The Cosby Show: Audiences, Impact, and Implications

The Cosby Show: Audiences, Impact, and Implications

The Cosby Show: Audiences, Impact, and Implications

The Cosby Show: Audiences, Impact, and Implications

Synopsis

This volume chronicles the phenomenon of a television program that has commanded first place since its premiere in September 1984. Each week in the United States it has consistently drawn a loyal audience of more than 60 million people, breaking all records for ratings and shares. The show is credited with lifting a third-place network into commanding leadership, advancing the image of black families, being the object of the greatest syndication barter deal in history, and regenerating the sitcom genre. Approached from a systems-theoretical perspective, this book considers The Cosby Show historically, economically, politically, legally, and socioculturally.

Excerpt

Instead of using the words "impact" and "implications," the subtitle of this book could just as easily have suggested the images and illusions of The Cosby Show in addition to its immense audience. In its chronicling of a television program that has dominated the ratings since its premiere in 1984, this work systematically describes how both the show's star and staff have been instrumental in determining its phenomenal success.

This project was initiated from a marketing perspective as an investigation of how The Cosby Show was originally sold to the networks and how it has since become NBC's principal marketing tool. From the start, the working thesis has been that, through both television programming and advertising, Bill Cosby has simultaneously used and been used by the media. For that original study, a content analysis was performed on media coverage of The Cosby Show (see Appendix), demonstrating the show's widespread popularity. Nearly every major newspaper and magazine in the United States has featured articles dealing with the show; many magazines have used the famous Cosby face on their covers to sell issues.

Bill Cosby appeared on the cover of the Black magazines about . . . time (Adolph Dupree) and Ebony (Lynn Norment) in, respectively, January and June 1985. Jet, another Black publication, has frequent articles on Cosby, but its last cover story predates the show: May 31, 1982. Ladies' Home Journal (Alex Haley) and Life (Brad Darrach) both featured the star for their June 1985 covers. Newsweek ran Cosby:
He's No. 1
(Harry F. Waters) on September 2, 1985, whereas Time (Richard Zoglin) waited nearly two years to produce Cosby, Inc. on September 28, 1987; Time included a secondary article (Dan Goodgame) crediting Cosby help, entitled I Do Believe in Control. Both the Saturday Evening Post (Todd Klein) and US (JamesMcBride . . .

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