‘Golden dads’ gone wrong
Josh Dulany | Friday, October 31, 2014
My family has watched every episode of only four TV series. Two of those are “7th Heaven” and “The Cosby Show.” I’ve seen literally every episode of each series at least once and most of them two or three times.
My family watches their holiday episodes each Christmas, and we can quote and laugh hysterically over numerous memorable lines and moments. Dr. Cliff Huxtable and Rev. Eric Camden were constant and recurring parts of my childhood. Until recently, this would have been no big deal and likely rather normal. All of the sudden, though, things have gotten complicated.
Stephen Collins (Reverend Camden) and Bill Cosby (Dr. Huxtable) have been in the news the last few weeks for all the wrong reasons, Collins for alleged molestation of a child and Cosby for alleged rape. The truth around the allegations is still sorting itself out, but both stars’ reputations are doubtlessly marred.
Networks have pulled re-runs of “7th Heaven” and Cosby has been pulled from upcoming talk show appearances. Storming clouds of allegations that paint their public image in a repulsive new light suddenly surround two of America’s “golden dads.” Making it all the more disgusting is the way each seemed to exploit the stardom their roles provided. Both allegedly leveraged their influence as recognizable television-father figures to take advantage of their victims.
For me, as both a student studying television and a young man that grew up laughing at and learning from these two men, I cannot help but wonder how to separate reality from television.
Is it alright to laugh at Dr. Huxtable and listen to Rev. Camden when their portrayers seemed to have so greatly corrupted everything for which the characters stand? Can my family enjoy a holiday episode of “7th Heaven” without feeling guilty? Can we laugh at a “Cosby Show” quote without feeling repulsed?
I’m not sure. Certainly right now, as the allegations pick up steam, it is hard to imagine watching either show without feeling conflicted or just being lost in the cruel hypocrisy of it all. Maybe, with time, some of those feelings will fade. But maybe they never should.
I love “7th Heaven” and “The Cosby Show“ and treasure all the memories they have given me and my family, but I hate the way that Cosby and Collins have disgraced themselves and not only tainted their own legacies, but have allegedly done irreparable damage to their victims.
Rev. Camden and Dr. Huxtable have done nothing wrong. Yet, just as the characters often transcended TV and were a real part of my life, now reality ruins the TV shows. The actions of Collins and Cosby cannot be ignored or escaped. Dr. Huxtable and Rev. Camden wouldn’t watch their own shows after such actions, and I can’t watch either.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.