The Cosby Show
Check out all of the posts from our Sisterhood Theme Week here.
Alcoholic Aunts, Homeless Cousins, and Depressed Dads: How Mental Illness Is Invisible in ‘The Cosby Show,’ ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,’ and Beyond
Black families can be rich and poor and everything in between on TV, but why can’t we show the mental health crises Black families face?
When Solomon, Eliza, and her two children are both sold, she is sold away from her children. Their new slave owner, William Ford, (Benedict Cumberbatch), feeling guilty when he hears Eliza’s sobs of protests, tries to buy the children, but the auctioneer refuses to sell the them. William Ford takes Solomon and a devastated Eliza to his plantation, where she continues to cry on the journey to the plantation. When Ford’s wife, Mistress Ford, hears of new slave Eliza’s plight she callously responds, “Oh poor thing, well she’ll get over it in a day or two.”
Gareth does not “happen to be Black”; the pressure on him to conform to white culture, to avoid limiting his own narrative, mirrors the show’s own need to conform to that culture, to avoid limiting its audience. This conflict is slyly embodied in plausibly deniable food metaphor.
Some questions to consider: What constitutes a Black family in film or on television? Are representations of these families realistic or true to life? What are audiences who consume this media intended to understand about Blackness or the Black experience? What kinds of stories are allowed to be told and which are still suppressed?
‘Love Jones’ does more than captures a moment in time in the late 90s. It creates the point when neo-soul established itself as the music of all of us with artistic inclinations, those of us leaving fantasies of teenage love affairs behind for a more realistic image of making a relationship work. And, yes, for some of us it brought about a sexual awakening that helped us accept that sex could exist outside a relationship if it’s truly wanted that way.