Throwback Thursday: Clair Huxtable's Greatest Hits

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.Phylicia Rashad as Claire Huxtable

Words by Dee Phunk

Just this past Tuesday, television's original primetime MILF (before that household jargon even existed) Phylicia Rashad celebrated her 64th revolution around the sun.  But on Thursdays nights, from 1984 through 1992, we knew her better as Clair -- attorney by day and matriarch of the Huxtable household by night -- on NBC's award-winning sitcom The Cosby Show.  Family, good morals and honesty were usually the dominant themes.  America reciprocated that by lavishing the show with incredible ratings.  Take a quick stroll with us down Stigwood Avenue as we utilize Throwback Thursday to highlight our top ten favorite Clair Huxtable moments.


Dee Phunk (when not tending to his full-time role as a graphic designer) is a partner in popular New York-based event production outfit Rare Form and the sole proprietor of the music / art / culture blog Trees for Breakfast.  You can also catch him onTwitter and Tumblr.

10. The Infantry Has Landed (and They've Fallen Off the Roof)

Every young girl goes through it.  It's inevitable.  That first time when you biologically become a full-fledged woman.  Some girls thug it out.  Others tend to react awkwardly and panicked, like Rudy did.  And with friends like hers, who wouldn't?  That's when super mom Clair swoops in to save the day, dispel any myths and to let her know that everything's gonna be okay.  Awwwww.

9. The Auction

Everybody remembers the episode in season two where Clair goes to an auction to win the painting that was created by her "great uncle Ellis," right? After paddling it out with some guy that resembles a nerdy Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Huxtables go home with "The Funeral Procession," which remains on the living room wall for the remainder of the series. Fun fact: in the show, Clair wins the painting for $11,000. In real life, none of Ellis Wilson's work ever fetched better than $300.

8. If The Dress Fits, Wear It

Guess starring Phylicia's Rashad's real-life sister Debbie Allen (most notably of Fame fame) as a no-nonsense personal trainer, Clair needs to get in shape by a specific date in order to fit into a dress. After fighting temptation and dealing with a late night munchie relapse, Clair eventually slides herself into the shimmering evening gown. However, I'm pretty sure the parrot leotard stole all the thunder.

7. Mrs. Huxtable Goes To Kindergarten

We all know Clair is always up for a good intellectual debate every now and then.  But for some reason she tends to be a magnet for chauvinistic, egotistical know-it-alls (she eventually turns Elvin around, down the road).  But that's when she's at her best. When asked to be on a public access talk show called Retrospective as the only female guest, she lays the smack down as any good attorney worth their salt would.  And Cliff gets to brag about it to the jovial station janitor backstage.

6. Theogate

In an episode entitled "Theogate," Theo arrives home from a track meet uncharacteristically late and is not too forthcoming with the reason why. So what's the next logical step? Set up a mock trial in the living room of course! With some key questioning from Clair Huxtable, attorney-at-law, Theo eventually spills the beans about making fun of a Circus Burger employee's weight which led to him being kicked off the team. Interestingly enough, this is the only time we actually get an inkling of Clair's courtroom prowess during the entire series.

5. Bring 'Em Back Alive

Here's a pretty common occurrence in Park Slope -- garter snakes! Clair Huxtable is a pretty strong woman. But in this episode we find out that ophidiophobia is something that she does not take lightly. Not for long though. Right before Cliff tries to get freaky with her in the bedroom, she spots the snake and all of a sudden overcomes her fear by capturing it in a pillowcase.

4. A Touch Of Wonder

After Denise and Theo get involved in a minor fender bender with a limo that contains none other than living legend Stevie Wonder, the entire Huxtable family gets invited to the studio to watch Stevie record. And naturally, get to record WITH him. After a little persuasion, Clair is invited to set off a little in-studio karaoke. Never shy to flex her vocal muscle, Clair finally obliges and the rest of the family joins in for a heart-warming rendition of "I Just Called To Say I Love You." Don't you wish all car accidents ended up like this?

3. Cliff In Love

Feel free to leave all of that macho bullsh*t at the door when meeting Clair Huxtable for the first time. Especially if you plan on dating one of her daughters. A young Elvin Tibideaux learned this the hard way and got introduced to the fast-talking, neck-rolling Clair that the audience loved to death.

2. Clair's Liberation

Believe it or not, I was introduced to "menopause" by The Cosby Show. We didn't have the luxury of Google back then to go look it up so I was still confused as to what it was by the end of this episode. But just like with menstrual cycles, Clair was more than prepared to debunk any misconceptions and make her children (and poor cousin Pam) look foolish in the process.

1. Off To See The Wretched

Yes, yes...the infamous Wretched episode. Why does it feel like Vanessa was the Huxtable child that did the most dumb sh*t? After going on a road trip with friends to Baltimore to see her favorite rock band, Vanessa experiences what seems like the most abysmal evening of all-time. Having your car AND your show tickets stolen on the same night? That's rough. And to top it off, your mother laying into you when you got home? This was the only Cosby Show episode where you ever see Clair straight out YELL at one of her offspring. You even hear an audible gasp from the studio audience. Now if only she would have done that every time Vanessa experimented with her hair.