NOTE: THIS WAS WRITTEN BEFORE BILL COSBY’S CONVICTION OR SEXUAL CRIMES. It is based on the achievements of the show alone.

The 1950s had Danny Thomas, in the 60s it was Andy Griffith. The 1970s brought the world Archie Bunker. So who would rise to define the American family sitcom in the 1980s? The Cosby Show.

The world of Cliff, Clair, Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy Huxtable was credited by TV Guide as almost single-handedly reviving the sitcom genre and NBC’s ratings fortunes. The Cosby Show is also heralded as the program which opened doors to more programming based on predominantly African-American casts. The show was also influential as one of the first successful programs based on the work of a standup comedian and paved the way for shows like Roseanne, Home Improvement and Seinfeld.

Bill Cosby originally pitched a show about a blue-collar family with a stay-at-home mom. But producers convinced Cosby to make the family more affluent, to put the show’s focus more on the comedy. It proved to be a winning formula. The Cosby Show is one of only two TV sitcoms to spend five consecutive years at #1 in the Neilson ratings (All In The Family is the other show).

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