The Cosby Show alum Keshia Knight Pulliam says that the iconic family comedy, which has its 40th anniversary coming next September, should continue to be celebrated as a part of TV history — despite the many sexual misconduct and assault allegations made against co-creator and star Bill Cosby.
“You can’t take away the work that we all collectively did,” the actress, who played Cosby’s youngest TV daughter Rudy Huxtable, told People.com. “[The show] was bigger than one person.”
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“A lot of actors wait their entire lifetime for an opportunity like that,” Knight Pulliam added. “I’m grateful I have been a part of a piece of work that has really transcended generations and that’s still teaching lessons that are relevant today.”
The Cosby Show ran for eight seasons on NBC from 1984-1992, and followed the lives of the Huxtables, an upper middle class Black family; Cosby starred as the patriarch. The sitcom during its run was lauded for dispelling racial stereotypes that were common in the media at that time, but its legacy is tainted by the numerous sexual assault allegations made against Cosby in recent years, dating back to the 1970s.
The disgraced comedian was first convicted in April 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was later sentenced to three to 10 years in prison, before the conviction was overturned in June 2021.
Stars of The Cosby Show have long struggled to reconcile its legacy with the charges made against Cosby. TV wife Phylicia Rashad originally came to Cosby’s defense in a 2015 interview with Showbiz411.com, saying, “What you’re seeing is the destruction of a legacy. And I think it’s orchestrated… And it’s a legacy that is so important to the culture.”
Rashad followed up on those remarks in a sit-down with ABC News, hailing Cosby as “a genius” who is “generous,” “kind” and “inclusive…. What has happened is declaration in the media of guilt, without proof.” In fact, when that conviction was overturned in June 2021, Rashad tweeted, “FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted. A miscarriage of justice is corrected!” — though she near-immediately walked that back a bit, saying her words were “in no way intended to be insensitive” to survivors of sexual assault. “Personally, I know from friends and family that such abuse has lifelong residual effects,” she wrote. “My heartfelt wish is for healing.”
As far as the aforementioned 40th anniversary coming next September, Knight Pulliam told People.com, “There’s nothing that we’re working on or discussing at this point” in terms of marking the milestone.
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