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Black Television TravelsAfrican American Media around the Globe$
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Timothy Havens

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814737200

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814737200.001.0001

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The Cosby Show, Family Themes, and the Ascent of White Situation Comedies Abroad in the Late 1980s

The Cosby Show, Family Themes, and the Ascent of White Situation Comedies Abroad in the Late 1980s

Chapter:
(p.79) 3 The Cosby Show, Family Themes, and the Ascent of White Situation Comedies Abroad in the Late 1980s
Source:
Black Television Travels
Author(s):

Timothy Havens

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814737200.003.0004

This chapter examines the worldwide phenomenon of The Cosby Show, particularly, how the growing internationalization of US syndication markets increased the variety of programs and genres traveling worldwide, along with industry explanations about why they failed or succeeded. The Cosby Show enacted a reclamation of the African American family and its access to the American Dream at a time when rap music began highlighting male poverty, criminality, and conservative racial discourses focused on the antisocial behaviors of street thugs and “welfare queens.” The series' global success led to a popular perception among industry insiders that African American series with “strong family themes” could overcome the supposed insularity of African American culture. The Cosby Show also marks the development of a coherent transnational industry lore regarding the audience appeal and proper institutional labors of African American television programs abroad.

Keywords:   The Cosby Show, US syndication markets, African American family, criminality, welfare queens, African American culture, transnational industry lore

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