Stratification Media Analysis

The Cosby Show

This is a show that has been running in the American television and aired by the starring, Bill Cosby. The program aired for eight lessons from 1984 to 1992. It is focused on an upper-middle-class African American family that lives in Brooklyn, New York. The show was presented through Cosby’s standup act that reflected the true family life. The family of Huxtable is a family with five children with five daughters and one son. The father Mr. Cliff Huxtable is an obstetrician and a son a renowned jazz trombonist. The madam of the house bears the role of an attorney.

The program was one of the most famous sitcoms from families in the US. With the family different family values, wealth, and humor have been integrated giving it the potential of going to a great height regarding ratings. The Huxtables family was a family comprised of all black and lived in a famous neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. The parents are successful career people in the law and medical field. They are thus capable of educating their children with some attending colleges such as Princeton and New York University (Ferguson, 2003). The show happens to be one the critically acclaimed situation comedies based on the American popular culture. The program is set in conservative tone focused on a domestic setting that aims to promote morals among the viewers through is a focus on a wealthy African American family. Other comedies that had aired before this program tended to portray the black family in a crisis with the continuation of racist and stereotyping of the condition of the black American.

This paper will analyze The Cosby Show to show the theme of race relations has been brought out. The program aired by Bill Cosby aimed to create a platform for a social corrective. In his sense, Bill wanted to bring out a middle class, a black one for that matter, and through this avoid the trends of racialization by showcasing the middle-class values without considering the color. Cosby promoted the concept of color blindness where it required one to ignore a particular race and ethnicity. However, the program ended up evoking a new phenomenon referred to an enlightened racism (Crooks, 2014).

The program was aired at a time when the American public had pre-conceived facts with concern to the African-American lifestyles, thereby prompting the producers to develop programs that incorporated the black culture. The America community was in a fight of the historical prejudices with the media shipping in the fight to end discrimination and racism and the racial stereotypes. Unlike other prior programs son the black community where poverty and ignorance were used as the main black stereotypes, The Cosby show moved away from this and portrayed the black family different from what the society perceived.

The show’s depiction of a black family through its episodes have accomplished what the role of indicating the social relations in the term as the racial position. This has been repeated through the episodes. In one scene in episode five, a shirt story is brought out where a scenario where Cliff and Clair attempt to give their children much but at the same time denying everything. The act shows a case where Theo, the only son, bought a shirt worth $95 and the father could not stand the idea. In this, they were bringing out of the idea of entitlement and wanted the kids to learn about hard work and sacrifice  (Alston, 2012).

The Cosby show was considered as not offering a realistic image of the black family in the middle class. The show bases its episodes on a stereotyping of a black family that had not experienced with negative racial problems. The show is not set to indicate serious tragedy facing the Black American in the real world (Inniss & Feagin, 1995). The class category of the Huxtable family is a means of conveying a positive message about the black dignity. The movies are based on portraying a painless racial harmony in a utopian manner. The show offers a constructive role model for the blacks as it indicates that racial inequality results from the inadequate aspirations of those affected.

The non-verbal cues in the show can be established by analysis of the mise-en-scene and its connection to the ethnic patriotism. Mise-en-scene represents the visual elements within the setting. In the show, the visual elements to be considered from the show include; the Varnette Honeywood’s paintings, the posters hanging in the son’s, Theo’s room, and the many cases where dark colored furniture are placed against light colored furniture. In the initial episodes, the Varnete Honeywood paintings are found in the living room, the son’s room and the hall. The painting depicts portraits of a black woman while other indicate the people of the black ethnicity. This implies that the family is glued to its racial stratification and recognizes itself along the racial lines. In Theo’s room, there are posters of African American athletes comprised of basketball players and famous boxer. By having it on the wall depicts the source of inspiration of the boy and again comes from people of the same ethnicity. In this connection, the Show depicts a society that is motivated along racial backgrounds.

In another case the visual elements indicate most furniture of dark brown or off-white creating contrasting two colors. This is the situation of the furnishing in the whole house. The exterior of the house is dark brown as compared to the neighbor’s house that is white. The argument of racial differences is brought out through contrasting of the two colors. The choice for the use of these two colors has an important significance of the black and white race. These two races are presented in a way as being different despite being together. While the visual element here does not indicate the position in the controversy, it creates a visual connection between the characters and their racial roots.

In conclusion, the Cosby show is not set to indicate the cases of racial injustices or inequalities but rather brings portrays the white and black races presented on the same platform. It depicts the living conditions of a general middle-class family despite their racial background. From its visual cues, the Cosby show indicates that inspiration for the society is profound along the racial line.


Alston, J. (2012). How the Cosby Show Spoke to Race and Class in the 80’s America. Retrieved from–87848

Crooks, R. (2014). Enlightened Racism and the Cosby Show. The Florida State University Undergraduate Research Journal.

Ferguson, A. (2003). The Cosby Show and its Role in Breaking Stereotypes. Lehigh University Theses and Dissertations.

Inniss, L., & Feagin, J. (1992). The Cosby Show: The View from the Black Middle Classs. Journal of Black Studies, 692-711.

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