between, the common experience of being a police officer with his other detectives and the common experience of being black and protecting the people he had to arrest. But the best part of the show, and of Liberty Heights is that black characters weren't painted into a box. They were as complex and often as prejudiced as their white counterparts. They weren't just there to teach white America how to behave.

And that's just the black characters, I could go on with other ethnicities they treated uniquely, and I think fairly.

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