By Sarah Mansheim
Ugh. Bill Cosby.
Over the years, I’d heard the rumors that he was a sexual predator, but I chose to look away because I thought they couldn’t be true. Bill Cosby, to me, is Cliff Huxtable, and Cliff and Claire Huxtable are the Best Parents in the World.
The Cosby Show was on the air throughout my childhood, and I tuned in every week to see what Denise, Theo, Vanessa, Rudy, Sondra, and later, Olivia were up to. They were like my richer, more cultured cousins, living in the city with two successful, caring and funny parents.
Over the last several years, now that I’m a parent myself, I watched reruns of The Cosby Show found myself identifying with Cliff and Claire. I’ve even joked that my motto is, “What Would the Huxtables Do?” in regards to parenting problems. During this time, there were whispers here and there on the internet that Bill Cosby had raped some women after slipping pills into their drinks, and I actually made the decision to willfully ignore the rumors.
“I don’t care,” I thought. “I love Bill Cosby.”
Now, the rumors are impossible to ignore. Every day there is another news story about another of Bill Cosby’s victims coming forward along with stage managers and other people in his inner circle who claim that they helped enable Bill Cosby in his sexual assaults. TV Land has pulled The Cosby Show from syndication, and NBC has shelved a comeback series for the aging comedian.
It is important to note that Bill Cosby has never been indicted in criminal court or proven guilty of any type of sexual assault. Last weekend, he spoke out about the rumors, stating he would not respond to “innuendo.”
I talked to my older daughter about it one night last week. “My childhood hero is ruined,” I told her. When she asked what I was talking about, I told her about the alleged attacks. She responded with a resounding “Noooo!,” followed by “Bill Cosby killed my childhood!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Little Bill!” she responded, referring to a cartoon television series produced by Bill Cosby that she watched when she was a little girl.
“I know what you mean,” I said, thinking about Cliff and Claire Huxtable, the Best Parents in the World.
We were sold a product: Fat Albert, Cliff Huxtable, Little Bill, and Bill Cosby the comedian and movie star were all characters full of charm and wit and comedy– not mean spirited comedy either, but comedy that warmed the center of your heart. It was funny and family friendly.
And it’s hard to accept that one of the Best Parents in the World wasn’t real, and Bill Cosby’s true personality was vastly inferior to the characters he played on screen. If the rumors are true, he is a despicable person who not only spoiled his own legacy but the lives of the women he victimized. What a shame.