About...The Fan Fiction
The Death of Cliff Huxtable
...So We Can Survive Bill Cosby
As with many of you, “The Cosby Show” was an essential part of my formative years. Nearly all of Bill Cosby’s work has a home in the DNA of my growth and education, inspiring my approach to the arts and academia. So when the allegations of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and rape came pouring out, I experienced the most jarring case of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, here is this work I love and have no way of “unloving” it. On the other, the work’s creator is a sexual predator. Because I believe women and have sexual violence in my past, there is NO WAY I can support this man. Just as we’ve seen with R. Kelly, there was a melding of art and creator, to craft a whole new person folks felt they HAD to defend. This led to many people’s inability to see that two things can be separate, even the opposite, and can be true. The one truth that was still so hard to accept, that it even created arguments, is that while Bill Cosby may have gained the moniker of “America’s Dad,” he is not YOUR dad…and neither is Cliff Huxtable. Cliff Huxtable is no more your father than Max Headroom. To prove this, I decide to “kill” Cliff Huxtable.
Writing “The Death Of Cliff Huxtable…So We Can Survive Bill Cosby” was less about preaching to people that they should stop supporting Bill Cosby and more about taking over a story and characters…a family, left to survive Cosby’s scandal. I wanted to take the wonderfully penned people, better known as the Huxtable family, and give them a current perspective the felt relevant, connecting them closer to us. I also wanted them to grieve the end of innocence for the Huxtable patriarch because no matter what, Cliff will never be absolved of Bill’s crimes. Cliff will forever pay for Bill’s crimes. So…I killed him…to show that Cliff isn’t Bill. He’s simply “drawn that way.”
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The Death of Cliff Huxtable
About...The Live Reading and Panel Series
During COVID19, I launched a live reading and panel discussion series, celebrating “The Cosby Show” and Huxtable family. Over the course of seven weeks, I hosted a live reading of each chapter of my fan fiction, “The Death of Cliff Huxtable.” The story places in the Huxtable family in 2015, shortly after the funeral of the family’s patriarch. Each chapter gives voice to the iconic characters as they endure the loss of the Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable. I’ve even included a chapter for Cliff’s first love, Eunice Chantilly. The fan fiction, originally written in 2015, includes a foreword by Dr. Darnell Lamont Walker; a prologue by Slam, The Poet; and an epilogue in the form of a eulogy written the Reverend, Dr. Carolyn L. Gordon.
After the chapter reading, each episode includes a panel discussion on topics such as battling imposter syndrome, enduring the loss of loved ones, surviving sexual assault, and ways of identifying role models. As a result, our virtual community celebrated the Huxtable narrative. The series has given me dynamic relief from the staleness of quarantine. With a cast and collective of panelists totaling 51 people, the series has been weekly visits with friends for play and debate. It’s been an extraordinary experience.
Diva Blue Productions
Diva Blue Productions amplifies black voices and black stories. My superhero fantasy “Genesis” is the story of a team of superheroes who were siblings separated at a young age. They have to learn to become family and then heroes. My supernatural short story, “Tattoo” is the story of a woman who promises her grandmother she’ll continue the family tradition of quilting but decides to design her quilt as a series of tattoos on her body… that animate and take over the events of her life. I love bridging supernatural stories with black narratives and black history.
Terésa Dowell-Vest is the founder of Diva Blue Productions and Publications and is an Assistant Professor of Communications at Prairie View A & M University. Terésa is the Director of Film and Television Production at the university and is the producer of PVAMU-TV and Festival on the Hill, PV's Official Film Festival. In 2015, Terésa was a Visiting Professor for the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. Her course there is entitled, "From the Drinking Gourd to #BlackTwitter: Social Communication for Social Change" Terésa is a three time Geoffrey Award (Santa Monica Theatre Guild) winning director and a NAACP Theater Award nominee. Terésa currently resides in Houston with her wife Michelle and their dogs, August and Langston.