Today, the entire series of the show “A Different World” was released on Netflix. Anyone who knows me knows this is one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, television show. If you have never seen “A Different World” I highly suggest watching it on Netflix and enjoy being reminded of what great television used to look like. (Also, I’ll go ahead and give you the heads up and let you know season 1 of the show when Lisa Bonet was the star, is not that great. It’s pretty boring, with random funny moments. So just push through season one and you’ll get to the good stuff.) The reason I love this show so much is because of how it portrayed young Black people, and more importantly, the very crucial and valuable messages plenty of the episodes taught me and everyone else who watched it. Although this show was originally a spin-off of the Cosby Show, following Denise’s college career, I believe “A Different World” was the more important show between the two. Not saying the “The Cosby Show” wasn’t a game changer for Black people on network television, but “A Different World” was a life changer for anyone who encountered it.
I say this show STILL matters because it has almost been 30 years since this show first aired, and it’s still just as important now as it was then. I remember watching this show with my Mom when I was younger, and although I didn’t completely understand what college was, I knew I wanted to go because of this show. (However, I would quickly learn, college wasn’t an option in my household anyway, but thanks for making it look interesting, cast of the show lol.) It was so awesome to see this group of people who looked like me, being amazingly flawed people, preparing to do great things. I wasn’t until I started watching the show again in high school and college that I then realized how important this show was to the television industry and life in general.
If you have watched this show, then you remember the “date-rape” episode of the basketball jock attempting to rape Freddie on their date, because “when girls say stop, don’t tell me you actually stop?” Do I even have to elaborate on how relevant this way of thinking is in today’s society of teaching women how to not get raped vs. teaching men to simply not rape? I didn’t think so. There was the HIV/AIDS episode where we learned the basics of always practicing safe sex in addition to how ignorant many people were to how HIV/AIDS works and what it does to the body. With today’s high STD/STI rates, I would say there is still a lot many of us could learn about practicing safe sex. There was the big game day episode which targeted racial discrimination and tension in this country. It was in this episode Dwayne Wayne delivered one of the best speeches while in the jail cell with the perpetrators. Then there was the two-part episode about the Rodney King trial and the “not-guilty” verdict that sent Los Angeles into riots all over the city (which ultimately ended up getting the show cancelled). I don’t think I have to explain how relevant both of those episodes are regarding racial tensions and police brutality with everything taking place in this country within the last few months. However, the one episode that always makes me realize how relevant this show is today, is the time capsule episode. They made a video time capsule where they shared important topics they wished to be better and for people to be better educated on in 20 years, and sadly not much has changed since that video.
I feel this show being added to Netflix, today, couldn’t have been added at a better time. With all of the trash, so-called, television taking up air time and clouding people’s minds, we need to be reminded of what great television shows look like. I’m specifically referring to the Black community too. With all of the “Love & Hip Hop” or “Real Housewives” shows portraying Black people in ways that only adds to the stereotypes of who we AREN’T, shows such as “A Different World” are missed. Thankfully, we have shows such as “Blackish” trying it’s hardest to make up for the lack of positive Black culture television, but unfortunately, “Blackish” can’t do it on its own. We need more writers, producers, actors and actresses who want to eliminate and denounce the stereotypes of the Black community instead of doing the opposite. We need more Black people who want to watch quality television instead of trashy television. We simply need more “A Different World” and “The Cosby Show” in our lives.
I’m thankful I was raised to watch and appreciate such quality television. I’m thankful shows like “A Different World” showed me what I could look forward to growing up. I’m thankful I learned at an early age through this show that the world is not just Black and White. I’m thankful I grew up in the 90’s before reality television was popular. More importantly I’m thankful “A Different World” existed and I’m thankful Netflix has brought such greatness to it’s streaming line-up.
Thank you writers and creators of “A Different World.” Your show will always matter and be the reason many young people, like myself, looked forward to receiving a college education. Thanks for creating one of my favorite shows ever! 🙂