I have gone on and on complaining about Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond. But while I hate her, the truth is she isn’t that far removed from the sitcom mother’s that came before her.Â I got to thinking the other day about one of my favorite shows, The Cosby Show. Specifically I was thinking about Claire Huxtable, played of course by Phylicia Rashad. She was a strong, smart, independent woman who loved her family as well as her career. Cliff admired the hell of how smart she was and there was no doubt they were in love with each other and respected each other.She also supported her kids and was always there for them, with advice or a firm hand.
But that being said, she could be really overbearing at times. Seriously, to the point of being just plain mean. In fact she could almost be at the level of Debra Barone, There are lots of times she was almost unlikable!Â So in my never ending quest to be fair, since I have said so many horrible things about Debra Barone let me show that even a good TV mom has her moments. Here are my top 5 worst Claire Huxtable moments (and yes some are less moments than they are character traits).
Fair is fair, and this is the pilot which means that the characters are just getting started and the actors haven’t even really figured out how to play them yet. That being said, why is Claire such a witch in this episode? This was obviously before Clair was turned into the smart, independent woman she would becomes. Here she is more the stereotypical aggravated sitcom mother who sends the father up to deal with the kids. She seems downright hostile, at one point asking Cliff why they have four children. I get that she would be angry at Theo but yelling at him isn’t the answer (Thankfully the show itself points this out in the episode where Theo is diagnosed with Dyslexia). There is another scene where sends the kids upstairs after dinner like a drill sargeants and tells them to wash up and go to bed. Yes this was coming from Cosby’s stand up act but it was kind of stupid their to. She whines that she was beautiful, before the children came. Finally when Cliff looks for a little affection she points out that “this is how we got the children”. Cliff backs off… for a second. Heck there’s even a line where Cliff says he loves Theo, and maybe his mother loves him too. She was awful in the pilot but thankfully this did not last because no one would have liked her if it had.
#4.Treating her kids like law clients (or not as adults)
Yeah this one really bugs me. While there are lots of times Claire will stand up for her kids, there are others when her anger gets the better of her. There was one episode called “Theogate” where Claire puts Theo on a mock trial. But that one I can almost overlook since Theo kind of asks for it. But that isn’t the only time she pulls the lawyer bit on the kids. One time when Rudy was hurt while playing with Theo, she goes straight up prosecutor with him. It’s hard to describe if you’ve never seen it but she sounds like she is testifying before a judge rather than talking to her son. Uh yeah Claire, he’s still your son and you have to know what happened was an accident. An avoidable accident, sure, but still an accident. I also understand being annoyed that Theo lied about it but still why treat him like he is a hardcore criminal? Kids do things like this all the time. In another episode Claire was so upset with Sondra and Elvin’s landlords she was ready to file papers against him, whether Sondra and Elvin approved or not. They are the tenants not to mention adults. In fact very often Claire had trouble treating her kids like adults. One perfect example was the time Sondra was sick and Claire and Elvin’s mother literally took the twins from Sondra’s care without her approval. Yeah in real life that could almost be considered kidnapping, thankfully Sondra was enraged (partly due to her illness and partly thanks to Elvin) and gave Claire a good dressing down.
#3.”Mrs. Huxtable Goes to Kindergarten”
This is her episode to shine, and in the A story she does. The story involved Claire being invited to a talk show with three very white, very conservative men. Well that’s all fine and good, but I want to talk about the B story. Claire has apparently decided they need new furniture, and not only does she pick the couch out without so much as saying anything to Cliff but she tries to arrange the move at a time when she knows he will be working. What??? I get Clair is independent and all, but Cliff is still he husband and she had no right doing that without talking with him first. Of course the easy answer to that is, Cliff would never have allowed the change so she had to do it behind his back. Sorry, not buying that one. All she was doing was delaying the inevitable because no matter when he saw the change she made, he wasn’t going to be pleased. The worst part is that if she had just talked to him she would have convinced him eventually….like she does at the end of the episode! Oh, and we’ll get to this more in a bit but there is a a small part in the A story where the green room has donuts and coffee. Of course she wont allow Cliff to eat the donuts that are at the TV station. Why? Got me! What kind of diet is Cliff on anyway???
#2.Refusing to admit weakness
This sounds like a vague one but one of her worst traits is the inability to admit that she is not perfect and needs help. In a season two episode she breaks her toe, and is downright mean at people who try to help her. Especially Cliff who is only trying to make her comfortable. It takes Russell tricking into using a cane to mellow her a bit. Get over yourself Claire, an injury is not a weakness. In another episode she has to go on a diet, and of course has to keep it from Cliff because she knows the grief he will give her after all the grief she has given him. There is another episode where is afraid of snakes, and tries to make is Cliff’s fault for scaring as her a kid. Even Cliff laughs at that one. An early episode shows her failing at pottery and gets some ribbing about it from Cliff and Denise. Problem is she refuses to acknowledge the fact that she blew the assignment, even trying to defend it. One scene I loved came from yet another episode and was when she snuck a taste of Cliff’s chili…when it was still piping hot. She tried to hide this from Cliff, but he catches on and has a little fun with her by giving her a drop of water. It’s always nice when Cliff gets the chance to lord it over Claire. Why? That is answered in the final section.
#1.Treating Cliff like a child
Yeah, I know. Cliff often acts like an overgrown child. When he is sneaking a desert meant for company that is one thing. I also get not allowing Cliff to repair stuff because, well, he sucked at it. But man does Clair get a little carried away with how she treats him. Like the dieting nonsense. The first episode where Cliff going on a diet comes up is good, but it becomes a running gag that he has to eat rice cakes while watching others eat stuff he loved. He’s an adult, right? The donut example above isn’t the only time this happened and it was always annoying. In the Halloween episode Cliff carves a pumpkin which Claire rejects and hides in the corner. She says that Vanessa wants the party to be “adult”, which apparently means boring. Seriously what teenager wants to have an “adult” party?? How about forbidding Cliff to buy things at an appliance store he loves. Because, you know, they are so cash strapped. That’s why it was ok for her to spend thousands of dollars on a painting but he can’t buy himself a lousy remote control. In fairness to the last one Cliff takes it upon himself to one up her by going to a different store altogether and buying whatever he wanted. There were also many times when she would scold Cliff for feeling a certain way, only to turn around and feel that way herself. Once involved Denise and a spacy new boyfriend. When Cliff hated him she told him to calm down, when she hated him that was another story. Another instance was when Sondra and Elvin were opening a wilderness store. She scolded Cliff for being angry at Elvin but then was just as angry when Sondra announced the same thing. Cliff even had to ask in the episode why it was OK for her to rant and rave but not him. Her answer? Because that’s her child. Yeah it made no sense to Cliff either.
So after all that, why do we like her over Debra Baron then? It seems like Claire can be just a big a pain in the butt. The reason I think is because unlike Debra, while Claire was tough at times it was balanced out by her warm side which we saw often. She was fun, she was affectionate, she would stand up and support her kids and stand by her husband. Also the husband was allowed to have a backbone once in awhile. Cliff did get the better of her at times and called her out when she went a bit nuts. And we never doubted they loved each other. Ever. This is why Claire is not hated the way Debra Barone is. Debra treated Ray like an idiot even when it was uncalled for, and never had to apologize for it. And this is becoming another Debra is evil rant so I think I will stop it here.
Despite my griping The Cosby Show was and will always be one of my favorite shows of all time. Hope you enjoyed this, till next time my friend be good to yourselves.