Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bernie Mac and Cosby...Something In Common

On a recent road trip I brought breakfast for 5 at Cracker Barrel and encountered a Box Set of the first season of the Cosby Show. We weren't making good time, we had already stopped twice, and I figured the DVD's couldn't hurt. The fact that they were $14.99 didn't hurt either, so I decided to give them a chance and test out the kids interest. We have success!

The fact that I found the Cosby show at a rural Indiana Cracker Barrel speaks to what happens when stores are caught behaving badly...all of sudden there are opportunities that never existed before. Cracker Barrel isn't the only culprit, there are a variety of restaurants and stores tired of being sued, so they have embraced, well tolerated, diversity. No, not really. It's all about the bottom line...and in this case I believe, great move.

My 4, 6 and 8 year old have practically memorized the season 1 episodes, inquiring dutifully about whether my husband and I would respond the same way or wanting to know where are they now. I have had several discussions about the role that the Cosby Show played in the formative years of many, many children...when I also thought about the less talked about side of the show. Cosby was not the perfect husband off screen, Claire ended up with a real life divorce, Vanessa struggled to have a career thereafter, and poor Denise went from nude vixen to recluse. None of it takes anything away from what they did magically on screen.

Fast forward, to when I learned of the death of Bernie Mac. I heard many stories about his comedy routines. I know that he gained much fame from those legendary shows - but it is not what I will remember him for. When I think about shows that I can watch with my children, the Cosby Show isn't the only one. The Bernie Mac Show had me laughing out loud more than once as a parent, as I sat with my children and cracked up over the plot of the day. With a particular affection for Vanessa, I remember being so thankful to see a beautiful dark brown child on screen, a comfort to my daughter. I think to myself about the numerous episodes that revolved around private school, fitting in, trying to make the team, etc. and the issues parallel my universe as a parent. I have a lot of respect for the writing, the stories and the family life that was on screen - and will add Season 1 to my video library as my own Bernie Mac tribute.

For some reason I think I was more reluctant to forgive Bernie Mac's missteps - like the Ho joke at an Obama fundraiser. I'm not sure why, because based on the criteria I try to use in guiding my family entertainment and investment - he surely fits the bill. Beyond adult entertainment, his television show touched many a family with current scenarios and challenges ripe for laughs and discussion. He was a devoted husband for 30 years, and while some play a good husband - I assume that some really are able to survive the Hollywood scrutiny. With 13 years of marriage under my belt, 30 speaks volumes of his life off screen, as well as on. And now, as I think about the shows that bring the most laughter to my children who memorize every word of every show they are allowed to watch...the Bernie Mac show will give us new fuel for trips, even those just down memory lane.

R.I.P. Bernie Mac 2008

"In order for us to live as a family, we need to set down a few 'house' rules. First rule: It's my house. Don't get me wrong, this is our home. But it's my house. Mi casa es mi casa. Second rule: In my house is all my stuff, and you are not to touch my stuff without my permission" -Bernie Mac

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