Though time seems to stand still in reruns, it's been 30 years since the premiere of America’s favorite family sitcom, "The Cosby Show,” which premiered Sept. 20, 1984 on NBC.
The show was historic in network television for featuring a successful African American family and dealing with real-life situations in Brooklyn, New York. Much has been said about the star and creator of the series, Bill Cosby. But for our generation, most of us identified more with the Huxtable kids —Sandra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy.
Many of the stories that took places on the show were real-life issues. Here are five valuable life lessons learned from the Cosby kids:
In pilot episode of the “Cosby Show,” we watched father and son, Cliff and Theo, have a discussion about how receiving bad grades will affect your future. Theo then laid out his plans to grow-up and live life as a “regular” person. Cliff explains to his son by using Monopoly money that he won’t survive financially as an adult if he continues to follow that path. Theo then makes a touching speech about how he wants his parents to love him regardless of how well he does in life, to which Cliff answers, “That was the dumbest thing that I’ve ever heard in my life”.
In the episode, Theo stress the importance of education and we learn that education (even though it may not come easy) is the key to success.
Rudy teaches us to demand respect in a relationship:
In several episodes in the the youngest daughter Rudy engages in a battle of the wits with her best friend Kenny (aka “Bud”). Though them we learn about the dynamic of men and women — at least from the perspective of little kids. Rudy became the voice for young feminist as she argues with Kenny about everything from relationships to the roles men and women play in society. Whenever Kenny says something that was remotely chauvinistic, Rudy would immediately correct him.
In the “Cosby Show” episodes where Rud was the protagonist, the topics tend to focus on feminism. We watch her become the only girl on a football field to fight for equality among her male peers.
In an episode of the 6th season Vanessa faces problems that teens face while in high school—teen drinking. Vanessa gets pressured by her friends to drink, and caves in to partake in an alphabet drinking game. Followed a night of drinking, Vanessa gets a hangover and her parents decide to teach her a lesson by making her play the drinking game at home. They allow youngest daughter Rudy to play too. As they play Rudy fails to come up with a response in the game fast enough and her parents forced her to take a shot. Vanessa eventually figures out that there wasn’t any alcohol involved and that her parents were playing a practical joke.
Many of Vanessa’s episode dealt with fitting-in with the crowd. She struggled with her identity and has to deal with her socioeconomic status because she gets called "rich" by the other kids in school. Vanessa eventually became comfortable with herself and we learn to accept ourselves as Vanessa grew.
In the first episode of season six, Denise surprises Cliff and Clair by returning home a week early from a trip to Africa. She shocks her parents with news that she is now married to her a new husband, naval officer Martin Kendall. She is also now a stepmother to his 3-year-old daughter, Olivia.
Denise was the blacksheep of the family. Although she had a good heart many of her situations focused on rebellion and going against the grain. We learned from Denise that we should always voice our opinion no matter the consequence.
In the second episode of season four, eldest daughter Sandra and her husband Elvin decide to take a different career path. After a promising career in law and medicine, they decide to open a wilderness store…in Brooklyn. An argument ensues between the Huxtables and the newlyweds. After much resistance, Cliff and Claire both allow the couple to follow their dreams.
“Cosby Show” episodes that featured Sandra tend to focus on finding your inner happiness. Life lessons we gained by watching Sandra are that our path isn’t predetermined. Sometimes plans change, but one should always follow their heart.