A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Cosby Show is a classic family-friendly show that centers on an African-American family whose parents are educated professionals. Their parenting methods are gentle and trusting, and the kids respond with respect and a clear realization of what's expected of them. Nearly all of the comedy in the show relates to the family and childrearing. Very little of the subject matter will concern parents, which makes it an excellent choice for families.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
The Huxtables live in Brooklyn, New York, and face challenges typical of most American families. Cliff (Bill Cosby), an obstetrician/gynecologist, and Clair (Phylicia Rashad), a lawyer, are the parents everyone longs for -- patient, understanding, and never lacking the humor essential in raising five kids. They rarely argue with each other or their kids, relying instead on communication to work through issues. The Huxtable kids -- Denise (Lisa Bonet), Theo (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe), Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam), and rarely seen eldest daughter Sondra (Sabrina Le Beauf) -- have unique personalities, but their relationships are rarely marred by typical sibling bickering. Each is a high achiever (although their areas of interest vary widely) whose thoughtful behavior and emphasis on education are reflections of their parents'.
Is it any good?
When it premiered in 1984, THE COSBY SHOW broke down racial barriers in TV by portraying an African-American family comfortably assimilated in upper-middle-class white America. Now showing in syndication (and on DVD), it continues to educate and entertain its audience. The show steers clear of any topics that might raise eyebrows, focusing mainly on the daily childrearing issues of a large family. With so many teens and preteens in Huxtable house, many of the issues they face relate to boy/girl relations, and it's refreshing to see a household in which kids willingly bring their worries and frustrations to their parents' attention.
Much of the subject matter, including Theo's battles to overcome dyslexia, is based on Cosby's own experiences as a father, and lessons reiterate the themes of self-respect and appreciation of others and emphasize healthy romantic relationships. The Cosby Show also offers the audience subtly placed tidbits of African-American history, music appreciation, and environmental awareness. Cliff's parents reminisce about marching with Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cliff and Clair often share their love of jazz and the blues with their kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the dynamics within the Huxtable home. How do the family members relate to each other? How realistic does their life seem? What types of challenges do they face that seem like your own? Are there any that you can't relate to?
Families can also discuss the emphasis the Huxtables put on education. How can education change and improve a person's life?
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love comedy
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.