The Carmichael Show's Bill Cosby Debate: Does 'Talent Trump Morals'?

The Carmichael Show on Sunday dedicated an entire episode to debating the merit of Bill Cosby‘s talent as an as actor and comedian amid recent charges of aggravated indecent assault.

In the aptly titled “Fallen Heroes,” Jerrod returned home with four tickets to take Maxine and his parents to a nearby Cosby performance. While Maxine quipped that “the ironic part is you’d have to knock me unconscious to see him,” Jerrod argued that it might be the comedian’s farewell tour (“who knows how long he’ll be alive… or free!”), and that they should go while they still had the chance.

For Jerrod, the polarizing figure was more than just an alleged predator sweeping headlines. Growing up, he said, The Cosby Show brought his family together and taught him that people who looked like him could grow up to become successful college graduates. Whether or not his childhood idol was a monster was insignificant until a court of law could officially declare his guilt. Joe defended his son’s argument, insisting that it wasn’t for the Internet to decide whether the comic should be imprisoned. Bobby, on the other hand, was simply confused about whether it was OK to continue listening to Chris Brown (or any singer with the last name Brown for that matter — i.e. James, Bobby, etc).

In Jerrod’s eyes, Maxine, a self-proclaimed fan of Michael Jackson and Woody Allen, was a hypocrite for disavowing Cosby but not the late Grammy winner or acclaimed film director, each of whom have been accused of molesting children but whose art continues to be celebrated. He used this example to support his declaration that “talent trumps morals” in his defense of Cosby, and ultimately wound up attending the comedian’s performance on his own.

Upon his return, Jerrod admitted to feeling uncomfortable at the show, unsure of when to laugh or if it was at all appropriate to be there. One last attempt to blame Maxine for ruining his role model caused her to respond with the most rational statement of the night: “It’s not your fault or mine, it’s his.” The family then decided to sit down and watch one last episode of The Cosby Show together before quitting it cold turkey, reminiscing about their favorite storylines, but not the tarnished comedian.

Were you over- or underwhelmed by The Carmichael Show‘s Bill Cosby debate? Take our poll, then sound off in the comments.


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. JB says:

    Seems sad the NBC, in an attempt to stay relevant, has to revert to exploiting the fall of one of its greatest stars.

    • peterwdawson says:

      Hard to say if it’s the network or not since Jerrod Carmichael seems to have a fair bit of creative control in his show. Really as an attempt to explore the downfall of a guy who is probably legit one of his idols could be a personal thing for him. Now how well he explored and such, that’s another matter…

  2. Sally McLinn says:

    Sorry, but I don’t find this show funny.

  3. peterwdawson says:

    Ah, death of the author, the age old debate. Never an easy answer, really.

  4. Morisot says:

    There is social and historical context that seems totally ignored——– but the “free love” , sexual liberation, LSD , “hippies” , “groupies” , drug culture , clubbing — WERE Cosby’s time . Movies like Same Time Next Year, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, 9 to 5 give some perspective on the way sex was looked at during that time too. The sex in James Bond movies isn’t love or respect ! A famous basketball player proud of his 2000 sexual conquests. But do, especially, look at a reliable/trustworthy site’s entry about the history of the “casting couch” (right up to the present time) for some perspective .

    (Not condoning; not judging; not condemning — just suggesting that if you didn’t live through those times — maybe you don’t know .)

    And to me, Bill Cosby is a great comedian and a good actor who was on the cutting edge of major cultural changes in Television.

    • Jen says:

      you cant bring “free love”, sexual liberation, hippies, etc…into this at all. The women Cosby is accused of drugging, were just that -drugged. They were given drugs without their knowledge or consent. They weren’t participating in a free love movement, they were victims of a manipulator and predator.

    • Wayne Tunks says:

      There’s a very big difference between rape and free love, it’s called consent and it is the most important element of sex!

    • Morisot says:

      You can’t say “Don’t bring this or that into it !” Men’s viewpoints and women’s viewpoints are shaped by all this — movies, sports, TV, media, instagram, im’s. selfies — and employment and power! It’s all pressure. You would rob women of the power of knowledge? You have to let women (and girls!) realize that the more they know — the better they can face what is really out there — and have the tools and strength not only to say “NO” ! — but maybe to realize sooner what might be a dangerous situation.

      • Annie says:

        And we need to be educating our men and young boys on what consent is and how to not be a bystander and how to call out other boys/men for perpetuating rape culture.

    • G says:

      Context is certainly something to consider (and isn’t talked about enough with regards to this case), but only to understand the blurred lines that culture once applauded. His actions are not the result of sexual liberation and hippies getting high. They are the result of a troubling culture of men feeling entitlement over the female body, and culture framing (and celebrating) masculinity as the taking and possessing of women.

      Bond, however, is an apt example: A man who, to this day, is revered, though many of his films almost exclusively feature him pushing himself on women until they submit.

      But even with this context, we must consider the lengths taken. Even in the 70s, Polanski’s actions were considered extreme, and his was one case and not an entire lifetime of accusations. This goes well beyond the man “kissing her until she likes it” mentality that ran rampant in Cosby’s earlier days. It’s about incapacitating and raping women.

      At the end of the day, it’s wise to not forget just how different life was not too long ago, and that today’s disgusting was yesterday’s ideal. But this case goes so very far beyond that.

      • Morisot says:

        Blurred lines — very apt.

        (Maybe I think life is like a trek through the jungle — beautiful, even thrilling — but there can be real danger —and you have to be wary and aware.) And I’m not trying to condone any criminal or crime. Just trying to see the conditions along the paths.

  5. Jbj says:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to just take works as they are and not put the artists on pedestals?

    I never even heard of Chris Brown before he assulted Rhianna (who I wasn’t particularly a fan of anyway). For whatever messed up reason, they reunited to write and perform “Stay” (which I happen to like a lot). That hasn’t changed my general opinion of her, and he continues to be a terrible person. Their respective awfulness might temper my enjoyment when I listen to it, but it doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to do so. Of course, I’d never go to one of their concerts, even if someone else was paying.

  6. Joyce Okoth says:

    It was handled beautifully. They talked about everything I have felt. Growing up watching The Cosby show made an impact on my life. Something to aspire to. So when you hear the accusations, you (well at least me) feel torn. Shun the man and not his work?

  7. TV Gord says:

    I love this show! Topical AND funny! That’s my cup o’ tea.

  8. Phyliss King says:

    I loved the episode. I felt like Jarrod. I still have mix feelings about Bill Crosby. But, I still will not forget the greatness of the man and now I see the weakness of the man