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25 Oct

‘A Different World’ Turns 35: See The Solid Then

On this present day in 1987, the classic sitcom, A Different World, debuted on NBC. A spin-off of The Cosby Show, the tv program followed Denise Huxtable, played by Lisa Bonet, as she enters the fictional HBCU Hillman College, positioned in Virginia.  

What was unique about A Different World was its portrayal of young African American men and ladies in a positive way, in addition to highlighting the culture of Historically Black Colleges and Universities on this country. A Different World also addressed issues that were avoided by The Cosby Show writers, similar to race and sophistication relations, sexual assault, and the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. This shift in content is heavily attributed to the arrival of Debbie Allen, who served as a producer for the show in its second season.

A DIFFERENT WORLD — Pictured: (back row, l-r) Glynn Turman as Col. Bradford ‘Brad’ Taylor, Dawnn Lewis as Jaleesa Vinson Taylor, Lou Myers as Vernon GAines, Charnele Brown as Kimberly ‘Kim’ Reese (front row) Kadeem Hardison as Dwayne Cleophus Wayne, Jasmine Guy as Whitley Marion Gilbert Wayne, Darryl M. Bell as Ronald ‘Ron’ Johnson, Cree Summer as Winifred ‘Freddie’ Brooks — Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Alongside Bonet, the show also starred Jasmine Guy as Whitley Gilbert, Kadeem Hardison and Dwayne Wayne, Dawnn Lewis, Cree Summer, Darryl M. Bell, Charnele Brown, Glynn Turman, and Jada Pinkett-Smith, together with an extended list of other actors, actresses, and special guest stars.. After Bonet’s departure in the primary season, the rest of the series primarily focused more on Gilbert and Wayne’s relationship as they navigated college life at Hillman College. 

The show aired from 1987 to 1993, and received stellar reviews during its six seasons on NBC. A Different World also influenced a complete generation of Black students to attend HBCUs (and college generally), while providing a weekly dose of comedy and thought scary content to a national audience.

In celebration of the thirty fifth Anniversary of A Different World, let’s take a take a look at its forged – then and now.

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