Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
By Joyce Slaton,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Old-school cartoon has strong positive messages.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show isn't meant to offer academic lessons, but there are plenty of positive social lessons to be had about tolerance, friendship, cooperation, etc.
Shows always revolve around some type of positive lesson, i.e. stealing is wrong, or even if someone looks different, you may have things in common. Bill Cosby appears in live-action segments to underline each episode's theme.
Positive Role Models
The Cosby kids often admonish each other to do the right thing. As the main character, Fat Albert is shown to be the group's moral compass, with a soft heart and a deep respect for his friends, the neighborhood in which he lives, and the people in it. There are a variety of body types, facial features among the African American animated cast.
Violence & Scariness
Some themes may be too scary for very young kids: Though the show often took on themes of interest to children (stage fright, first crushes), it sometimes veered into more serious matters, such as child abuse and gun violence. Any violence, save for campy cartoon fights, is offscreen.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Characters may sometimes express feelings for one another: "She's pretty," etc. Dating may be briefly mentioned.
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Characters often put each other down jokingly: "You're like school in summertime: No class." The insults are humorous and frequent; this is a show in which characters take pleasure in ranking each other out, but not violently or unkindly. Kids might need help understanding why Albert's name begins with the word "Fat."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
At least one episode specifically deals with drug abuse, showing how it can damage individuals, their friends, and their communities.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the classic 1970s-80s cartoon Fat Albert has its heart in the right place. The show's setting, a poor Philadelphia neighborhood, and some of the show's themes, such as child abuse, racism, and kidnapping, may give some parents pause. But the utter uniqueness of the show's characters, the still-fresh humor, funky music, and the strong positive messages contained in each show make this one a natural to watch with kids. Expect some good-natured ribbing among friends.
Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
Good life lessons.
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Funny, wholesome entertainment
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What's the Story?
FAT ALBERT AND THE COSBY KIDS was a long-running Saturday morning cartoon in the '70s and '80s, based on comedian Bill Cosby's remembrances of growing up in a tough North Philadelphia neighborhood. Cosby voices many of the characters, including Fat Albert, a gentle giant who hangs around with his friends, having adventures at school and at the junkyard. Fat Albert and his gang of lovable misfits don't have much money, but they sure have fun, and they always get together at the end to play a song on their cobbled-together junkyard instruments.
Is It Any Good?
Despite the near-constant putdowns lobbied amongst group members, the show can be creditably described as sweet and gentle. Most of Fat Albert's adventures are ones small kids will relate to, such as being nervous to speak up in class, and his friends, teachers, and family members are unfailingly supportive and kindly.
Kids will also love the old-school animation, so much more urban and gritty than the clean-and-bouncy computer cartoons of today. Many of Fat Albert's friends are downright weird-looking, and that, plus the city neighborhood that the kids live in, will likely fascinate children just because it's so different than what is usually in modern cartoons.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about where Fat Albert and the Cosby kids hang out and live. Do the members of the group have a lot of money? How can you tell? What kinds of things do they do together that don't cost money? Is there anything that you like to do with your friends that costs nothing?
The Cosby kids make jokes at each other's expense and call each other names a lot. Why do you think they do this? Does it hurt your feelings when someone calls you a name? Does it matter who's doing the name-calling, and what their intentions are?
Fat Albert's friends always help him figure out the right thing to do. Do you have a friend who helps you find the right answers? How could you help a friend who didn't know what choice to make?
- Premiere date: September 9, 1972
- Cast: Bill Cosby
- Networks: CBS, Syndicated
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures
- TV rating: NR
- Last updated: February 25, 2022
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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