Bill Cosby, in lieu of his recent legal battles, has been on the wrong side of media attention and public opinion for the last few years. Although he is to head back to trial very soon, the avid black television fan can only wonder what this will mean for the shows Cosby produced that were taken off the air.
Like it or not, Cosby was fundamental in providing black families with programs that became pillars in the lives of many African-Americans. His productions were groundbreaking, portraying the black familial narrative in a different light.
When Cosby’s legal troubles surfaced, however, networks struggled with whether they would air the re-runs of his shows such as Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, the Cosby Show, and The Electric Company.
Hence the question: Is it possible to separate the man from the program?
BounceTV seems to think so. In 2015, Bounce TV withdrew their decision to pull the Cosby Show re-runs from the network.
This is a part of the statement they released:
Following the results of a qualitative research study which indicated demand from a vast majority of Bounce viewers to see ‘The Cosby Show’ on television again, the network has made the decision to begin airing the series next month.”
“While we take very seriously the accusations against Bill Cosby, our research showed that African-American consumers see a distinction between Bill Cosby, the man, and the iconic TV character Cliff Huxtable. Research and direct viewer feedback were the deciding factors in the network’s decision to move forward. The desire among African Americans to see the show on TV again is being reinforced on social media based upon overwhelmingly positive viewer response since the announcement.”
— Bounce (@bouncetv) November 11, 2016
As imagined by BounceTV #blacktwitter unanimously rejoiced.
— FLYRYE (@DaFlyestRye) March 15, 2017
In 2014, The Parents Television Council (PTC), whose mission is to protect children and families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media, posted an article thanking Bill Cosby for wanting to create a new family friendly comedy for a new generation.
All conversation of the new comedy has since been put to rest in lieu of cosby’s legal situation.
Needless to say, the PTC still stands by their sentiment of having quality family television back on the air. They urged that:
Cosby understands what America has been missing, so his desire to fill the void is an encouraging and welcome development. We wish him success, and hope others will follow his lead. – Bill Cosby Is Bringing Back Family TV, the Parents Television Council
With that being said, there should be some degree of separation between Bill Cosby, the person and the shows he produces. The show themselves and the positive affects that they’ve had should warrant a different sentence.
Blogger Abesi Manyando makes a great point in her Huffington Post article:
Sure someone might say well what about the accusations against Bill Cosby and what does that say about women in our society? Well the election should answer that. It appears people are in fact able to separate a person’s behavior and accusations with their work. Donald Trump is about to be our Commander in Chief isn’t he? What more can you say?
– The Cosby Show Returns On Bounce TV (Exclusive), Huffington Post
She may have a point, the true question however, is will the powers that be agree.
Disclaimer: The following blog post is written for academic use and should only be used for the Social Media Marketing class.