NBC’s “The Cosby Show” not only saved the sitcom genre, it helped revolutionize how African-Americans were portrayed on TV.
Cosby was a popular and original comedian (he was the rival of Newhart, Winters and Carlin in his day) with a decent TV background, including a starring role in the hip espionage series “I Spy,” but “The Cosby Show” propelled him to the upper echelons of stardom.
“Cosby” came along at the right time, in 1984, reminding everyone that done right, viewers would still flock to a half-hour laffer. The series was also the first megahit in syndication, more or less creating the modern off-network marketplace as we know it. But most important, “Cosby” repped the first primetime portrayal of an upper-middle-class black family.
Carefully crafted by Cosby and producers Carsey-Werner, it didn’t dwell on gags or stereotypes, choosing to find its humor in everyday family life.