I need to get something off my chest. I’m sorry but I just have to say it. I love The Cosby Show. And while we’re at it, I love some Woody Allen films. I know, I know, I just did it. I just named not one, but two, of the ‘he who shall not be named.’ Put an arrow in my back, condemn me to cyber attack, I don’t care. I’m tired of not talking about things I want to talk about.
Besides, this article isn’t even about them. Have we really become that sensitive that just because we hate the leading men of a show, we can no longer talk about any part of it? That we can no longer reference it without it becoming something else? That we’re just supposed to forget it ever existed?
That seems extreme and well, a little unfair. What about the people who also worked on that show for years? What about the other actors and actresses who dedicated themselves to that show, that job? What about the men and women who produced it, shot it, toiled away for it? Why should they have their history wiped out? Why can’t we still appreciate them?
We can and we will right now by talking about Phylicia Rashad, or rather, her incredible portrayal of my favorite character in television history, a woman who epitomizes strength and sass and recites monologues of pure gold that one can only hope for the day they are yelled at by Mrs. Clair Huxtable.
You are one lazy child, you do not want to work and it’s not because you’re afraid to fail. I thinks it because you’re afraid you’re going to succeed and then people will expect you to do well all the time and you’ll have to work all the time. — Clair Huxtable (A Different World, Clair’s Last Stand, season 1, episode 19)
I guess the reason I want to talk about this is because motherhood is on my mind. I’m not exactly ready to get pregnant, but I’m attune to it. And I pick up not just on babies, but the people who are raising them. I’m looking for examples of the type of mother I want to be. I’m trying to see if there’s someone to mold myself after.
Of course, I always wanted to be a ‘cool mom’. You know, the laid-back mother, the fun mom. The Lorelai Gilmore of the mothering world. But Lorelai Gilmore wasn’t a great mom and when I re-watch episodes of Gilmore Girls I think what I really wanted was to have her as a mom. Because, well, she was cool.
But I know I won’t be like that. I’m anal and a bit neurotic and considering I tell my 19-year-old sister to change her outfit before going out, I think I may just be a bit strict. And that used to scare me until I remembered Clair.
She runs the household, disciplines the kids, and brings home the bacon. She is the matriarch, the hustler, the caretaker. She tries her best to raise her kids with a strong sense of morality and independence. And when I’m watching portrayals of mothers on TV, that’s refreshing, especially for 80s. She’s not cool, she’s not laid back, if anything, she’s a bit uptight. But she loves her kids and she knows who she is and the type of people she wants to raise.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “She [Phylicia Rashad] recalls modeling Clair’s character on two women she admired: a former neighbor who became a state supreme court judge, and a family friend who worked with disabled people.”
“They were both given to service, they loved music, and loved to dance and laugh. Both loved their husbands and adored their children, and were fierce about it,” she says.
This isn’t about how one woman should or shouldn’t raise their children. There is no one right way. This is more about appreciating a woman who gave us an honest, realistic example of what raising children may be like – not always glamorous and sometimes, a bit scary.
When she lectures her daughter’s boyfriend on gender roles
You see I am not serving Dr. Huxtable, okay? That’s the kind of thing that goes on in a restaurant. Now, I am going to bring him a cup of coffee just like he brought me a cup of coffee this morning. And that, young man, is what marriage is made of.
When Vanessa lies and goes to a rock concert
You have taken us from levels of frenzy, panic, distress, and, now that we know you’re okay, RAGE. That’s where we are right now Vanessa. We are in rage.
When Vanessa tries to go to a party with college students
Well I might as well be living in a prison!
Don’t worry about it, one day you’ll have children and you’ll have a lifetime sentence.
When Denis gives her attitude
If you ever take this attitude with us again, you can take whatever is in that bank account of yours and go discover America
When she overhears Theo’s friend talk about women on their periods
You tell them that a woman is entitled to have a mood, any mood, a happy mood, a sad mood, an angry mood, and she can have this mood whenever she likes and it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Aunt Flo is visiting.
When she needs a break
Does it ever occur to anyone around here that I might have needs of my own?