In the last couple of months, it's been impossible to stay unaware of the rape allegations facing Bill Cosby from 20-plus women who have come forward with similar stories of his actions. That's what made Sunday night's Celebrity Apprentice a mystifying and aggressively frustrating viewing experience.
Keshia Knight Pulliam, the actress who played Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show, was fired for failing as project manager. During the show's boardroom segment — the part of the episode where people bicker and try to convince human grimace Donald Trump not to fire them — Pulliam was repeatedly berated, to the point of crying, for not contacting Bill Cosby.
Here's the video, via Vulture:
"I have not talked to Bill Cosby on the phone in I don't know how long," Pulliam says. "So for me to pick up the phone, having not talked to you for five years, except for when we run into each other for a Cosby event — I feel that's not my place to do."
It's impossible not to have the recent allegations against Cosby affect the way you see this episode. And it's particularly jarring to see Cosby being treated as a savior, who could have swooped in and saved the day for Pulliam's beleaguered group as if the show takes place in an alternate universe where Cosby is still an untarnished, beloved father figure.
"You were an amazing team with one of the most successful shows ever. So I think it would've been a very good call to make for charity. But you have to take responsibility. I think you agree with that," Trump said.
He also defended his actions on Twitter on Monday:
This show was taped just before the terrible Bill Cosby revelations came to light.She still should have asked him for money-goes to charity.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2015
This season of Celebrity Apprentice finished shooting last year, before the Cosby rape allegations hit the news cycle and before the death of Joan Rivers (who will make an appearance on the show).
But it's strange that, with this much lead time, the show wasn't edited even a little bit to nod toward the current allegations. It seems like a callous, careless oversight. And it's also a terrible way to start the season.