This quintessential '80s sitcom left its mark on generations of TV fans, both for its astonishing ratings (it was No. 1 for five straight seasons, something only All in the Family can match) and its groundbreaking format, which took a well-known comedian (Bill Cosby) and incorporated him into the fabric of an African-American family structure. The result struck a chord with viewers -- among them some young comedians and actors who would later use The Cosby Show for inspiration and their own success (The Bernie Mac Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In Living Color, The Simpsons, Mad TV). It ran on NBC from 1984 to 1992.
Its premise revolves around the wholesome, upper-class Huxtable Family: obstetrician Heathcliff Huxtable, otherwise known as "Cliff"; his lawyer wife, Clair; and their children -- Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa and Rudy. They reside in a brownstone at 10 Stigwood Ave. in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Cliff and Clair both nurture and resist their kids' nuances, maturity, and individual interests. Along the road to adulthood, the children deal with life lessons like dating, marriage, college, and independence. Every episode of the sitcom is full of Cosby's ingenious, classic storytelling as he guides (and admittedly occasionally bumbles) through the daily journeys of a father's life. Oh yeah, and he wears a lot of crazy sweaters.