29. THE COSBY SHOW
Created by Ed Weinberger & Michael Leeson and William Cosby, Jr., Ed. D.
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Aired: NBC, 1984-1992
Bill Cosby’s return to network television caused a new vogue for sitcoms based closely on the act of a stand-up comedian, a trend that dominated primetime into the ensuing decades. Cosby’s homespun, discursive and anecdotal storytelling style onstage made re-creating that approach, in sitcom form, a particular challenge. Cosby Show writer Erich van Lowe told Written By the star’s advice to his writers was, “Don’t write jokes; write humor.” “It took me a while to figure that out,” van Lowe said. “Listen to his records and listen to him speak – it’s all humor.” Cosby’s belief in the immutability of family and an elder’s wisdom had to be infused into the Huxtable household, down to using proper grammar in the scripts. “No contractions,” said writer Adriana Trigiani. “Respect the parents. Comedy without humiliation or degradation. No cheap laughs.” The show was number one from 1985 to 1990.
How The Cosby Show changed the way we saw and wrote family TV
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