This Day in Black History: Sept. 20, 1984

The first episode of The Cosby Show aired.

Posted: 09/20/2013 12:15 AM EDT

The Cosby Show was television’s biggest hit in the 1980s, according to TV Guide magazine. For eight seasons, the television situation comedy riveted the nation with the experiences of the Huxtable family, an upper middle-class African-American family living in Brooklyn, New York.

The show featured comedian Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad and five actors who played their children. The show is widely credited for changing perceptions of African-American life and for opening doors for a broader range of shows depicting Black life.

The show was rated No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive seasons. It was criticized by some for portraying only a certain portion of the African-American population. On the other hand, it was widely praised for breaking traditional racial stereotypes and for portraying African-Americans who were educated and successful.

The program rarely dealt overtly with racial themes. However, it frequently was a showcase for African-American and African culture, featuring artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Lena Horne and Miriam Makeba.

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(Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

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