BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP
Wow, 30 years! I cannot believe it has been that long since A Different World premiered, and I saw it when it premiered on television the first time. Before Thursday night belonged to ShondaLand and ABC, NBC had it on lock with Must See TV. The Cosby Show, followed by A Different World was what I looked forward to as a kid. Surprisingly looking back, I was only ten when the show premiered.
This iconic show celebrated a fictional HBCU, Hillman College, made its debut on NBC on September 24, 1987. The Cosby Show spin-off was originally centered around free-spirited Huxtable daughter Denise, played by Lisa Bonet, as she attended her parent’s alma mater. The pilot episode still reigns as the highest rated television pilot in history, with 38.9 million viewers.
During season one, Denise struggled through college and experienced it all with her friends Maggie (Marissa Tomei), Jalessa (Dawnn Lewis), Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison), and Whitley (Jasmine Guy). Once Denise dropped out of school due to storyline shakeups and personal issues in her real life, the show focused on capturing the essence of being young, black and educated in America by tackling political, ethical, racial, emotional and social issues far before the media thought about addressing them. They received push back from the network for some of their topics, including the LA Riots episode.
After season one, Bill Cosby knew that the show needed a shake up so he fired a lot of the crew and brought on several new people including Debbie Allen, real-life sister of his on-screen wife, Phylicia Rashad. Once Debbie Allen took over producing and directing, the show went to another level. With the new seasons brought new characters, including Kimberly Reece (Charnelle Brown), Freddie Brooks (Cree Summer), and Ron Johnson (Darryl Bell) which only added appeal to the show.
I appreciate Bill Cosby for creating a show that showed us in a positive light and educated. This show made education and going to college desirable. I remember wanting to go to college because of A Different World, it looked so fun.
Everyone has their favorite episode or episodes. My favorites include the infamous Whitney and Bryon wedding when Dwayne interrupted at the last minute. Such an awesome season finale and Joe Morton made an entrance to my life before he was Papa Pope on Scandal.
Season one is the only season on DVD due to an issue with the rights and Carsey-Warner Productions not wanting to relinquish them.
A Different World still remains relevant now, and it has touched many generations since its premiere. It was on Netflix for a time, but now can be seen on TV One and Logo daily.
You can catch an all-day marathon of the most memorable episodes on TV One beginning at 10 am and concluding with the pilot episode at 8:30 pm, the same time it premiered 30 years ago. Make sure you tune in for trivia and memories.