The Cosby Show remains to this day one of the most positive and sophisticated portrayals of an African-American family on TV, it managed to avoid the negative stereotypes associated with African-Americans in the media, choosing instead to focus on the educated upper middle-class Huxtable family, dramatically altering the image of Blacks as poor, downtrodden but happy go lucky clowns, moving its audience towards a more realistic perception of African-American life. Paving the way for shows such as Fresh Prince of Bell Air, and more varied African-American roles on TV.
Staring Bill Cosby as Heathcliff Huxtable, a respected doctor, and Phylicia Rashad as his wife Clair Huxtable, a successful lawyer, The Cosby Show broke stereotypes by featuring a strong father figure and a strong nuclear family, who dealt with day to day issues, like how to raise their children properly; getting your kids to eat veg for example; a son dealing with dyslexia, and teen pregnancy amongst others. By dealing with everyday challenges of raising children, that every family across America could relate to, it helped to redefine America's racial views, to the point where it was possible for Barack Obama to be successfully elected as President twice.
While it did touch on issues of race, and featured an almost all Black cast, The Cosby Show didn't let the race of its main characters dominate the show, they are just like any white affluent family, in fact it is often said that you could have replaced the cast with white actors and the comedy would have still worked, except they were proudly African-American. However criticism of the show is that because it focused on a upper class family it didn't truly represent the African-American experience as it focused on a small minority.
It's huge popularity during the 1980s, the show ran from 1984-1992 and was the number 1 show in America for its first 5 seasons, helped to bring positive visions of African-Americans into the media, almost totally eliminating the negative stereotypes of the past on TV and helped to challenge America's racial views, leading to the more progressive society of 2014.