Ronald Evans

Intro to Mass Communication

Professor Cirucci

October 31,2011



Whenever one thinks about African American Sitcoms, the first two that come to mind are "The Cosby Show" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air". Both shows took over television in the 1980's and 1990's, and each show brought a unique style to the table. In some cases, they are similar to each other. However, there are some differences between the two shows. But not every show can be the same as its counterpart.

"The Cosby Show" was created for all types of people to watch. Hardworking upper middle class citizens as well as African Americans. When the show first came out in 1984, barely anyone understood what the show was about. Well it was not that they did not understand. It is that the concept of it was not what most people had intended for a black television sitcom. Unlike shows of the past, like "Good Times", "The Jeffersons", and "Sanford and Son", "The Cosby Show" took place in a nice brownstone house with a very well educated African American male and female and their five children. It was definitly different from what people expected. The show ended up getting a lot of criticisum for many reasons. One reason was that the show was giving blacks that where not in the Huxtables situation false hope that that could one day be them. Another reason was because most black people did not think that the Huxtables were in there view black because they lived in a nice house with money, and simple because they were not ghetto. However, in the end it does not matter, because these same people obviously watch the show. According to Jhally and Lewis "The Cosby Show is seen either as socially progessive or as an apology for a racist system that disadvantages most black people".


The ascept of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" was a little bit different. Sure you have the Banks, who are have a little more money than the Huxtables. And in most views of black people are even less black than the Huxtables. The only reason, in my point of view, that the show got a pass by black people is because like I said you have the Banks, but then you have Will Smith. His character in the show protrayed to the typical stereotypes of African Americans. He is a black kid from the streets of West Philadelphia who's mom flew him out to his rich realitives so he can get out the hood and move on to a better life. And once he gets up there, he turns their quiet lifestyle into his loud and noisy lifestyle. Unlike "The Cosby Show", people knew what to expect from this show. They were already uses to the Huxtables, and they were uses the older more ghetto black sitcoms. "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air gave everybody the best of both worlds.

What makes "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "The Cosby Show" similar is that one they both are two black sitcoms that air on primetime television. The plot of each show takes place in a nice house in a respectful neighborhood with well rounded families. Obviously another reason is because they are comedies. But another reason, in my point of view, is that each show is trying to send a message saying you do not have to live up to the stereotype. There are wealthy, well-educated, and non-ghetto African Americans out there in the world. And if you put your mind to it you could be one of those people. Now the differences that I see between each show is that one show attacks issues that happen in everyday society while the other one does not. "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air tackles a lot of issues in today's society. From racism to drug abuse to gun violence. This show has hit almost everything. From what I know, "The Cosby Show tended to stay away from that and stuck to talking about everyday family issues. Issues such as a bad grade on their childrens report card, or an all grown up child claiming they are ready to get married. Issues like that. And it is not a bad thing, that is just the way the producers wanted to script this particular show. And that is what makes it different from "The Fresh Prince".

In conclusion, Both "The Cosby Show" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" have there simliarities has well has there differences. But at the end of the day they are both great African American sitcoms that everybody of any races and any lifestyle can enjoy. I have not heard one person yet say that they cannot sit down and watch "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air", or sit down and watch 'The Cosby Show". They both really infromative, entertaining, and halarious shows. They must of been real good because they still show re-runs of both shows on multiple television channels. To reiterate what I said before, "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "The Cosby Show" are the first two sitcoms people think of when they think about African American sitcoms.



Jhally and Lewis "Enlightened Racism"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fresh_Prince_of_Bel-Air