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?