Searching for a Contemporary 'Cosby Show'

Washington Post writer Reniqua Allen wonders where this decade's Cosby Show might be.

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Cosby Show cast in 2011 (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Having grown with The Cosby Show, Washington Post writer Reniqua Allen argues that these days, there's more multicultural casting in television and far fewer stories rooted in telling a multicultural story.

Instead of a real look at black culture, Hispanic culture or any specific culture, we get "uniculture." That's how Felicia Henderson, creator of the Showtime series "Soul Food" and a newly minted executive producer of a BET family sitcom "Reed Between the Lines," describes much of our current television universe. Henderson, who has served as a writer and producer for shows such as "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Gossip Girl" and "Fringe," says the major networks often show diverse casts, but not true cultural differences. "I celebrate multicultural casting, but my concern is that these shows and these characters are only physically multicultural, physically multiethnic," she says.

Network TV does feature sitcoms and dramas that attempt to talk about race and difference. For better or worse, some even make it a punch line, with race and ethnicity exaggerated for comic effect. We also see shows with black female leads, ABC's "Scandal" and NBC's upcoming drama "Infamous," along with mixed-race casts. But the worlds they pretend to inhabit are not ones in which anyone really lives. It's one TV cultural universe, with no room for ethnic difference, even among ethnic characters.

Read Reniqua Allen's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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