Attempting to Explain One of Television’s Great Mysteries: The Huxtable’s Basement

by Kevin Hellions @TeamHellions

In the history of television there have been many mysteries. Was the moon landing faked? What happened to the youngest daughter on Family Matters? But perhaps most confusing of all: Why is the ceiling of the Huxtable’s basement so damn high on The Cosby Show?


When we watched The Cosby Show in its first run we were much younger and didn’t question anything. As we get older and begin to riff on pop culture with our friends the easy things come up. Where is the toilet? Where is the TV? The more detail-oriented among us dig even deeper. Deep into the cellar.


Take a look at the Huxtable home. The living room flows toward the kitchen with a dining room in the back, and we’ll assume somewhere behind the stairs or around the corner is a downstairs bathroom. That corner also features the house entrance to Dr Huxtable’s office. It’s that office that holds the key to explaining the basement’s unique nature.

Look at the front of the house:


An entire flight of stairs up to the front door of the house, which opens into the living room. Then there is a very small flight of stairs from the sidewalk into Cliff’s office. It is this huge space that explains the basement further back in the house.

The cellar seems too big because the often used camera angle does not show the entire kitchen.


There is a back hallway. We know from many episodes that somewhere in this space is the entrance to the basement. However the assumption is that within this hall is the same door that leads into the cellar. But we would all be wrong, for there is another set of stairs.

The only explanation is that any member of the Huxtable home would walk into the kitchen hallway, open a door, walk down a flight of stairs, which then leads to the cellar doorway. Much like this:


It’s the only possible explanation. That is, the only possible one for us children of the 80s who are a little too obsessed over such things. The rest of the world has just moved on.

Now if only we could explain how there are steps up to the front of the house yet the backyard is level with the kitchen.


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