Many are unaware that the Media has always had a vital role when it comes to the representation of various groups in the society, but television, as the most general medium, plays an important position in shaping and representing attitudes. Promotion, as one of the television genres, is considered to be a very prominent discourse kind in almost all modern societies (Cook, 2005). Furthermore to data concerning products and services, it concepts a secondary discourse in regards to society and power and also the relations. Gender relations are looked at one of the secondary discourses that ads create. The image of man and woman in media, mainly those in television, is vital for the sympathetic of social interactions, social practices, and philosophy. However, there are some television programs that pushed the envelope and challenged such as the Cosby Show.
What was the Cosby show?
On September 20, 1984 there was a show that was born which that aired and changed the face of TV shows. It also was a show that managed to change the way people look and view gender roles on television. Television still maintains traditional gender typecasts and in reflecting them TV supports them by showing them as what was normal (Chandler, 2010). As shown by TV Guide, the show turned out to be "was TV's biggest hit in the 1980s, and almost single-handedly brought the station back from the dead and brought NBC's ratings over the roof" (The Cosby Show, 1985-1992). A first, ABC did not want the show so NBC picked it up. Entertainment Weekly mentioned that The Cosby Show assisted in making possible a larger diversity of shows which were founded on individuals that are of African descent, from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to the Living Color to (Bordo, 2007). The Cosby Show was founded on comedy procedures in Cosby's standup act, which were based off things he went through when he was growing up. There were other sitcoms, such as Everybody Loves Raymond and Home Improvement, would eventually later follow that design. The show produced the spin-off a similar show which was called A Different World, and it stayed on the air for six seasons from the years of 1987 to 1993.
Challenging the Gender
The Cosby Show could turn out to be the normal gender stereotyping of television, which was going to the dominant social standards of its time dated. In its challenge of the leading social opinion, the show re-directed the depiction of female and roles in television. The show was able to re-define gender roles that were on the job and in the household, also in social expectations, and in household errands. The Cosby Show reinforced Freidan in her opinion of "criticizing the phony happy housewife protagonist of the women's periodicals" .
Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable was a fruitful OB/GYN (gynecologist /obstetrician/), who was similarly as complicated in domestic tasks as his wife Clair. Cliff was the one that had a huge part in raising all of his five children and then having to handle with every one of their physical and emotional issue. Cliff's wife Clair Huxtable was an extremely fruitful companion that worked for a very large and prestiges law firm, who was able to keep her career balanced and then find the time to keep her family in check. This woman was able to fill the role as being the head of the household and also made it her number one priority to keep not only her children but also making sure that her husband Cliff was in check and in line. The eldest daughter, named Sondra Huxtable was a young woman that was sort of serious, brainy, and very ambitious woman that had everything planned out for her life. She managed to push herself into the prestigious Princeton University.
Denise Huxtable, the second oldest daughter, was very funny. She was known to have a good sense of humor. Denise was the girl next door and most of the time she was going around trying to test her parents by expressing her weird point of views and wearing strange clothing. Then there was the only son named Theo Huxtable who was a very witty and extroverted young man. He did things like play out the usual teenage boy part by putting cars, girls and friends and having a good time before his school work. Vanessa Huxtable, the second youngest daughter was a bright girl, who most of the time appeared as if she was very air-headed in the show. Vanessa emphasis during the show at times would actually clash with her mother, Claire. The final and fifth child was Rudy Huxtable who was attention focused and most of the time got the most concentration from Clair and Cliff. She was very outgoing, amusing, and continuously worried herself with family difficulties and issues.
The characters of The Cosby Show were people that had various gender-typed mannerisms that went against the usual typecast revealed on television. Shows like The Wonder Years and Married with Children and wholly depicted the masculine role of being the working man, who was not tangled in domestic jobs. These types of shows also highlighted the female role of a housewife. The Cosby show was something that did remarkable things like defy all of these stereotypes. Cliff being a man was the one that actually cared about what went on in the household and Clair was the one that brought home the bacon and cared a lot about her career and preceding it tremendously. Sondra was just like her mother Claire because she was very goal-focused and had a future planned with a delightful career. Every one of these mannerisms went totally against the every type of gender stereotype of the time or that was seen on the television. All of the women of that were a part of the show were normally the influential characters. Clair and Cliff estimation was of equal worth in every type decision-making circumstances and more frequently than not Clair's views was of grander influence. Clair's influence also displayed when Cliff's habit of eating harmful foods was starting to really get out of needed to end and control. Clair also was the one that continuously made sure he was eating the right food, and every time Cliff had the opportunity of eating something that was bad for his health, he normally was mostly scared of the wrath of Clair if she happened to catch him. The women that were on the show likewise presented their pure power with the numbers, the women out numbered the men 5 to 1.
The Cosby Show did was always able to do a very good job of not getting the characters into some kind of difficult situation. Gregory Bateson describes what is called a double blind very good in Susan Bordo essay. In the essay he describes it as, "a disorder in which a person is depending on equally discordant guidelines, where they are directed to achieve two unpredictable necessities at the same time" (163). Cliff was not a man that has the anticipation of being a subtle man in the house handling the family issues and being what is considered a "masculine man" outside the home with his associates. Cliff was a honest subtle individual from the time the show started all the way until it went off the air in 1992 throughout the show, was the one that cared about everyone's feelings. Clair was the type of person that was caring, innovative individual in all aspects of her life and it did not matter what the circumstances were and it was not looked down upon by anybody that happened to be on the show. Both the husband and wife did not install in their children gender roles and in fact was never an issue. In doing this, the Cosby Show sustained to challenge classic television assessments. If a person were to take a good look at The Cosby Show, it was a show that stepped up to the plate and confronted the stereotypical picture of gender roles in television.
The Women and Restricted Roles
As Daniel Chandler made the point, "Most of women in television are actually limited to a few roles. Roles that are for males are far more exciting and also extensive. Women are sometime displayed on TV in old-fashioned' roles for instance secretaries, mothers, housewives, and nurses; usually most of the men are displayed as fathers and husbands, nonetheless likewise as athletes, tycoons and superstars “. Clair was a woman that was able to confront the conventional role of a woman by being a successful attorney and a mother. Her power and authority in decision-making circumstances likewise went in contradiction of the normal gender role of a woman. Cliff confronted the male gender part by being a thoughtful, gentle husband who was in the same way involved in his job and family life.
Sondra, who was the older daughter, was able to challenge the orthodox role of a woman by keeping her emphasis on a career and instead of kids and husband. She was motivated enough to register into Princeton University and contemplate on her educations. Merely throughout her plan of going through college and really working hard on her studies did she then meet the man that she would marry. She was a type of woman that really stayed focused. She was very headstrong ad tenacious. When she got married, it did not deter her from changing her ambitions of a magnificent career woman, which most during that time respected greatly. As the show was able to challenge these gender roles it produced some pleasing role models for youths of today.
Heathcliff was a great role model for men, displaying that you can be a man and still hold on to a great good career, while being delicate and thoughtful to the individuals in the person’s life. Clair was a pleasing example for women, making the point that females did not have to conform with the gender role of being a housewife. She showed that you could be a career woman and still run the home. The show and the role models in them permitted individuals to believe they did not have to go along with the gender typecasts of the world.
Opposite of Typical Gender
The Cosby Show really did change history because it was able to show a different side of television when it came to gender. Many believe that the show did this in order to demonstrate to everyone that it is flawlessly satisfactory to go contrary to the public opinion of gender typecasts if that is how things are to be. The show permits men to think it is satisfactory to be sensitive and concerned with their family and also permits the females to trust that it is great to be family and career oriented. The sitcom was also a show that went against the gender typecast that woman should be obedient to men and displays that their view also has a voice and she count just as much as a mans does. With all of these types of examples, the show challenges the usual stereotypes of television and gender roles. As mentioned before, not even white shows did what the Cosby show has performed. Many shows during that era were very typecast of all of the characters and particularly when it came to women being on the shoe. They did not cast many women that would play a role that made her appear as though she was captain of the ship or head of the household. The Cosby show was the only sitcom that was brave enough to break all of the old traditions that had kept television bound for all of those years.
It was clear that most other shows did not want to mess with the gender roles and switch them because they felt United States was not ready yet to accept the switch. Most of the audience during that time was people that came from Brady Bunch role and were not ready to see any type of change come to the TV at least not yet.
With that said, this message the show gave really had a huge effect on a lot of people and also the culture of America in ways that cannot be explained. Many believe that this show was the only show that was ever made to show gender roles in a positive light they were able to show these gender roles like this in a more positive light. The fact that no other show even dare tried it put the Cosby show on the map. It fact, it was a show that was the trailblazer for other shows that would start having the roles switched. The Cosby show was able to do a marvelous job presenting that sometimes it is just better to go against the public custom and do what just feels right to do at the moment. This show gave a lot of women the confidence that they could pursue their dreams and their dreams and they did not have to just stick with being a house wife. Men also were able to breathe more and not be ashamed of being sensitive to their wives and also staying home to take care of their children.
Men all over the country started feeling more comfortable with allowing their women to go to work and they stay at home and taking care of the children. The women were also able to feel more confident in bringing home the bacon. They were able to have it all and for the first time because of the Cosby show, they did not have to be ashamed of it. The Cosby show had no idea that its gender role switch would start a whole new era that would still go on until the very day. As mentioned earlier, many other shows started to become designed after this format with the woman working and the man sort being a little more laid back.
It is clear that if a woman decides that she wants to be a housewife who emphasis more on making sure she is raising her children or a being a career woman, it is her selection ultimately. The show taught that if a man really wanted to be just as much involved in his career and family, than the woman is then, it should be his choice to do it. It is clear that the Cosby show made the point that it should not even matter what the gender stereotype are and this show really is what helped men and women believe that the individual feeling is every so often more significant than the usual social belief.
In the end, I think the show does this to make a declaration to the society that gender stereotypes are frequently incorrect and simply founded on tradition. This tradition is something that goes all the way back to a time where men ran the system. This kind of system made it where the women had to perform roles that were weak and lesser than the men. It almost made it appear as though the men were dominating the women or something but that was not really the case. The men basically had to be seen in a more masculine type of role. The thing with The Cosby Show was that it went against the standard to show that the contrary side of the societal gender roles was also faultlessly suitable type of practices. The Cosby Show was a sitcom that certainly made a huge leap into territory that was untapped and uncharted with sitcoms of its time period, but when this brave and bold move was done it was able to give everyone a good foretaste of the gender roles that have been making a huge impact on TV and what it has become today. It is obvious that the Cosby show has really changed the course of history as far as sitcoms are concerned. It brought television into a place where there is clearly no going back.
Bordo, S., 2007. "Gender Matters: Gentleman or Beast? The Double Blind of Masculinity" . In: New York: Macmillian , pp. 163-174.
Chandler, D., 2010. Television and Gender Roles. London: Macmillian.
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The Cosby Show. 1985-1992. [Film] Directed by Ed. Weinberger. United States: CBS.