In our current #MeToo and Time’s Up world, more and more of our once beloved entertainers are facing the consequences of real-life villainous behavior. Bill Cosby, one of TV’s most prolific faces of his time, was recently found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault, bringing about a re-examination of the “art vs. artist” debate, especially for fans of The Cosby Show. One can certainily enjoy a Kanye West record and still be able to sleep at night, but what about an R.Kelly one? Or how about watching the recently cancelled Roseanne? Does Cosby’s outed behavior nullify everything his show accomplished? The answer to that is certainly subjective; it’s one I don’t know the answer to, nor will it be answered here.
Before Cosby became a pariah, he was known as “America’s Dad.” The Cosby Show followed Cliff and Clair Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) as they raised five children in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Cliff was an obstetrician while his other half was a lawyer; the family represented an upper-middle class black family in the grandest of lights. Not only were they successful professionally and financially, but the Huxtables were mostly care-free from oppression and other serious hardships. They were an educated family that was constantly portrayed as happy, offering lighthearted stories about friendship, marriage, gender-equality, and at times, learning disabilities, teen pregnancy, and the like. The show became a ratings powerhouse and quickly hit number one, representing millions of Americans who weren’t used to seeing themselves on TV, an aspect that makes reconciling Cosby’s charges that much more difficult. But as we all know, representation matters and The Cosby Show was hugely important and influential for that reason, among many.
On its own accord, The Cosby Show is still every bit as charming as it used to be. Here’s your guide to watch the show online and enjoy the entire series — including simple streaming info, cast actors and characters, and best seasons and episodes:
How to Watch The Cosby Show Online & Stream the Complete Series
In the United States, Amazon Prime is the only streaming service with every episode of The Cosby Show in its library. Here’s how to watch:
If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch every episode of The Cosby Show on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
If you don’t have Prime, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial here. Once signed up, you can watch every episode of The Cosby Show on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
NOTE: Spoilers to follow
How Many Seasons of The Cosby Show Are There?
Running from 1984-1992, there are eight seasons of The Cosby Show, totaling 201 episodes.
The Cosby Show Season 1
24 Episodes | September 1984 – May 1985
Season 1 introduces us to Clair and Cliff Huxtable along with their children Theo, Denise, Vanessa, Rudy and Sandra. Cliff, a doctor, and Clair, a lawyer, raise their kids in Brooklyn and traverse the tricky task of parenthood in a big city. Denise contemplates college, while Theo thinks he doesn’t need good grades to get a job. Cliff wins Physician of the Year, and later, hosts a raucous sleepover for eight with Rudy’s friends.
The Cosby Show Season 2
25 Episodes | September 1985 – May 1986
New opening credits feature the family dancing to a new jazzy theme, and the rest of the series follows suit with fun and funky openings. The children continue their school woes, while Sondra runs into troubles with her boyfriend Elvin. Denise shops for a car, while Rudy becomes star of her pee-wee football team, causing Clair to go into full manic Mom-mode. Vanessa tries to balance being boy-crazy with her studies.
The Cosby Show Season 3
25 Episodes | September 1986 – May 1987
A snake terrorizes the Huxtable home. A friend has a mild heart attack causing Clair to start policing Cliff’s eating. (No more sausage sandwiches!) Vanessa starts being rebellious and pushing the line, while Denise quickly learns that college isn’t an extension of high school. The family celebrates Cliff’s 50th birthday and also visits their alma mater, Hillman College.
The Cosby Show Season 4
24 Episodes | September 1987 – April 1988
Lisa Bonet (Denise) does not appear as a regular in Season 4 as she departs for the show’s spinoff series, A Different World. Theo feels uncomfortable visiting a friend with cancer, and later, he accidentally catches a corpse on a fishing trip. The family is forced to deal with the effects of media attention once the story breaks. It was a heavy year for Theo, but let’s face it—he liked the attention.
The Cosby Show Season 5
26 Episodes | October 1988 – May 1989
Cliff and Clair start looking forward to the eventual prospects of an empty nest, only to discover that Denise has dropped out of Hillman and Theo forgot to send in his rent check for his N.Y. dorm. Sondra and Elvin adapt to being the parents of twins.
The Cosby Show Season 6
26 Episodes | September 1989 – May 1990
Denise returns home from a jaunt in Africa and introduces her parents to her new husband and his three year old daughter, Olivia (Raven Symoné). Vanessa is caught drinking with her friends and her parents vow to teach her a lesson. Cliff has a nightmare that includes some terrifying Muppets, and Olivia can’t understand why she has to go to church when God wants her to go to the zoo instead.
The Cosby Show Season 7
26 Episodes | September 1990 – May 1991
Theo hires a stripper for Martin’s belated bachelor party, sparking a battle of the sexes in the Huxtable household. Erica Alexander (Living Single) joins the cast as Claire’s teenage cousin, and moves in with the family. Theo begins his psychology internship at a local community center, but the kids immediately test him. He soon finds out that helping people is far more important than his image, and he helps out a young kid who he suspects has dyslexia just like him.
The Cosby Show Season 8
25 Episodes | September 1991 – April 1992
Vanessa comes home from college and announces her engagement (shocker: it doesn’t last). Theo considers taking a job in San Francisco, Rudy hits an Over-16 club, and Sondra and Elvin celebrate their housewarming…by moving the party to the Huxtables’ after their water heater breaks. The series ends with Theo’s graduation from NYU.
What Are the Best Episodes of The Cosby Show?
The Cosby Show was one of the best shows of its time, so picking its best outings amid a whopping eight seasons is a challenging task. That said, here’s a list of some of the best episodes of The Cosby Show.
Season 2, Episode 3: “Happy Anniversary”
Cliff plans a European cruise for his parents’ anniversary and the whole family chips in to make the surprise special. The episode ends with a spirited lip-sync performance of Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the Right Time” and a whole lot of stair-dancing. It’s one of the most iconic TV moments ever.
Season 2, Episode 10: “Denise’s Friend”
A friend of Denise’s friend asks Cliff for medical advice because she wants to keep the issue from her parents. This causes Cliff and Clair to wonder if their kids would come to them in a similar situation. They hold a family meeting to make sure the kids know that communication lines are open and Denise tests the waters telling the parents that she spent a night at a boy’s house to see how much they trust her.
Season 2, Episode 18: “A Touch of Wonder”
Denise and Theo are oddly psyched when they’re involved in a minor car accident with the one and only Stevie Wonder.
Season 6, Episode 14: “Cliff’s Nightmare”
The Muppets! Enough said.
Season 7, Episodes 25 and 26: “Theo and the Kids: Parts 1 and 2”
Theo begins an internship as a counselor at a local community center. He suspects one of the kids has a learning disability and shows concern for another child who may have to leave the program in order to help his family earn money. At the end of the day, Theo has confidence in his chosen field.
Season 2, Episode 22: “Theo’s Holiday”
Theo has gotten cocky and thinks he’ll easily land a job as a model with a sweet apartment and plenty of extra cash. The rest of the Huxtables plan a scheme to show him that the real world is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Who Are the Actors in The Cosby Show Cast?
The cast of The Cosby Show became one of America’s most beloved TV families.
Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff ‘Cliff’ Huxtable
A proud father of five, Cliff was always great with children, especially with Rudy and her friends, and his granddaughter, Olivia. He’s an OB/GYN who’s extremely dedicated to his patients and work.
Phylicia Rashad as Clair Huxtable
Clair is the eloquent attorney wife of Cliff who was always his equal in every way. She’s playful, but means business, especially when in court. Rashad has appeared in the Cosby spinoff A Different World and was more recently seen in 2015’s Creed.
Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable
Rudy is the youngest of the Huxtable kids. When the series began, she was just five years old. Knight Pulliam became the youngest Emmy nominee ever when she was nominated for her performance following Season 2. The actress was recently seen on this year’s Celebrity Big Brother.
Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theo Huxtable
Theo is the only son of Cliff and Clair whose obsession with girls, sports and cars often gets in the way of his education. While at NYU, he’s diagnosed with dyslexia, which doesn’t stand in his way of graduating. Warner has had a healthy TV career appearing in shows like American Horror Story, American Crime Story, Suits, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Community and more.
Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable
When the series starts, Vanessa is 11. As she grows up, she traverses many growing pains involving heartbreak, make-up, boys, drinking and cigarettes. In the mid ’90s, the actress hosted her own daytime talk show called The Tempestt Bledsoe Show.
Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable
Denise is a free spirited teen who loves music and fashion, but doesn’t always think too far ahead. She attends college only to drop out shortly after to travel to Africa, where she meets her husband, Martin Kendall. Bonet starred in the Cosby spinoff A Different World until the actress became pregnant in real life, returning to The Cosby Show the following year. Since then, Bonet has appeared in Life on Mars, Girls and Ray Donovan.
Sabrina Le Beauf as Sondra Huxtable
Sondra is the oldest of the five kids and doesn’t appear on screen until Episode 10 of Season 1. She starts the series as a sophomore in college, and later, marries Elvin and has kids of her own: twins Nelson and Winnie. In 2004, Le Beauf starred in Fatherhood.
Raven-Symoné as Olivia Kendall
Olivia is the step-daughter of Denise, and step-granddaughter to Cliff and Clair. She’s smart and sassy, often going toe-to-toe with Cliff. When her father gets stationed in Singapore, Olivia stays to live with the Huxtables, much to Rudy’s despair. After The Cosby Show, Symoné starred as Nicole on Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and then became a ginormous Disney star with That’s So Raven.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on The Cosby Show?
Being a number one show on TV for five seasons in a row is bound to attract hordes of famous guest stars. Here’s a list of some of the most important Cosby Show guest spots.
Rita Moreno as Mrs. Granger
The West Side Story Oscar winner appeared as Mrs. Granger in the Season 3 episode, “You Only Hurt the One You Love.”
Sammy Davis Jr. as Ray Palomino
In Season 5’s “No Way, Baby,” the singer, dancer and actor plays Ray Palomino, the only living relative of an unmarried mother-to-be. Cliff tracks Palomino down who is reluctant to get involved because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s illiterate.
The Muppets as…The Muppets!
Cliff’s late night bingeing catches up with him when he has a terrifying nightmare filled with Muppet-ational characters like talking sandwiches and refrigerators, and a murderous mob of creatures. The Muppets were performed by puppeteers Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, Kevin Clash and Fran Brill.
Sinbad and Gilbert Gottfried as Davis Sarrette and Mr. Babcock, respectively
Both comedians guest in the Season 3 episode “Say Hello to a Good Buy.” When it originally aired, it was watched by nearly 65 million viewers making it the highest rated episode of the series.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind The Cosby Show?
Ed. Weinberger: The Cosby Show Co-creator and Writer
Weinberger’s first job in TV was writing for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He previously worked with Cosby on The Bill Cosby Show which aired from 1969-1971.
Michael J. Leeson: The Cosby Show Co-creator and Writer
Leeson has written for a variety of shows including All in the Family, Happy Days, Taxi and The Bill Engvall Show.
Bill Cosby: The Cosby Show Co-creator and Writer
The star of the show is also billed as a co-creator and writer on the show that was loosely built around his real life and family.
Where The Cosby Show Ranks in the Television Pantheon
For a show that was synonymous with happy times and social change, we’re left scratching our heads at what to do with our love of the Huxtable family. Is it a legacy destroyed? For many, that’s a resounding yes. Regardless of one’s personal feelings about revisiting the show, no one can take away its five number one seasons, dynamite ratings or six Emmy wins out of 14 nominations. Its other honors greatly exemplify why it is (was?) one of the most beloved family sitcoms of all time. In 2002, TV Guide placed The Cosby Show at number 26 in its list of the 60 Greatest TV Shows of All Time for “the warmth and wisdom of Bill Cosby’s parenting philosophy.” Entertainment Weekly called Cliff Huxtable the dad for “the perfect TV family.” Time magazine included the show on its list of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time. The Cosby Show‘s was one of the greatest of its time. Whether or not that’s all tarnished now is up to you to decide.