Stars defend "Cosby Show" actor from "job-shaming" after photos of him bagging groceries go viral

It might have been the stains on his shirt, or the name tag, or the look of concentration as he priced a shopper's bag of potatoes. But pictures of former "Cosby Show" star Geoffrey Owens, who played the son-in-law of Bill Cosby's character for five seasons, now working as a cashier in Clifton, New Jersey, stirred people this Labor Day weekend.

It started after the customer who snapped the photos sent them to a tabloid. "From learning lines to serving the long line!" read the Daily Mail headline. 

"It made me feel really bad. I was like, 'Wow, all those years of doing the show and you ended up as a cashier,'" the shopper told the paper.

But the pictures tell us almost nothing about where Owens ended up or where his long acting career may be headed now. The reaction to the photos, however, tells us a lot about what we think of hourly work in America. 

It turns out we're a lot prouder than you might expect. Nearly 60 percent of Americans are hourly workers, and thousands of fans and fellow actors rallied to Owen's defense.

"A fantastic, hilarious actor," tweeted director Judd Apatow.

People defended not only Owens the artist, but Owens the laborer. "At its simplest, this is a man working a job," as producer Emerson Collins tweeted.

"Family Ties" star Justine Bateman called his cashier job "an honest living." And people, perhaps more typically attacking each other's views, suddenly agreed.

"There is pride in every job," wrote conservative commentator Laura Ingraham. "Good for him."