More About The Cosby Show

Two Takes.

Take number one:

During my time as writer/producer, The Cosby Show was the number one rated program for five consecutive years, a feat accomplished only twice in the history of television.  Its impact on American culture was immeasurable.   The New York Times, in an article examining the phenomenon of a black man, Barack Obama, rising to the Presidency of the United States, concluded, “The Cosby Show had succeeded in changing racial attitudes enough to make an Obama candidacy possible.”  In South Africa, during the height of repression, The Cosby Show was the most popular television program among white viewers.  Many historians believe that the show’s universal human appeal so changed global perceptions of the black family, that it had a mitigating impact on the eventual end of apartheid.

Take number two:

For five years during its heyday, I was a member of the writing team that cranked out scripts for actors to read and perform, 126 first drafts, followed by rewrite after rewrite, episode after episode, day after day, week after week, year after year.  Here’s the best analogy I can think of to describe my place on the Cosby Show.  Anyone that’s watched a movie about luxury cruise ships during the age of elegance can surely visualize my position.  At the opening of the movie there are extravagant bon voyage sendoffs, handsome passengers strolling up gangplanks, escorted by perfectly-uniformed deck officers, confetti, streamers, fellow passengers already on board waving gleefully to throngs of visitors crowded below on the pier, magnificent staterooms, valets unpacking steamer trunks, violinists serenading sunbathers basking on chaise lounges covered by tartan blankets, the captain, resplendent, dignified, totally in command with both grizzled sailors or pampered guests, moving through grandly appointed dining rooms, gala ballrooms, tuxedo-clad orchestras, sweeping down stunning staircases to the main deck, then through glistening kitchens with chefs immaculately dressed in white, descending further to the gargantuan, overwhelming engine room, ending finally in the bowels of the ship piled high with mountains of coal, and a team of sweaty, unrecognizable stokers shoveling that coal into roaring, fiery furnaces, shovel after shovel, after shovel, endlessly feeding ravenous steam engines, fully aware that without these lowly stokers this mighty, glorious cruise ship would stop dead in the middle of the ocean.  Two decades later, my overwhelming recollection of  The Cosby Show is one of sheer exhaustion.  Gasp.  Just writing this paragraph has so tired me, I think I’ll crawl upstairs, lie down, and take a nap.