Phylicia Rashad slams critics of ‘The Cosby Show’

Phylicia Rashad, arguably the most iconic TV mom in history, is taking on the role of a new family matriarch in the highly anticipated big screen drama Frankie & Alice.

Rashad stars as Halle Berry’s mother in the film, in which the Oscar winner plays woman with multiple personality disorder caused by a traumatic incident from her childhood.

It’s hard to believe that it was 30 years ago when The Cosby Show first entered the homes of millions of Americans.

The Cosby Show is without a doubt an American treasure; however the series has received some backlash from critics who believe the show’s portrayal of an upscale African-American family wasn’t realistic.

In an interview with theGrio, Rashad, who starred as Clair Huxtable for 8 seasons, opened up about some of the criticism that the sitcom received.

“Of course there were [critics]. The Huxtable family in terms of the parents’ personal and professional development is not an invention of the ’80s,” Rashad said. “If you know anything about people and anything about history at all, you know that there were always people of color who were educated. There ain’t been a time in this world that that has not been so. People need to get a grip.”

Last year on an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN, Oprah discussed the impact The Cosby Show had on the election of President Barack Obama.

“We probably wouldn’t have the president in the office that we have right now had there not been the Bill Cosby show because The Cosby Show introduced America to a way of seeing black people and black culture, that they had not seen before,” Oprah said.

Rashad is modest about the link between the Huxtables and the Obamas, but says that The Cosby Show had a net positive effect on the American psyche.

“I think that is a great compliment to Mr. Cosby, because it was his sensibilities that were at the root of The Cosby Show,” said the Tony-winning actress. “It was his sensibilities that moved that work in the direction which it went. I always have felt that The Cosby Show was without question some of the best [public relations] for the United States of America that has ever existed. [The Cosby Show] allowed people around the world to see that we are all much more alike than we could ever be different.”

Rashad discussed reports that circulated earlier this year of a new deal Cosby inked with NBC to bring a family sitcom back to the network. The For Colored Girls actress says that she’s excited by the prospect of his return to television, but doesn’t think he will call her to be a part of the new project.

“Anytime Mr. Cosby calls, I’m there,” said Rashad. “But he’s not going to call me for this. And he doesn’t have to… and it’s just fine.”

“I am so grateful at just the prospect of his returning to primetime television. It makes me so happy. It makes me so joyful. Because it felt to me that at the conclusion of those 8 years all of the industry seemed to pretend like it didn’t happen.”

Frankie & Alice opens in select theaters nationwide tomorrow.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter for more Entertainment news at @WitherspoonC