Watching a comedy sitcom like The Cosby Show is a great way to unwind from a stressful day at work. The show's characters are likeable and the storyline is humorous, but halfway through the program I usually turn the television off and return to the kitchen to wash the dinner dishes. Watching The Cosby Show makes me feel guilty. The Huxtables are too perfect. Their house is too perfect. In comparison to the Huxtables I feel like an unfit mother in a slovenly, dysfunctional family. The characters on The Cosby Show should be portrayed in a more realistic manner; in fact, the program could be far more entertaining, not to mention relaxing, if certain aspects of the program such as weekday mornings, sibling quarrels and housework were made more believable.

To begin with, mornings are just too perfect at the Huxtables' house. In the kitchen the table is set; fresh flowers are in a vase, and milk is in a glass pitcher. The entire Huxtable family is simultaneously dressed and ready in clean, ironed, co-ordinated clothes. Everyone's hair is perfect and Mrs. Huxtable's makeup is flawless. The Huxtables even eat breakfast together. The family is relaxed, in a cheerful mood, and politely taking turns discussing their schedules for the day. The children have their lunches made, their shoes on, and their bookbags ready. And if that is not enough, Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable never have to hunt for their car keys.

On the other hand, my family's day begins in complete chaos. To begin with, my kids never agree as to whose turn it is to set the table. My kids would rather go hungry than perform a chore that could possibly be someone else's. I cannot afford fresh flowers and I have never owned a glass pitcher. Next, my family is never ready together or on time for that matter because of the time spent looking for shoes, ironing clothes and fighting over hot rollers. If I do happen to be in the kitchen with my kids, I am in a ratty bathrobe, hair half- set, and mascara on only one eye. I am making last minute lunches, slurping coffee and ignoring my husband's bellowing for someone to bring another roll of toilet paper to him in the upstairs bathroom. My kids and my husband never discuss their daily plans with me; they enjoy adding a little suspense to my day.

Another farfetched scene from The Cosby Show is Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable's mediation of sibling quarrels. When a quarrel begins Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable are usually sitting on the couch with nothing better to do than anticipate a problem. The children come down and rationally explain the problem and their side of the story. If there is any name calling, the children use harmless words like "stupid" and "meanie." Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. Huxtable serenely listen to each child's point of view. With infinite patience they wisely mediate a truce with a brilliant compromise acceptable to both sides. Everyone is happy; the problem is solved.

On the contrary, in my family we do not have quarrels; we have combat situations which erupt at the most inopportune times such as when I'm plunging a toilet and my husband is under his car. The cause of the problem and the kids' points of view are irrelevant to us because my husband and I are dodging airborne objects. Preventing physical injuries is our primary mission. With battle cries like "dork-vomit" and "sewer-breath" raging in the background, compromise during the mediation of the fight seems unimportant to either my husband or me. Consequently, as Commander-in-Chief I issue an irrational order which always leaves one kid gloating and prancing while the other kid is scowling, stomping and plotting revenge.

Last, the Huxtable's house is far too perfect to be inhabited by children. The tables gleam; the floors shine. The rugs are not littered with shoes, books, and toys. I have never seen anyone in The Cosby Show do housework or laundry, yet I have never seen a pile of dirty clothes; the Huxtables do not seem to have a maid. In contrast I go to Herculean efforts to keep the Health Department from knocking on my door. I do not have time to dust. When I'm not picking up shoes, washing clothes, and screaming for anyone to vacuum, I'm on my hands and knees scraping goo off the floor with a butter knife.

I always wonder who does the housework on The Cosby Show. Perhaps the Huxtables are naturally perfect, and we are natural slobs by comparison. Nevertheless, when I watch television I do not want to feel guilty. I want to relax and laugh at others in realistic situations. Just one I would love to see Mrs. Huxtable wake up late, be unable to decide what to wear, scream at the kids, and have to call a taxi because she can't find her car keys.

--Kathleen Saunders

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