After a little over 30 years, “The Cosby Show” spin-off “A Different World” remains a powerful show for many young African Americans. While I’ve been on winter break I’ve taken it upon myself to go back and watch shows that I grew up on and “A Different World” was one of them. If for some strange reason you don’t know about this show I’ll give you a quick rundown.
“A Different World” aired on NBC on September 24, 1987, and ran for six seasons until July 9, 1993. It originally followed Denise Huxtable (portrayed by Lisa Bonet) as she adjusted to life at the fictional HBCU known as Hillman College. Bonet would only appear for one season as she was pregnant with her daughter Zoe Krativz. The second season turned its focus on characters such as Dwayne, Whitley, Jaleesa, Ron and newcomers Freddie, and Kim.
What I appreciate the most about the show is the way it provides a real insight about how it is to be a Black student in college. Whether the struggle was trying to pay for classes or having the fear of failing, all the episodes are still relatable to this day. The show’s HBCU experience even still transcends to now. Most importantly, “A Different World” didn’t shy away from tackling important issues such as domestic violence, racism, classism, and the overall ups and downs of coming into adulthood as a young African American. It makes you take pride in your culture and your history.
A specific episode that stands out for me episode 12 of season 3 titled “Here’s to Old Friends.” In this episode one of Dwayne’s old friends, Milt, visits from the University of Pennsylvania and immediately begins to critique Dwayne’s decision to be at a HBCU and the friends he has such as Ron. Milt feels as though these things are “holding him back.” He tries to convince Dwayne to transfer to UPenn because “the real world isn’t just Black.” Dwayne of course reads Milt (AS HE SHOULD!) and basically tells him that Hillman puts out just as many successful students and even helped him bag a major internship in Tokyo where he will be offered a job after he graduates. Dwayne further explains that he’s living in the real world right where he is; he’s well aware of it. Whitley even provides insight on why she chose to go to Hillman despite being accepted to Georgetown. It’s important to watch.
Though I go to a PWI, if I had the finances I would’ve tried my shot at a HBCU. As Whitley put it, “no place will teach you to love yourself more than here.” There’s something empowering in being able to see people who look like you walk around campus and pursue careers and chase dreams. It’s a beautiful thing. I honestly latch on to any opportunity to interact with my fellow peers because there aren’t many where I go to school now. Ultimately, I think this show gives me the chance to feel like I’m a part of an HBCU. That’s why I love it.
By Monique Petty-Ashmeade, Freshman, DePaul University