Flashback Friday: A Different World

This Friday’s Flashback will be the 90’s classic TV show, A Different World!

The Cosby Show spin-off A Different World aired on NBC from September 24, 1987 until July 9, 1993. The show featured Cosby kid Lisa Bonet and an ensemble cast which included Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison, Cree Summer, Darryl M. Bell, Dawnn Lewis, Charnele Brown, Marisa Tomei and later in the series, Glynn Turman, Sinbad, Jada Pinkett (Smith) and more.

The show took place at the fictitious Hillman College which was located in Virginia. HIllman was supposed to be a Historically Black College. The first season featured star Lisa Bonet as Denise Huxtable. But, Lisa was only on the show for that first season and starting in season two, Jasmine Guy’s Whitley Gilbert became the star of the show.

A Different World pilot teaser

The show’s plots were mostly about college life and relationships. But, it also covered more serious topics such as “race”, class and HIV/ AIDS. A Different World was the first show aimed toward African Americans to deal with the topic of HIV/ AIDS. A Different World also featured plots involving Historically Black Fraternity and Sorority life on campus.

Co-ed Step Team episode teaser

The show also featured a long list of recurring roles filled by well-known actors such as, Mary Alice, Gary Dourdan, Diahann Carrol, Patti LaBelle, Roger Guenveur Smith, Rosalind Cash, Ron O’Neal, Robert Guillaume and Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad.

A Different World also featured a long list of guest stars such as, Richard Roundtree, Art Evans, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Lena Horne, Tupac Shakur, Billy Dee Williams, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Kris Kross, Heavy D, En Vogue, Halle Berry (as Ron’s girlfriend) and David Alan Grier.

A Different World ranked as the number one most watched show among Black households for four of its six seasons and in all households ranked number 2 in its first season, number 3 in its third and number 4 in its fourth season before dropping to 17 in its fifth year and finally to 71 in it’s final year.

The show had a huge impact on African American youth. Many who grew up watching A Different World site the show as a reason they chose to attend an Historically Black College.

A Different World open, theme sung by Pheobe Snow

Bill Cosby created A Different World and Debbie Allen directed most of the episodes. Bill Cosby and Dawn Lewis composed the opening theme which was performed by Phoebe Snow for the first season and seasons 2 thru 5 performed by Aretha Franklin. For the final year it was performed by Boyz II Men.

There were 138 episodes of A Different World and it is currently in syndication.

Did you watch A Different World?
Who was your favorite cast member?
Do you consider A Different World to be classic TV?


11 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: A Different World

  1. I enjoyed watching A Different World. I can remember one particular episode about rape that I thought was really disturbing. I thought it was an interesting show.

  2. I was a very big fan & a faithful watcher of ADW. You could tell that Cosby had his hands all up & thru it… because there was usually some underlining message in the show & it was not just another mindless sit-com.

    Dwayne Wayne was my favorite character. I think he showed the most growth from season one to the final episode. His maturation FELT like a college education.


    • I agree about the messages from the show. That was sort of a throwback to the sitcoms of the 50s and 60s.

      Lol. Dwayne Wayne was cool, Lin. He wasn’t one of my favorites at the beginning but like you said they let his character grow.

  3. I never took to this show, maybe I was still too young. Looking at Lisa Bonet in her prime though, I think she’s beautiful. I suppose Jasmine Guy’s character also annoyed the heck out of me every time I tried watching. lol

  4. I always like Lisa Bonet and Jasmine Guy.
    Funny though… My girlfriend’s son just mentioned today that he was looking for some “Dwayne Wayne Glasses”.

  5. I enjoyed the show and felt it was a perfect cast off on The Cosby Show. To the day I watch episodes via YouTube and my fave characters were Kadeem Hardison, Jasmine Guy, and Jada Pinkett.

    • Yeah, it was the perfect spin-off from Cosby. It definitely had the same feel to it. Jada come on toward the end of the show. She was a nice addition to the show. They had a whole lot of really talented people on that show. If the cast had been White with the same talent they would have gotten tons of offers like the cast of Friends.

  6. Pingback: Tie Me Up! |

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