Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Cosby Show WAS NOT the Greatest Black TV Show of All Time


By Julius Kane

Stop playin' 'Good Times' was better than 'The Cosby show' for real; the first three seasons before the father's character was killed off, anyway. You can run around town and act like you're embarrassed of 'Good Times' but I sure as hell ain't. A couple of so called critics even said 'The Cosby Show' was a "real depiction of a Black family." Again, stop playin'. How realistic is it even in WHITE AMERICA for a doctor to be married to a lawyer, have half a dozen kids and they all go to college? What did 'The Cosby Show' teach you? Sure, it made you wish for a better life and smashed a lot cultural stereotypes. But 'The  Cosby Show' wasn't the best Black television show of all time; not by a long shot.  In actuality 'The Cosby Show' was the best Black television show for White folks to watch. It allowed White folks to see a different side of the Black experience and gave Black folks faces, places and images they could finally be proud of.

70 % of  Black Americans then and now can relate to 'Good Times'. I sure as learned more watching the Evans family then I did from the Huxstables. 'The Cosby Show' went well out of its way not to address any social, political or racial issues. Meanwhile almost every episode of 'Good Times' was relevant and spoke to subject matter that directly affected the Black community. But now, in their efforts to please White folks a lot of you are praising 'The Cosby Show' as if anything that happened in their house happened in your house; you wish! Have you forgotten- for the first few seasons 'Good Times'stayed away from  stereotypical fare, but instead had a timely and often blunt message in its script. But almost every episode of  'The Cosby Show' was about an affluent Black couple raising bourgeoisie children and having rich folks problems. Sure, it was funny but you couldn't relate to them.

In the meantime 'Good Times' introduced you to Black Jesus, told you how to watch out for venereal diseases,taught you about high blood pressure,questioned the validity of  school tests, talked about the chasm between blacks going to school with whites and so on. One episode even showed the Black father going to snatch his son up from the clutches of a street gang. But the most important message in 'Good Times' was the family; and the Black father as the head of the household and the Black mother as the neck. James Evans ( John Amos) never gave up on his family and when he was down he always got back up. He not only taught that to his children but to every Black child in America that watched the show. 'The Cosby Show' pretended racism didn't exist but 'Good Times' faced it head on.

Bill Cosby may want to get up on his soap box now that he's filthy rich and talk trash about what ills Black America but for eight long years he kept his mouth shut and took Black America to la-la land. He carefully  catered his show to white folks and secondly to Black folks. Cosby kept his mouth shut and got paid; cool,do you. But you can't take anything away from the prototype and the strong Black cast who became Norman Lear's sacrificial lambs; the black balled and B-listed cast of 'Good Times' who sometimes went months without getting paid. They stood for something other then money. Anyone who says 'The Cosby Show' is the greatest Black show of all time hasn't watched Everybody Hates Chris, Roc, The Bernie Mac Show, or The Boondocks.

The cast of 'Good Times' were harassed, threatened and pressured constantly early on by Norman Lear to play out negative, degrading scripts; which they refused to do. Lear eventually fired John Amos and forced Ester Rolle out. She returned, but the show was never the same. Norman Lear not only wanted the sitcom to have a single mother, but he wanted every black stereotype you can imagine written into the show. And we've all seen the effects of negative Black images on television. After robbing Eric Monte of his ideas, stealing his royalties, black balling him and predicting positive images of a Black family would fail; the show became a big hit!

 'The Cosby Show' continues to be a vehicle used to impress white America; which it does. And by jumping on 'The Cosby Show' bandwagon you're still letting white America decide what's best for you. I liked both shows but in actuality you wouldn't have had 'The Cosby Show' if it wasn't for 'Good Times.' I salute the cast and creator (Eric Monte) of 'Good Times' for standing up for themselves and for all of us; God knows they didn't have to. It's funny, but I can still hear John Amos now.... " Good Times was recorded live before a studio audience." Damn that brings back some memories. They sure as hell don't make Black actors like that anymore!

Writer and Publisher Julius Kane is the author of 'The Fruits of Sarah Bartmaan' and 5 other novels. Visit him at, or


Anonymous said...

And your point is??????

Millions of black Americans did not live in, or was raised in the ghetto!

But, I guess you would not know that!

LFP Media 2010 said...

Is this your opinion? This certainly can't or is fact! There were plenty of Blacks WHO were the Cosby's. NOT every Black Family was poor. This idea of Black Shows, Black Movies, Black Music competing with each other has to stop! We need ALL voice that shows a balance of Black Life. It is a shame that up and coming reporters/blogger/writers are writing articles or blogs based on your opinion and not facts. We need our BLACK WRITERS to be uplifting, report facts, report injustice, show the BIG PICTURE of BLACK CULTURE! Have you actually watched The Cosby Show? There was more education and more support of BLACK CULTURE than any show in Black History, from the Music, the paintings on the wall, Tshirts shouting out HBCU's, the young up and coming Black Actors & Actresses. So please stop with this BS! BOTH show were excellent. GOOD TIMES wanted a better life so that they could be The Cosby's! I LOVED THEM BOTH AND WOULD NEVER CHOOSE ONE OR THE OTHER! Stop trying to divide Black people! Living ghetto, poor, is not what we as Black People should strive to be. IF you are a true fan of GOOD TIMES, you would know not even the EVANS FAMILY wanted to stay in the HOOD!

Anonymous said...

TOTALLY agree with "Anonymous" above (even though I'm anonymous too, LOL). I grew up in a household more like the Cosbys than the Evans. I get tired of the assumption that every black family grew up poor and struggling. Not only is it important for whites to understand that there are affluent blacks, hell, it was important for BLACKS to see this too. Sometimes blog posts like this one make me think some black folks STILL don't know this. The Cosby Show was--and still is--groundbreaking, because it was the first that depicted a professional, affluent black family.

We are a diverse, multifaceted people. Why does one depiction have to be held up as being more "real" than another?

Anonymous said...

I agree that my personal experience is much closer the the Evans family experience (and yes, James Evans Sr), has to be included) than the Huxtables, but I can't condone the stereotyping of what a black family is.

As crazy as it sounds, I liked Urkel & Family Matters & Roc always had a good message as well. There are plenty of good black TV images.

Anonymous said...

Is this the Tyler Perry vs Spike Lee of television programs conversation? Give it a rest black folks, we are not monolithic. We are diverse in and of ourselves and that's what makes us who we are.

Sometimes yall just make my but hurt with some of the stuff you come up with. Love both of the shows AND, I know many a doctors married to doctors, doctors married to lawyers, etc. YES, IT DOES happen.

Sometimes silence is golden. Wasteful conversation!

Karen, TheSharperWon

rell said...

I have to say....this is the first time I ever read an article that was very informative and enlightening. And all comments to the article was excellent. Good times is a show that took on issues that issues that some people ignored. The Cosby Show was something every black family could aspire to become.

super said...

"What did 'The Cosby Show' teach you? Sure, it made you wish for a better life and smashed a lot cultural stereotypes"

Then because it smashed a lot of cultural stereotypes how then was it not better than Good Times? You make no sense, Mr. Kane.

"Stop playin' 'Good Times' was better than 'The Cosby show' for real; the first three seasons. before the father's character was killed off, anyway."

And yet adding to the stereotype that black fathers (all of them) are not in the home either because they refuse to take care of their family, or were gunned down because of violence, or are in prison, when there are millions of successful African American families with both the father and mother in the house (in the United Stas of America).

super said...

The stereotype towards black women is that they are promiscuous, loud, and have bad attitudes, while black men are seen as drug dealers, angry, and criminals. Now look at all of the images they have of the black male and black female on television today. Mostly the black male is non-existant, especially in soap operas. The media loves to show such things, but never likes to show the positives that exist among black people, or the good things that black folks do, such as Lebron James creating an organization for single mothers. Instead they talk alot about how much he is "hated" simply because he went to miami, which was his right as an NBA player.

Such stereotypes have been around for a long time. TV shows like the cosby show counteract that. Funny thing is the CS came out in 1984, 27 years ago, yet it is the only positive and constructive show that depicts African Americans in a positive light. This is not fake because you do have African American Families in real life that have a cosby show like family. We just don't see it because the media prefers the negative stereotypes.

Someone said that Black Folks are diverse within our their culture, and this is true. Then how come the big screen, the small screen, and the secular music industry only show one side of our diversity? Stop supporting this garbage.

Anonymous said...

There are too many grammatical errors in your nonsensical post to take anything you say seriously.

Anonymous said...

Those two shows were good to those who relate to them and some relate to both. There are those who relate to "Good Times" but take issue with the reality and some bafoonery," such as the apartment door always being open for anyone to come in. Projects in Chicago were just not that way. There is clearly room for both types of shows but we've always had more of the "Good Times" type of shows from Amos & Andy to Tyler Perry. The problem is a disproportional amount of the "Good Times" types rather than the Cosby type. Why because they say those programs don't sell. When polls are taken what do you think the outcome is? Of course that is a whole new conversation. If it is true, what does that say?

GK said...

Mr. Kane,
Why is that you believe that Black America MUST choose between the Cosby's and the Evans families?
One thing you allude is how the cast has to resist the stereotypes that Norman Lear wanted to put, in. On the other hand, Cosby who Exec produced his show and and hired Dr. Alvin Poussaint to ensure timeless family ideals void of stereotyping. Let's celebrate BOTH shows for what they are, Good Times a gritty depiction of life in the projects,and the struggle to go on, and the Cosby family showing that our success is no fluke. Each show was the needed at the times they were produced, and now a new generation gets to enjoy them. Let's stop with the "victim think" that if ain't hood it ain't real.
I certainly know plenty of Cosby's and a whole lot of Evans' too.
By the way add "A Different World" to the list one of my all
time favorites as well still the only prime time show on a major network to depict life at an HBCU.
George Kilpatrick

R0516 said...


I agree with you. I have always struggeled with the "black experience" being what was depicted on Good Times. I didn't live either that lifestyle or the cosby's. I grew up somewhere in the middle. But, the values on both were the same. Also, you are right on with "a different world". I work at a HBCU and am always dissapointed with the negative opinions people have about our schools. A different world shed a positive light on the reality that is our school nourish our students. BTW, the person who mentioned Family matters was correct as well. That was a real middle class family. Us Black folk really do live have professional jobs, sometimes as teachers, policeman, HR profressionals, etc. We are all rich, but please stop saying we are all dirt poor. Our ancestors worked to hard for some us to make that claim.

Anonymous said...

What an ill-informed post to say the least. News flash: not all black folk grew up in the projects! Second news flash: Not all black folk were slaves! Some owned slaves!

Reducing the argument to a white vs. black dichotomy where the Huxtable's and Evans' cannot coexist dismantles the immense effect of both. Each show, from their own perspective, offers a significant contribution to American culture. Not everyone who LOOKS like you has the same experience, and not everyone who LOOKS foreign to you has had a completely different experience. Does race shape experience? In this country, hell yes it does. But it isn't an automatic qualifier for rich/poor, educated/uneducated.

What do you think scared white folk more? A black mother and father with advanced degrees who OWNED property and sent their kids off to do the same? Or a black mother and father who, though strong and courageous, RENTED from a white-owned entity and didn't have much chance to provide better for their kids? My guess is the former circumstance makes Bill O'Reilly urinate on himself at night.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kane's article speaks of the historical context of both, yet you absolutely cannot have one without the other. I personally knew African-American professionals married to each other who did send their children to college - it shouldn't be to the detriment of our community to hold one vs. the other when both communities exist within the greater umbrella of the Black Experience. Say what you will about Norman Lear, but the modern sit-com format pre-Cosby depicting Black issues en masse would not exist without his huge input. It took The Cosby Show to crystalize our experience and to further flesh out the model to which "must-see" TV was coined. You are right saying the first 3 seasons of Good Times were absolutely relevant to the depiction of the urban Black Family WITH a father figure, but you absolutely must say The Cosby Show was just as ground-breaking as Good Times. Had Mr. Monte had whatever support system to uphold him like Dr. Cosby had (& still has) the full arch of the show from beginning to end may have been different.

blackgurlinc said...

You are an intellect and have the ability to think critically, thats why the folks are commenting so ignorantly. For some reason the African Americans who are the most igmorant have the most to say!! Find a community that can fully appreciate your intellect. #smartiepants

Anonymous said...

Fact...More Black people live like the 'The Evans' as opposed to living like the 'The Huxtables'...therefore,all you people that take offense to this writer's opinion should are fortunate and an exception !!!

brainsmasher said...

It is possible to have enjoyed both shows; and I did.

If I was forced to point out something that I thought was wrong I would say that Good Times glorified being poor and put a stamp of approval on having a lot of kids that you could not afford to take care of.

As we all know, black people see stuff on tv and think that if it is on tv then that must be how you are supposed to do it.

I can think of many black shows that were better than Good times and the Cosby Show. Bill Cosby, himself had 3 other shows prior to the Cosby Show.

brainsmasher said...

We have to stop proclaiming that black people who talk proper english and who act like they have some sense are acting white.

The purpose for going to school is to learn--not to hang out with your homies or chase girls or boys.

fred_53_99 said...

Good times was good only as long as John Amos was on it.JJ's job was to delute anything too powerful from being said.As for the Cosby show. Racism did exist.Cosby fought NBC about the Anti Aparthid sign on Theo's door. Clair was informed on one show that her place on a talk show was to give the "black experice" only.Heck outside of Micheal the Evans family was not that afrocentric,the Huxtables were.Yet because they were not "poor' they were not considered real.

Sharon said...

Why must we always be placed in a position of needing to choose one life style over another when having these discussions regards which truly the real black experience? We are being asked to choose one comedy show over another when both shows are quite similar.

With "Good Times" there was a married, uneducated Black Father, his Black Wife and their 3 Children living and loving each other in the same household. And, though the Evanses had more than their share of financial struggles, there was never a question that they loved each other. On "The Cosby Show", again, there was a married Black Father, his Black wife and this time, 5 children. Because Cliff and Claire were educated Professionals, their struggles were not financial. So, "Good Times" and "The Cosby Show" were similar but different portrayals of two aspects of African-American family life. And, how real either of these shows were to the viewers was dependent upon where the viewers themselves had come from.

Also, who views a comedy show to learn? Traditionally, comedy shows are not the vehicle to erudition. When I want to learn something, I read a book.

Anonymous said...

yes of course it wasn't be cause most black people can only relate to living in the ghetto,hardship and never getting anywhere in life like the failure family good times was.