Denise Huxtable enters her sophomore year at Hillman, alma mater of her parents and grandfather, where she moves into Gilbert Hall and shares a dorm room with 26-year-old Jaleesa Vinson and talkative new roommate Maggie Lauten.

A Different World - Netflix

Type: Scripted

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 30 minutes

Premier: 1987-09-24

A Different World - A Different World - Netflix

A Different World is an American sitcom (and a spin-off of The Cosby Show) that aired for six seasons on NBC from September 24, 1987 to July 9, 1993. The series originally centered on Denise Huxtable (Lisa Bonet) and the life of students at Hillman College, a fictional historically black college in Virginia. It was inspired by student life at historically black colleges and universities. After Bonet's departure in the first season, the remainder of the series primarily focused more on Southern belle Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy) and math whiz Dwayne Wayne (Kadeem Hardison).

A Different World - Notable episodes - Netflix

In season one, the episode “Rudy and the Snow Queen” marks the beginning of the softening of Whitley's image as a spoiled troublemaker at Hillman. Denise's kid sister Rudy (Keshia Knight-Pulliam) visits Hillman and becomes smitten with Whitley. Flattered at the attention, Whitley befriends the little girl, but when it becomes clear that she's trumping Denise as a role model, Whitley has a change of heart, steps back and gently persuades Rudy to return to her sister. In season two, the episode titled “No Means No” deals with date rape. Freddie has a crush on Hillman's new top-notch baseball star Garth Parks (played by Taimak). Dwayne hears Garth discuss a disturbing incident involving another woman. Dwayne goes to Walter (Sinbad) for advice, and Walter tells him about date rape. Dwayne tries to warn Freddie, but she does not believe Garth would do such a thing. Later at a dance, Garth goes off alone with Freddie and attempts to rape her, but Dwayne finds them and fights Garth. At the end of the episode, Walter takes Garth to the police station for his assault on Freddie and the rape of the other woman. In January 1991 (seven days before the beginning of Operation Desert Storm), Blair Underwood guest-starred in the episode “War and Peace” (written by Jasmine Guy and Dominic Hoffman) about the impending Persian Gulf War. A Different World became the first situation comedy to address this topic, and “War and Peace” was one of the highest-rated episodes of season four. In the season four episode “Ms. Understanding”, Hillman student Shazza Zulu (Gary Dourdan) peddles a book he has written and self-published that is highly critical of African-American men and their allegedly sexist behavior. The episode is based on the controversy surrounding the book The Blackman's Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman [sic]. This book, written by controversial African American author Shahrazad Ali, blamed many of the problems within the black family and the black community on African American women. Although many black women found the book highly offensive and intellectually deficient, African American men purchased hundreds of thousands of copies in 1989 and 1990, leading to a temporary rift between many African American men and women. Ali's book is mentioned specifically in the 1990 episode “Time Keeps on Slippin'” where Ron suggests putting it in the time capsule to represent a female point of view, but is shouted down by the women in the group. The season five episode “Mammy Dearest” addresses two subjects almost never discussed on prime time television: the “mammy” image and its negative effect upon African Americans' sense of beauty and self-worth, and the little-known fact that some well-to-do African-Americans actually owned slaves themselves. Kim is disheartened with the display of several “mammy” dolls in a cultural exhibit, while Whitley learns that some of her African-American ancestors were slave owners. In some regions of the U.S., blacks owning black slaves (or relatives) would ensure that they would not be sold to leave the town. The season five episode “Cat's in the Cradle” deals with racism, from both sides of the proverbial fence. While attending a Hillman football game on a predominantly white campus, Ron and Dwayne are involved in a bias incident with three white students, which culminates with Ron and Dwayne fighting the white students as they attempt to spraypaint the word “Nigger” on Ron's car, stopping them before they could complete the slur. They are all arrested by the campus police. They share with the campus police chief (Ernie Sabella) the perspectives of the incident, shown from each side. Predictably, it shows drastically different takes. The racist act by the white students is not alone, however, as Dwayne is guilty of the same prejudice by assuming the white campus chief is racist when he, in fact, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement. Poignantly, the ending scene find both parties returning to the parking lot where the altercation started, only to find that some unknown other person or persons finished spray-painting the “Nigger” slur on the car. This episode features one of actor Dean Cain's earliest television appearances. The season five episode “Love Taps” dealt with domestic violence. Gina has been dating an up-and-coming rapper named Dion, a.k.a. “I'm Down” (played by Edafe Blackmon), who many of the students admire, including Terrance. When Lena suspects that Dion has been beating up on Gina (who is sporting a black eye), she confronts her about it, but Gina makes excuses for Dion's rages and tells Lena to back off. Lena confides in Kim about Gina's situation; Kim informs Lena that some things should not be kept secret. Eventually, Dion's reputation is spread all over campus. After having a heart-to-heart talk with Whitley and engaging in a confrontation with Dion (in front of Terrance who has called the police), Gina finally decides to press assault charges against him. Various episodes in the last two seasons of the series referenced contemporary high-profile cases of sexual harassment, such as the Mitsubishi scandal and the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings. In the episode “Bedroom at the Top,” Whitley is sexually harassed at her new job by an executive. The Anita Hill hearings also are mentioned in the episode “The Little Mister,” in which Dwayne dreams about the 1992 elections imagining himself as Hillary Clinton, while Whitley is Bill. The season six premiere includes Whitley and Dwayne's recounting of their honeymoon in Los Angeles, during which four white police officers who were on trial for the videotaped beating of African American motorist Rodney King were acquitted of state criminal charges, sparking the 1992 Los Angeles riots. (Actors Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, comedian Gilbert Gottfried and rapper Sister Soulja made cameo appearances in this two-part episode.) In “Homie, Don't You Know Me?” (one of the “lost episodes” from season 6), rapper Tupac Shakur portrays Lena's (Jada Pinkett) old boyfriend from back home. The two bump heads over Lena's new college “attitude”, not to mention her new boyfriend Dorian (Bumper Robinson). This is one of the few television sitcom appearances made by Tupac, though his appearance was more serious than the show's tone itself. The season four episode “If I Should Die Before I Wake” dealt with the AIDS epidemic. It featured actress Tisha Campbell-Martin as Hillman student Josie, who reveals during a class project that she has contracted the disease from a former boyfriend and would probably die shortly after graduating college. Because of the reveal, some of the students (including Gina and Terrance) start to treat Josie as an outcast by either covering their face around her, or refusing to have her serve food at the Pit. Their attitudes towards Josie change after being chastised by Kim and Mr. Gaines. The dialogue also causes Whitley (who was still a virgin) to put off a sexual relationship with Dwayne. Whoopi Goldberg stars as the professor who conducts the class.

A Different World - References - Netflix