I think that My Wife and Kids is about as close to The Cosby Show as you can get. Sure you have “Read Between The Lines”, but I just can’t get into that show.
I never watched the finale of the show though. Come to think of it, I don’t watch many finales at all. I finally watched the finale for A Different World, like 2 years ago.
You can differentiate My Wife and Kids from the minute details. For one, the “TV Father” of that show was self-made, and a business owner. The wife used to work but decided to become a housewife early on in the first season.
The show dealt with contemporary issues of that time, just like The Cosby Show.
A lot of people felt that The Cosby Show was not real. Perhaps it was not for the majority of African-Americans at that time. If you are poor, or even working class, working poor, this is not a reality for you.
I knew kids whose parents were Black professionals. They had everything that they wanted; all of the material things, went to good schools, usually went to public schools for high school, so they could be well rounded, and relate to other Blacks that were not as fortunate as they were. This was back in the eighties, when the Cosby Show had come on.
The only thing that was unrealistic about the show, is the utopia it represented. As difficult as things are for Black people today, and even then, getting money was never the problem. The problem is with relationships, and those are problems that money cannot fix, wounds that money cannot heal. If you were caught up in all of the designer clothing, the big townhouse, and the luxurious upper middle class lifestyle that The Cosby’s had, you would think that, if your family had all of those things, you wouldn’t have any problems.
With more money, often comes more problems.
Black Americans found that out quickly. Bill Cosby himself, who had far more money than the father he played on television, or any of the other roles that he played on the small screen, had problems in his own family that he had to deal with. The Cosby Show was simply a fantasy that came at the right time; a calculated, genius move by Bill Cosby, that may never be replicated to the same effect that The Cosby Show had on America.
When we look to shows to pick up where The Cosby Show left off, we find ourselves chasing an unhealthy fantasy that never should have happened in the first place. The Cosby Show was our Xanadu, yet another one of those sick, demented, eighties fantasies in which you could suspend all belief, and there was no better time to be living, no better generation to have grown up in, at that time. Everyone that was worth their salt as a producer or a writer orchestrated these beautiful fantasies that simply did not exist in any other time in television history, and may never exist again.
My Wife and Kids, while it had a “Cosby-like” look and feel, was more contemporary, and more relevant. More Black people can relate to the idea of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and trying something for themselves, out of the frustration of the workplace, than can see themselves in Bill Cosby’s shoes. A lot of us do not have the personality that Dr. Huxtable had; he was the same guy at home that he was at work. That is a lot of pressure, a hard act to keep up with.
Television sitcoms do one of two things; they inspire us, through aspirational programming, which is what The Cosby Show was for, or they exploit ultra-realistic situations that show the most dysfunctional families ever, for laughs. Some shows, like the Tyler Perry sitcoms, as somewhere in between. Will there ever be another Cosby Show; no, of course not, just cheap imitations, do sitcoms that lie conveniently in that grey area like My Wife and Kids work? Of course they do, and the fact that they aren’t trying to be the next anything is what makes them as great as they are.