Malcolm-Jamal Warner was only 14 years old during the first season of The Cosby Show, but right away he was involved in some of the show’s most memorable scenes, specifically one PeopleTV’s Couch Surfing host Lola Ogunnaike refers to as “one of the funniest moments in television history.”
In a season 1 episode called “A Shirt Story,” Warner’s Theo Huxtable has a hilarious and iconic freak out after his sister tries to recreate a shirt he bought for a date but dad Cliff forces him to return because it’s too expensive.
While the cast knew the scene was hilarious during the table read, it wasn’t until they did it in front of a live audience, and saw their reaction, that Warner knew it was a hit.
“When the audience came in and we did it in front of the audience, their response is tucked into my socks,” he says.
While countless scenes from the series are engrained in American pop culture, Ogunnaike questioned its legacy following the many sexual misconduct claims against star Bill Cosby; a Pennsylvania judge sentenced him to 3 to 10 years in state prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting a former Temple University employee in his mansion in 2004.
“It can’t help but to be, because whenever we have instances where we talk about stereotypical images of people of color, we’ve always had The Cosby Show to hold juxtaposed against that,” Warner explains.
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Still, the actor and his costars cannot ignore the impact of the show.
“Keisha Pulliam did an interview, and her feelings were, the legacy could never be tarnished because there’s a generation of young people who went to school because of that show, who went to school and became doctors and lawyers because of that show, who went on to create beautiful and loving families because of that show. So, her thing was that there was so much good that the show did that cannot be undone,” he says. “I firmly stand with her on that account. There is so much that that show has done.”
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