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Trivia / The Cosby Show

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  • Banned Episode: Thanks to the rape allegations, the whole show got this treatment on cable networks, including TVLand. It was not immediately known whether or not other programs starring Cosby are or will be included. However, at least on the Viacom-owned TVLand (and its related networks), mere references to The Cosby Show have been removed from the website altogether.note  After Cosby was sentenced to prison in 2018, Bounce TV, which started airing reruns after these allegations came to light, pulled the show from their schedule. As of this writing, reruns are still on TVOne, Amazon Prime and several ad-supported streaming services (like The Roku Channel and PopcornFlix) that carry other series from the Carsey-Werner catalog.
    • However, while TVOne continues to air the show, it does skip over some episodes that may rub some viewers to wrong way! I.E., the infamous barbecue episode.
  • Contractual Purity: Lisa Bonet after her controversial appearance in the movie Angel Heart, in which she appeared nude and had a squicky sex scene.
  • The Danza: One episode near the end of season 1 has Tony Orlando guest starring as Tony Castillo. The episode, in fact, was a Poorly Disguised Pilot.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • With Sondra, who was 20 during the first season. Sabrina LeBeauf, who played her, almost didn't get the role because she was 26, only 10 years younger than Phylicia Rashad.
    • Averted by most of the other kids. When the show started, Lisa Bonet (Denise) was 16, Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo) was 14, Tempestt Bledsoe (Vanessa) was 11, Keshia Knight Pulliam (Rudy) was 5 and later addition Raven-Symoné (Olivia) was 3; everyone's actual age was also their age on the show. Erika Alexander (Pam), on the other hand, was 21; Pam was supposed to be 16.
    • Inverted in the case of Clair. Phyllicia Rashad (nee Ayers-Allen) was 36 during the first season while Bill Cosby was 47. Cliff and Clair were supposedly only about four years apart at most.
    • Also inverted with Russell Huxtable. Earle Hyman, who played him, was only ten years Bill Cosby's senior despite playing his father. He was nine years younger than Clarice Taylor, who played his wife Anna. Some dialogue implied him to be at least the same age as she if not older.
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  • Directed by Cast Member: Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo) directed five episodes.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Phylicia Rashad was visibly pregnant for much of season 3, and the writers ended up having her baby bump obscured by various props (most notably having Clair hold a giant teddy bear for no explainable in-universe reason).
    • Bill Cosby hilariously lampshades this in some behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes where he continually pointed out the baby belly and even planned to have a car in the living room to hide it in one episode.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: For a brief period of time, the series was completely pulled from syndication due to the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby. However, this has only been brief; reruns can now be regularly seen on Bounce and TVOne as of April 2017.
    • However as of April 2018 Bounce TV has announced it will again pull reruns after Cosby was ruled guilty of all charges that same month.
  • Old Shame: Not the show itself, but at least three of the actors did say they wonder how they ever could have liked the fashions of The '80s that are all over the place in it. Tempestt Bledsoe really spoke up about this in the Lookback Special given the fact that the actors didn't have a lot of say in their wardrobe and Vanessa's hairstyles in the first half of season 5 look utterly ridiculous today.
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  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Despite not really appearing more than when they were guest stars, Sabrina LeBeauf (Sondra), Geoffrey Owens (Elvin) and Joseph C. Phillips (Martin) all found their way into the opening titles. Also happened with Raven-Symone (Olivia) and Erika Alexander (Pam), but in their cases it was very shortly after their introductions, and they both started appearing almost more often than established characters.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Phylicia Rashad's sister Debbie Allen as a sadistic aerobics instructor.
    • Phylicia's then-husband Ahmad Rashad could be heard on several episodes announcing sporting events. At the time, Ahmad was a commentator for NBC Sports.
  • Shoot the Money: The Season 3 finale/A Different World backdoor pilot "Hillman" was shot at Spelman College in Atlanta.
  • Throw It In!:
    • Bill often kept the camera rolling when his many child co-stars would make mistakes because he felt it was funnier that way. In general, there was a lot of ad-libbing that made it into the final cut of each episode. Examples include:
    • Rudy's friend Peter was never supposed to be silent. The child actor froze once he was on camera and Bill took the opportunity to turn the character into the Silent Bob.
    • Then there was the episode where he was taking care of Sondra and Elvin's twins. They would continually look up at the obvious stage lights. Bill played off on it as if the babies kept staring into space. One of the babies spit-up in the very same episode but Bill cleaned the baby up and kept going.
    • One episode was to just show Cliff making a meal, and Cosby turned it into an extended bit lampooning Julia Child.
    • Early seasons had Rudy forgetting her lines, so Bill Cosby just spoke them for her and kept going.
    • One actor continually rendered "Doctor Huxtable" as "Doxtor Husstable". It simply became a trait of his character.
      • "And tell him my name is Hux-table."
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Theo was actually supposed to be the main character of the show. The show, past the pilot, ended up being reworked into being about the entire Cosby family. By the end of the series though, Theo still arguably got the most development of the five kids, and the series Book-Ends with his graduation from college.
    • Whitney Houston was considered for the role of Sondra, but she passed on the role to concentrate on her music career.
    • Originally, the character of Rudy Huxtable was intended to be a boy, rather than a girl. However, the casting directors could not find a suitable boy to play the part, so auditions were extended to girls as well.
      • Jaleel White was reportedly confirmed to play the youngest child before Cosby settled on the character being a girl.
    • Initially, the show was originally pitched to ABC, since executive producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner had previously worked there as programmers. ABC, however, turned the show down for three reasons: they felt that a wealthy African-American sitcom would be unrealistic, not many sitcoms at the time featured stand up comedians in the lead role, and finally, the sitcom in general was considered a dying genre at the time. NBC, on the other hand, picked the show up instead and scored a major windfall in the process. Alternatively, however, some accounts claim that Bill Cosby actually devised the show for NBC right off the bat at the request of then NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff, who had happened to tune in to an episode of The Tonight Show guest-hosted by Cosby while he and his wife, Lilly, were taking care of their sick daughter, Calla, and was immediately struck with awe over Cosby's opening monologue, which centered around observations of his family life.
    • Cosby initially suggested the family be working-class, with the father a limo driver and the mother an electrician.
    • Malcolm Jamal-Warner almost didn't get the role of Theo. In his first audition, he behaved like the typical sitcom child of the time and had everyone but Bill Cosby laughing. Bill asked him, "Is that how you would talk to your real father?" and had him try again with that in mind, earning him the role.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Joseph C. Phillips played a potential boyfriend for Sondra in a Season 2 episode, then returns as Denise's husband beginning in Season 6.
    • David Langston Smyrl played three different roles before settling into his third and final role as Mr. Lucas the handyman. It should be noted that all three of his characters were attracted to Clair.
    • Vanessa A. Williams, best known as Rhonda in the first series of Melrose Place, first appeared as the Large Ham Jade in season 5, then returned as Cheryl, an exchange student from Barbados (which led to a fair amount of What the Hell Is That Accent? when the episodes aired there) and Theo's Love Interest for season 7.

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