For anyone who has ever attended an HBCU (Historically Black College and/or University), they will tell you how true to life the title A Different World is. The show itself was a spot-on depiction of life on a college campus where the majority, if not all, the students are of color.
Beginning as a spin-off of the already popular sitcom The Cosby Show, A Different World was on air from 1987-1993 and inspired practically a whole generation of young college-bound African-American students to consider attending an HBCU themselves. That’s just one of the reasons we love A Different World, but we have 25 more:
1. Hilman College, a fictional HBCU in Virginia.
2. Kappa Lambda Nu
3. Scenes filmed at real-life HBCU’s, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University
4. The Peach Pit hang out area in A Different World was based on the Punch-Out hang out area at HBCU Howard University.
5. Aretha Franklin sang the show’s theme song.
6. The “Getaway” episodes, a two-part story where Dwayne and friends go to Devil’s Island, South Carolina for Spring Break, only to get their bags switched with the bags of drug dealers.
7. The “War and Peace” episode, guest-starring Blair Underwood who plays Dwayne’s childhood friend. Underwood’s character visits Dwayne to let him know he has been assigned to fight in the Persian Gulf, making this episode one of the first fictional sitcoms to deal with the reality of the real-life 1992 Persian Gulf War.
8. Tupac Shakur’s guest appearance as Piccolo, the ex-boyfriend of Lena played by Jada Pinkett.
9. The “It’s Greek To Me” episode where Ron and Dwayne attempt to pledge a fraternity.
10. The show was one of the first sitcoms to deal with real-life issues, such as HIV/AIDS in the African-American community in the “If I Should Die Before I Wake” episode.
11. When Terrell tapes a piece of paper with the words “Digit ho” on the back of Charmaine, the issue of sexual harassment — a hot topic at the time due to the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings — becomes the central issue in this episode’s plot.
12. Patti Labelle as Dwayne Wayne’s mother, Adele Wayne.
13. Sinbad as Walter Oakes
14. Denise Huxtable (played by Lisa Bonet) attended Hilman College.
15. Denise Huxtable’s mother, Claire Huxtable (played by Phylicia Rashad), who was most famous as the mother in The Cosby Show, visits her daughter frequently.
16. Dwayne Wayne joins Phi Betta Kappa.
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