Cosby vs. Huxtable

Uncategorized Posted Dec 1, 2014 by chenpr

Did you root for Tiger Woods to win golf tournaments before November 27, 2009? Most fans did; Woods was the most popular personality in the game before he crashed his car and news broke of his pattern of infidelity. Despite the controversy, Tiger Woods maintains a strong following; there are many fans that are able to compartmentalize their personal feelings for a player’s conduct in order to enjoy the games they play. It’s a matter of athlete versus person; sport versus life. But because of his behavior off the course Woods is now a polarizing figure and there are a lot of people who cannot root for someone with a track record that includes poor moral decisions or legal problems.

This subject has been on my mind lately outside the realm of sports. Actor/comedian Bill Cosby has found himself in the news recently amid accusations by a number of women that the 77 year old entertainment icon committed disturbing and violent behavior against them. Though he has been mostly silent on the issue, Cosby’s lawyer maintains he is innocent of the charges, and it remains to be seen if the matter will ever be tested in a court of law. Cosby is taking a beating in the court of public opinion, however. Public appearances have been canceled; affiliations have been severed; television projects have been scuttled; and The Cosby Show—a rerun staple on TV Land and other networks, has been pulled from the air.


Axing future productions is understandable in light of the allegations. From a practical standpoint it’s a big risk of time and money with such a dark cloud hanging over the project’s centerpiece. But does taking reruns of the Cosby Show off-air make sense, even in light of the allegations against Cosby?

Bill Cosby the actor is not the same as Cliff Huxtable the character. For all of the former’s alleged failings and misdeeds, the latter is a brilliantly crafted television character guided by a great relationship with his wife, his kids, his job and a keen sense of humor. As the head of a fictitious family, Cliff Huxtable helped to entertain and educate audiences each week. The Huxtable legacy was established before the allegations against Cosby became a matter of public debate. bill-cosby-show2-300x225

The defense becomes shakier for professional athletes, such as Tiger Woods. Professional athletes are still themselves when they partake in sport; in a sense, it’s the most real form of reality television. But the similarity lies in comparing the product on the screen with the athlete’s/actor’s personal life. Should we separate the two? There is no right answer to that question, and the better question is do we want to.