Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Gender representations/The Cosby Show (week 4)

The Cosby Show was an American sitcom which stared Bill Cosby. The show aired on September 20th, 1984. 
For as long as televisions sets have existed, and even still today television shows and film still sustain to portray traditional gender stereotypes at the home, at the work place and social situations. Yes, there have been a number of films and tv shows during the 80s which have challenged the roles, yet stereotypical roles were still presented as the "norm". The Cosby Show did an incredible way of challenging these idealistic roles, audaciously going against the authoritative social values which were held during it's time period. The show redefined the portrayal of men and women within tv, in all aspects of expectations and responsibilities. 

Cosby's character, Cliff is shown to be as equally involved as his wife Clair, when regarding domestic duties such as cooking for his family, cleaning the house, and looking after the children. Throughout the series Cliff demonstrates his equal role in raising their children as well as dealing with their emotional and physical problems and needs. Both parents also have very respectable jobs in the show. It would have been more common at the time, in family-related texts, typically for the mother to take care of the housework, do the cooking, raise and look after the family whilst the husband spent the day at work. 
This series gives a great example of how challenged gender  roles are not something to be feared or argued against. There should not be a "woman's role" or a "man's role" when considering house work and family responsibilities. Obviously whether or not women and men in real life chose to follow traditional or non-traditional roles is completely up to the individual, there should not be a right or wrong way. The show showcases how reversed gender roles and equality in gender roles within society and the home just as acceptable as the traditional roles we see daily. 

Shows as The Cosby Show, along with many other films and tv shows which portray family's with non-traditional gender roles, and challenge the typical husband and wife behaviours have undeniably helped to loosen the boundaries which society had created for men and women. 

In addition to breaking the gender boundaries in the 80s, The Cosby Show also took typical African-American roles in tv and film into new levels. The idea of an 80s tv show situated around the lives of a middle-class African-American family would have been a hugely positive leap for the African-American community. Up until then, African-Americans had more often than not, been limited to the roles of gangsters, pimps, drug dealers or a range of servitude. Whilst there was a small number of African-American based texts around, none succeed as well as The Cosby Show, which leaded to the growth of African-American texts in which it's characters would be perceived in a positive light, such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Family Matters, Everybody Hates Chris and countless more.


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