OK, first let's deal with the elephant in the room: Bill Cosby (now 83 years old) is guilty of aggravated indecent assault and is currently incarcerated at a correctional facility in Pennsylvania (September 2021 is the earliest he may be released). In addition, dozens and dozens of women have accused Cosby of any of various forms of sex-related assaults (ranging from misconduct to rape), though in nearly all cases Cosby has not been tried or found guilty because the statute of limitations had passed since the date of the alleged assaults. This is to say, Cosby -- at least according to his alleged actions of the past and his current criminal record -- is not a good human being. I point this out because it will inevitably color our latter-day perceptions of his legacy as an entertainer, which is entirely understandable. For example, I remember posing the question on social media a couple of years ago as to whether my friends could still watch 'The Cosby Show' in light of the star's circumstances, and I was told no by some. One female black friend simply said, "Nope! He ruined it." I do understand this response. So, I'm interested in how people feel about that. I'm also interested if you can put that aside and just focus on the program itself. 'The Cosby Show' (on NBC) aired for eight seasons, from September 1984 to April 1992. It was an enormous and overwhelming success. Here was its Nielsen ratings' finish for each of its eight seasons, in the USA: 1984-85 - 3 1985-86 - 1 1986-87 - 1 1987-88 - 1 1988-89 - 1 1989-90 - 1 (tied with Roseanne) 1990-91 - 5 1991-92 - 18 'The Cosby Show' is one of only three programs in US history that were ranked #1 for five consecutive seasons (the others are 'All In The Family' and... 'American Idol'). Of course, this is much more remarkable in that it was a series about a black family -- there had been several 'black' prime-time series before, but never one that was so dominated by its star, that was so successful, or that presented such a positive family-image of black America. The program essentially revived the somewhat dormant family-sitcom as a popular genre in American television (sweeping 'Family Ties' up with it into the top of the ratings), pushed NBC to the top of the network pile, and led to a long-lasting series of TV-programs based on comedians personal lives and unique comedy-material (Roseanne, Seinfeld, etc.). About 10 years ago when I had some down-time, I went back and watched the entire run of the series (though I admit, I skipped a few rather boring passages of some weaker episodes, esp. towards the end). If memory serves, I found that the series can be divided into two-season quarters in terms of quality, as follows: 1984-85 & 1985-86 These two seasons are incredibly stellar (by US sitcom standards, mind)! I think it took a few weeks of episodes for the series to "find itself", but very quickly it did, and a month or two into its first season this was easily the best fictional series in the USA. It strikes the perfect balance of wonderful, funny, and classy scripts with Cosby's off-the-wall, sometimes spontaneous humor. The core Huxtable-family was intact during these two seasons, and of course Phylicia Rashad's performance as Clair was outstanding. (The mid-season invention of an oldest daughter, Sandra, played by Sabrina Le Beauf, stretched credibility somewhat as the actress was only 10 years younger than Phylicia Rashad!) 1986-87 & 1987-88 Similarly, these two seasons are largely outstanding and the show remained at the top of the heap in the ratings. The son, Theo, is growing up in this period, and in the spring of 1988 he graduates high school (despite his challenge of dyslexia). These two seasons are enormously good by the standards of 1980s' sitcoms, but I did find them somewhat less vital and original than the first two. Basically, these first four seasons of 'The Cosby Show' represent what I think (not being a sitcom expert) is probably the high-point of mainstream situation comedy, American-style. Besides the excellent cast, who obviously had great chemistry together, what I love about the story-lines in these four seasons is that the plots are extremely simple and non-formulaic. It's mainly just everyday 'episodes' in family life, but portrayed in such a funny and charming way that it becomes extremely memorable. (One word of warning: The only total snoozer episodes from these first four seasons are the ones where Denise and/or the Huxtable family goes to college. There is one where Cliff -- a doctor in Brooklyn -- inexplicably gives a graduation speech at his daughter's college, far from New York City. It makes no sense, and the entire episode is tedious.) 1988-89 & 1989-90 Dip in quality, and this is where we get cast members coming and going. It's still really, really good compared to the competition, but the consistent quality is lacking as maybe every third episode is a bit dull. But when it's good, it's still really good. 1990-91 & 1991-92 Shark-jumping occurs somewhere in here. 1990-91 is a major dip, though the show is still mainly enjoyable. The last season is a bit disastrous, though, with new, younger cast members joining, which is always the death-knell of a sitcom in decline. Also, I recall Cosby himself sleep-walking through these last two seasons -- it's as if he decided he didn't want to put too much effort into acting anymore, so his lessened scenes are just to be a bumbling fool for whatever kid he appears on-screen with. The whole extended family was together for the last episodes (Theo's college graduation), which was nice. And thus it ended. There is probably some truth to the accusation that 'The Cosby Show' presented a false "post-racial" image of US culture in the 1980s. But then again, this reflected pop culture of the time with entertainers like Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston firmly lodged in the (pre-hip hop) mainstream. In addition, there was, for example, a very poignant scene ending an episode that aired on the first (?) official Martin Luther King day, and the show (and its spin-off, 'A Different World') showed countless "positive" images of black professionals, black colleges, and black culture (jazz, blues, art, etc.). So, I just wanted to have a thread discussing all things about 'The Cosby Show'. Enter anywhere you like. ************* NOTE: In searching for a similar thread on this forum, I found an old post I'd made about good TV episodes of any program, which was about a season 2 Cosby episode I really like. I'll paste it in here: One that really stands out to me is a December 1985 episode of The Cosby Show called "Denise's Friend". I saw the episode (I think) when I was a kid, but I encountered it many years later in adulthood (I actually showed it to a class I taught years ago, for reason I won't go into). The plot is extremely simple: Daughter Denise tells Cliff, her doctor-father, that her high-school female friend has a personal problem and wants to talk to him without her own parents knowing. Cliff agrees, but then instructs the friend that she needs to tell her parents about it, as the issue relates to her sexual activity with her boyfriend (which, of course, her parents don't know about). We learn later that the girl had a basic infection that Dr. Huxtable easily dealt with. Cliff and his wife (Claire), concerned that their own kids might be keeping things from them, decide to hold a family meeting to tell their kids to be open with them and feel safe in trusting them with any personal problems they might have. This is a really funny scene, as the parents are deadly serious and want the kids to be the same, but the Huxtable kids are united in wanting the meeting to be over with as fast as possible. There are a lot of things I love about this episode, and it's done in a very classy and tasteful way, but it's also a lot of fun.