Back when I was a freshman in college, there was a new sitcom on the air -- The Cosby Show. Every Thursday night, a group of friends and I would gather in a dorm room and watch the Thursday night line-up, beginning with Cliff and Clair Huxtable and their brood. I loved the Cosby show: in many ways, they reminded me of my family. Cliff and Clair's good-grades-or-else attitude reminded me of my parents. Cliff's dad looks just like my grandfather. I related to how uncool-yet-kinda-cool the kids thought their parents were. And I desperately wanted to be like Denise, the free-spirited second Huxtable daughter.
Dude, it was a sad day for me when The Cosby Show went off the air.
We don't have cable or satellite television in our home -- we get most of our screen entertainment from movies or shows on Netflix. And while I closely monitor the shows my daughter watches, I have become more and more disenchanted by what's available to her. It seems to me that in most sitcom plots (especially those created by networks that are ostensibly for kids), parents are often incredibly passive: they're sort of bumbling and clueless, and kids run roughshod over them. In addition, it seems like for so many of the kids in these shows, being snarky or mean-spirited is a badge of cool. It was starting to distress me.
(Yes, I realize that I sound like an old curmudgeon here. I assure you that I'm not. I'm merely a 40-something-year-old curmudgeon.)
Anyway, I decided to take a risk and purchase the first two seasons of The Cosby Show. I say it was a risk, because any time I bring home something "that I used to enjoy when I was a kid," it's met with Alex's instant skepticism. But you know, Bill Cosby is funny, the kids are cool, so I figured there might be a chance that Alex would be into it.
Man, was I right. Alex has been marathoning through Seasons 1 and 2, and pleads with me to let her stay up later just so she can watch "one more episode." I've already purchased Seasons 3 and 4 so that they're here at the ready for when we finish Season 2 (for some reason, Seasons 5 and 6 are hard to get and astronomically-priced, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do when the time comes to watch those). Alex thinks the Huxtable kids are "swag" (to use her word). She thinks I rant just like Clair. She thinks Marcus teases me just like Cliff teases his wife.
In other words, despite the fact that the setting of the show is 30 years ago (!), the Huxtables remind my daughter of her family.
I'm not going to lie: Marcus and I have been enjoying watching it as well. What I think is really interesting is how much Marcus and I relate to Cliff and Clair now -- after all, we're now their ages, and even though a lot has changed in the 30 years since it first aired, so much about parenting still resonates. In fact, it's actually comforting: these days, when everything I read suggests the "right way" to parent (and intimates that perhaps I'm doing it wrong), it's comforting to know I might not be screwing up as badly I thought (after all, Cliff and Clair are still often ranked as one of the top dads and moms of television history). The Cosby Show makes kids doing senseless things somehow feel like simply a natural part of growing up -- not a failure of parenting. It makes losing your temper with your kids totally okay -- as long as showing love for your kids is the norm. And the best part is that throughout the series, wry is funny, but meanness isn't -- and ultimately, kindness always wins.
So, yeah ... if anyone knows where I can get Seasons 5 and 6 for a reasonable price, I'd really appreciate it.
Song: Kiss me (The Cosby Show theme song) as performed by Bobby McFerrin