We re here to say goodbye to a cherished friend the cosby show
1 / 21

- PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on

“We’re here to say goodbye to a cherished friend”: The Cosby Show. HUM 3085: Television and Popular Culture Spring 2013 Dr. Perdigao January 23, 2013. Contextualizing the Cos. The Cosby Show premiered on September 20, 1984 on NBC Fourth television series featuring Bill Cosby

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.
Download Presentation

PowerPoint Slideshow about '' - zaviera-nunez

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Presentation Transcript
We re here to say goodbye to a cherished friend the cosby show

“We’re here to say goodbye to a cherished friend”: The Cosby Show

HUM 3085: Television and Popular Culture

Spring 2013

Dr. Perdigao

January 23, 2013

Contextualizing the cos
Contextualizing the Cos

  • The Cosby Show premiered on September 20, 1984 on NBC

  • Fourth television series featuring Bill Cosby

  • Eight year run

  • Revolutionary representations of identity, the American family—race, class, gender—and revolutionary developments for the networks, the revitalization of NBC

  • Averaged 63 million viewers during its peak in the late 1980s

  • Cosby’s origins—comedy records, featured roles on The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS) and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (NBC)

  • 1960s series I Spy (NBC) (1965-1968): secret agent, white partner

  • (Nelson George)


  • 1970s films with Sidney Poitier: Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again, A Piece of the Action

  • Established style of physical comedy and verbal humor

  • The Bill Cosby Show (NBC sitcom)

  • The New Bill Cosby Show (NBC variety show)

  • Fat Albert routines—Saturday cartoon

  • Commercial success—spokesman for cars, computers, Jell-O


  • Sanford and Son (1972-1977)

  • Good Times (1974-1979)

  • The Jeffersons (1975-1985)

  • Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986)

  • Webster (1983-1989)


  • With The Cosby Show, NBC went from #3 to #2 in ratings

  • Highest-rated new series on any network since 1978-1979 season and #1 in ratings from 1985-1989; first series with that ranking for that length of time since All in the Family, top five for seven consecutive seasons (1984-1991)

  • “Must-See TV” as new tradition on Thursday nights

  • Set up spinoff A Different World and sitcoms Cheers, Friends, Seinfeld as part of “Must-See TV” tradition

  • Influence on other series aired on Thursday night lineup—Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court

  • Hammocking: “schedul[ing] a weaker program between two hits” (Mittell 27)

  • Lead-in: popular program to a new show or a show that is struggling (27)

  • Crossovers: from spinoff to guest appearances, continued storylines (28)

Social commentary
Social Commentary

  • Problematic politics in reception

  • As “reality” or “fantasy”

  • Ideas about “progress”—no need for affirmative action programs

  • Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Alvin Pousaaint as consultant to show

  • Ideas about race in programming

  • Later debates, responses in WB, UPN

  • (Nelson George)

Kids say the darndest things
Kids Say the Darndest Things

  • Theo: “You’re a doctor and Mom’s a lawyer, and you’re both successful in everything and that’s great! But maybe I was born to be a regular person and have a regular life. If you weren’t a doctor, I wouldn’t love you less, because you’re my dad. So rather than feeling disappointed because I’m not like you, maybe you should accept who I am and love me anyway, because I’m your son.” (Pilot, “Theo’s Economic Lesson”)

Cosby isms from sweaters to retorts
Cosby-isms: From Sweaters to Retorts

  • Cliff: “Theo... That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life! No wonder you get D’s in everything! You’re afraid to try because you’re afraid your brain is going to explode and it’s going to ooze out of your ears. Now I’m telling you, you are going to try as hard as you can. And you’re going to do it because I said so. I am your father. I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out!”

    (Pilot, “Theo’s Economic Lesson”)

  • Cliff: “No 14 year-old boy should have a ninety-five dollar shirt, unless he is on stage with his four brothers!” (“The Shirt Story”)

  • Cliff: “Your mother and I are rich; you have nothing.” (“Vanessa’s Rich”)

An evolving form
An Evolving Form

  • Mittell’s characterization of the six functions of television:

    1. A commercial industry (grossing over $100 billion annually through advertising, cable fees, DVD sales, and other sources of revenue)

    2. A democratic institution (informing American citizens through news and electoral coverage, governed by public policy regulations)

    3. A textual form (distinct narrative structure and set of genres distinct from other media)

    4. A site of cultural representation (mirror of our world, often distorted representation of national identity, shaping our perceptions)

    5. A part of everyday life (part of our routines, conversations)

    6. A technological medium (central screen for digital entertainment and information media in the home)

    (Mittell 2)


  • Classical Network Era

  • Origins in radio industry in the mid-1940s and lasting until the mid-1980s

  • All programming presented by three national networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC)

  • Television’s role as “the primary medium that defines American culture” established during this period (Mittell 10)

  • The Multi-Channel Era

  • 1980s as traditional period, shift from domination of national broadcast networks to cable and satellite programming

  • New formats and strategies to target audiences

  • Fox and Univision emerged to compete with the Big Three

  • Remote controls and VCRs redefined viewing habits (Mittell 11)


  • The Convergence Era

  • Changing medium due to new(er) technologies: internet and video games

  • Alternatives to traditional programming (Mittell 11)


  • Production, distribution, and transmission as the exchange of programming (Mittell 19)

  • Production company manages the creative process (oftentimes subsidiaries of film studios)

  • Logos or bumpers at the end credits of programs


  • Deficit financing: significant debt for first few years of a series; license fees only covering a portion of production costs—financial gains with longer running series (Mittell 22)

  • Showrunner: coordinator manages production process from concept through the series (Mittell 22)

  • Standards-and-practices department for each network (Mittell 26)

  • Hollywood studios mostly producing or co-producing fictional programming but independent television producers have played significant roles, decreased (not deceased) function since 1990s (Mittell 23)

  • Independent television producers: Desilu Productions (I Love Lucy, Star Trek), Carsey-Werner Company (The Cosby Show, That ‘70s Show)


  • Shift from Network Era in 1980s and 1990s with new networks: Fox in the mid 1980s and UPN and the WB in the mid-1990s

  • WB and UPN disbanded, recreated as The CW (co-owned by Warner Bros. and Viacom)

  • Counter-program as series targeting different audience (29)

  • Logos and snipes, or pop-up ads advertising new series (30)

  • Branding network identities (30)

  • Cable and satellite channels (31)

  • MTV and branding (32) [What, MTV and music videos?]

Hybrids don t just appear on the vampire diaries
Hybrids Don’t Just Appear on The Vampire Diaries

  • Syndication as model of distribution; no centralized schedule or channel identity (Mittell 33)

  • Formulas

  • Innovation, imitation, saturation (Mittell 46)

  • Spin-off: Buffy to Angel

  • Franchise: Law & Order, CSI

  • Clones

  • Recombinants: Roswell=X-Files + Beverly Hills, 90210? (Mittell 46)

An evolving form1
An Evolving Form

  • Television texts to be “read,” interpreted

  • Text: “any bounded communication system that can be analyzed, from a novel to a billboard, a piece of music to a painting” (Mittell 159)

  • “Texts need not be grounded in language, as visual and aural expression convey meaning and can express ideas. Television programs are clearly texts for the purposes of analysis, offering a range of meanings expressed through visual, sonic, and linguistic cues” (Mittell 159)

  • For interpretation, uses of terms/theories from the study of film, literature, visual art, music, and theatre

  • Also recognition of the distinctions of the medium (Mittell 159)