The actor spoke with People magazine for its Black History Month issue and discussed the show’s legacy following Cosby’s sexual assault scandal. “The Cosby Show” aired on NBC from 1984 through 1992 and won six Emmy Awards during its run.
Cosby played a doctor married to a lawyer on the series about the life of an American family. Warner played Cosby’s son on the show, Theo Huxtable.
Warner told the outlet he was “proud” of the groundbreaking show and noted its impact not only on Black culture but American culture.
“Regardless of how some people may feel about the show now,” said Warner, “I’m still proud of the legacy and having been a part of such an iconic show that had such a profound impact on — first and foremost, Black culture — but also American culture,” he explained.
“I know I can speak for all the cast when I say ‘The Cosby Show’ is something that we are all still very proud of,” he continued. “We share a unique experience that keeps us lovingly bonded no matter how much time goes between seeing or hearing from each other.”
Warner went on to say that the show dealt with universal issues and was relatable to people from all ethnic, socio-economic, and family backgrounds.
“What made it so groundbreaking was its universality. NBC initially saw it as a show about an upper-middle-class Black family,” he said. “Mr. Bill Cosby diligently impressed upon them that the show was about an upper-middle-class family that happened to be Black.”
“Prior to ‘The Cosby Show,’ Black sitcom humor was predicated on being Black, the specificity of the ‘Black’ experience. Though the Huxtables were clearly Black — reflected quite obviously by their dress, the Black art on the walls, the music — the family issues all were universal.”
“And though Cliff was a doctor and Claire was an attorney, the family dynamic was one that practically every family — no matter the ethnicity, socio-economic status or even family makeup — could find something to relate to.”
Cosby was accused of sexual assault by more than 60 women and was convicted in 2018 of drugging and raping former Temple University basketball player Andrea Constand in 2004.
He was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison and had served nearly three years before his conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2022.
Warner also noted that the show shattered stereotypes about Black people by showing realistic portrayals of the Black middle class.
“It certainly broadened the perspective of how the world viewed Black people,” recalled Warner. “While one of the initial criticisms of the show was that Black people didn’t live like the Huxtables, I was getting thousands of letters on the regular saying, ‘Thank you for this show.”
He added, “Our family is the Huxtables, my dad is a doctor, and my mom is a lawyer. The show shed light on the previously ignored Black middle class, which has always existed.”
Warner is still acting and recently appeared in an episode of the Fox drama, “Accused,” with actor Wendall Pierce. Warner played a man whose 10-year-old daughter was assaulted, and he is talked into getting revenge.