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Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Cosby Show, Civil Rights and Modern Family

I seem to recall that when "The Cosby Show" was on TV it was criticized by some for not being more explicit about civil rights for African Americans. Such criticism seemed to assume that the only way to bring about change is to be explicit about what you want to change. I, however, beg to differ. My sense was always that by portraying an affluent Black family where the lead characters were an attorney and a doctor and the kids aspired to attend college, "The Cosby Show" shattered the stereotypes that many people had about African-Americans.

Now consider the new hit show, "Modern Family," which focuses on the lives of three families: (1) one (relatively) traditional family; (2) one where the man of the house, after divorcing his long-time wife, has married a much-younger woman from Colombia and is helping her raise her pre-teen son; and (3) one gay couple that is raising an adopted Vietnamese girl. I'm not sure whether it is having the same effect that "The Cosby Show" had, but I can't help but wonder whether "Modern Family" is shattering a few stereotypes of its own.

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