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A Different World Reunion

38 Comments

a different world.jpglisa_bonet.jpg

Why hasn’t there been a Different World reunion episode?

In many ways, A Different World was just as important as The Cosby Show in terms of Black representation in the public sphere. For many, the show provided one the few available windows into a world filled with intelligent, morally upright, and successful Black youth. Also, A Different World helped represent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as rich and powerful sites of community, tradition, and intellection.

Unlike many shows that start off strong and lose steam quickly, A Different World hit its full stride in the second season. This shift in quality during the season 2 was largely due to presence of Howard alum Debbie Allen, who assumed creative control over the show. Despite the loss of Lisa Bonet –a devastating tragedy for me and many other teenage boys—the show managed to develop into a more sophisticated and realistic depiction of life in college.

Unlike many shows, which freeze characters into stereotypical and archetypal roles, A Different World allowed its characters to grow and change in developmentally appropriate ways. One of the best examples of this was the show’s representation of Dwayne Wayne. The early Dwayne Wayne was not unlike many of the brothers who I knew during my freshman year at Morehouse College: silly, cocky, and driven by hormones. By the final season, he had gradually developed from a class clown into a mature and successful husband, father, and teacher. This was a story, which was a powerful contrast to the violent hood flicks of the 1990s, rarely if ever told in public.
In many ways, A Different World was Black people’s Beverly Hills 90210. (Confession: I actually watched both shows. That’s what happens when you bus your kids from the ghetto into White neighborhoods). To this day, if you describe someone as a “Whitley Gilbert” or “Freddy”-type person, most Black folk of my generation will know exactly what you mean. Who didn’t go to college and meet a tough professor like Colonel Taylor or a light skin-ded so-called player like Ron Johnson?

Maybe when Dr. Cosby finishes the most recent leg of his national venting tour, he and Debbie Allen can organize the A Different World reunion. To be clear, I’m not talking about a show where the actors reunite. I want to see the characters come back and do another episode. Are Dwayne and Whitley still in Japan? Did Freddie get a perm? Is Kim big as a house yet? These and other questions must be answered!
My only request, which I’m sure Cosby will be happy to honor just for me, is that he not invite the Season One drop-offs like Maggie (Marisa Tomei) and Millie (Marie-Alise Recasner). He can also scrap Season Five & Six new class, like Lina (Jada Pinkett) and Dorian (Bumper Johnson). No sir, I want the real crew back: Dwayne, Ron, Kim, Stevie, Whitley, Jaleesa, Mr. Gaines, Walter, Freddie, Col. Taylor.
And Denise. It was her show, remember?

Feel free to share you favorite A Different World memories and characters!!!

38 comments

  1. Marc Lamont Hill - July 24, 2006 12:44 pm

    i feel you auntesther. i’m talking about a reunion EPISODE… like the bradys and growing pains be doin’..

  2. Marc Lamont Hill - July 24, 2006 12:48 pm

    Sammy, did you wanna be Whitley Gilbert when you were younger? Don’t lie!!!! :-D

  3. Marc Lamont Hill - July 24, 2006 12:49 pm

    Also, maybe WE Lulus could each take a character!

  4. ting - July 24, 2006 1:16 pm

    Samara IS whitley gilbert. Marcus, you are headed for a beatdown

  5. SammyBee - July 24, 2006 3:12 pm

    OK OK I MUST ADMIT! I admired WHITLEY GILBERT! And now that I look back at my college experience, a lot of it is Whitley Gilbert-like. LOL

  6. SammyBee - July 24, 2006 6:00 pm

    Vic you know you had a pair of those. And you probably had a red-tipped Flat top like Walter had!

  7. Dale J. Thomas - July 25, 2006 9:14 am

    Can They Just have the Dawnn Lewis Special by herself?

    I was in love with Dawn when the show was on.

  8. SammyBee - July 25, 2006 12:06 pm

    DALE’S BACK!!!!!

  9. Piscean Princess - July 25, 2006 1:40 pm

    This show (and School Daze) was the reason I went to Hampton. I probably should have done a bit more research ’cause there was absolutely no resemblance at all. (The whole you-can’t-wear-braids-or-locs-in-the-MBA-program thing doesn’t surprise me ONE BIT!)

  10. omodiende - July 25, 2006 7:15 pm

    Whitley is back! I am watchign teh new show Dead Like Me and there was Whitley as a middle aged meter maid.

  11. omodiende - July 25, 2006 7:36 pm

    correction – a DEAD meter maid

  12. Norris - August 31, 2006 1:26 am

    We need to see all of the characters, From Maggy to Millie. i want to know what happen to them also..

  13. Jackie - July 24, 2007 4:30 pm

    I totally agree. I watched a rerun today and after so many years the final episode still brought me to tears. It reminded me of times in college. I remembered my graduation (from a HBCU) and look for similar traits in my friends. When people ask about college today I wish I could say just watch Different world and remember that the problems are not solved in 30 minutes.

  14. Jackie - July 24, 2007 4:30 pm

    I totally agree. I watched a rerun today and after so many years the final episode still brought me to tears. It reminded me of times in college. I remembered my graduation (from a HBCU) and look for similar traits in my friends. When people ask about college today I wish I could say just watch Different world and remember that the problems are not solved in 30 minutes.

  15. Jackie - July 24, 2007 4:30 pm

    I totally agree. I watched a rerun today and after so many years the final episode still brought me to tears. It reminded me of times in college. I remembered my graduation (from a HBCU) and look for similar traits in my friends. When people ask about college today I wish I could say just watch Different world and remember that the problems are not solved in 30 minutes.

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  20. Brittainy - May 12, 2008 6:53 pm

    I agree with you on this idea! I do forsee them bringing back the later season additions (i.e. Jada Pinkett Smith’s character, they want a name attached to it…). I feel that if the sitcoms that showed White America can reunite, showing us what has become of those watched in the past, African American sitcoms should do the same.

  21. lornab1964 - May 26, 2008 11:21 pm

    I would love to see an episode of where is the Wayan’s and how many children did they have. Did Ron and Freddie get married, did Kim marry Spencer, how is Lena, and the rest of those guys. I would love to see them together. I fell in love with a Different World.

  22. Jazzmin McCoy - July 6, 2008 10:06 pm

    I definitely agree, I am only eighteen years old, but I have loved A Different World ever since I was younger. The show taught me to not conform, but be you at all times, because at the end of the day people appreciate who you are as a person. The show taught me to always love my black brothers and sisters because we are all in this together, and they are the best teachers of life. I still cry when I watch the last episode.

  23. Ra SHAWN - July 30, 2008 4:46 pm

    A reunion of A Different World needs to be done. Hell if The Brady Bunch were able to have several reunion specials and movies, then there’s no excuse why this show should have one if not several.

    That show inspired alot of people to enroll in college, and it touched on several issues that college students endure, (finding themselves, classism, domestic violence, getting serious about life, working while going to school, sexuality and helping others mature into adults)

    It would be great to see what the cast is doing. I would like to see how Whitley and Dwayne’s child look like and if they’re still married as well as what Deniece, Kim, Freddie, Walter, Ron Johnson, Lena, her friend played by AJ Sanders Dorian, his roomate, Charmaine, Mr. Gaynes, Conial Turner, Jalessa, Terrance, Mary Alice, Jennifer Lewis (who played the Dean who put everybody on her list) are up too. It would be great if they can touch on issues that’s revelvant in todays society. Hey Debbie if you’re read this contact me. Me and some friends has some hot ideas for the show

  24. Janeil - August 9, 2008 8:46 pm

    A different world was my favorite show growing up and I wish they would have a reunion show. I connected with that show more then I did a different world. And it’s so funny because everyone says that my husband and I remind them so much of Dwayne & Whitley’s relationship! I would give my right arm to see a reunion show!

  25. peacheslover031389 - October 24, 2008 3:02 pm

    i would like to see them all..including jada and bumper and the rest…i want to see whitney and dewaynes baby….they were my favorite tv couple of all time!

  26. zeena - October 30, 2008 1:39 pm

    i looooove lisa B, cree S, Jasmine G, Jada P, on that show, the whole cast was talented. but they were my persional favorit, for me that show was more realistic then the cosby show, it delt with deeper issuies like rascisem, date rape, shhhhhh, on the cosbys they didnt even have one alcoholic cousin, it was to uptight for my tast,

  27. Kai Ford - December 11, 2008 11:38 am

    Oh my goodness I would really enjoy seeing a reunion episode of one of my all time favorite television shows, A Different World. The show is trully a classic, so it would only be appropriate to the fans that we see what the original cast members, as well as Ms Denise Huxtable-Kindel(a Cosby Show fan as well), are up to at this point. Hey, and while we’re at it, I wanna see a Cosby Show reunion too!

  28. Ashley Scott - January 8, 2009 9:12 pm

    My girlfriend wants to know if Jeleesa and col. Taylor are still married. He was like 50 years older than she was.

  29. c-larock - February 8, 2009 12:13 am

    a different world in the 80s change alot of things about black people,you see we were so in to our self of life within but we forget white folks were checking us special whitley she had a rolled that white folks wanted to be,but they were to afraid too admit it.i thank bill cosby and wonderful debbie allen putting black folks on the seen in a positive way..

  30. brenda - January 27, 2010 2:04 pm

    I totally agree. I want also to see the characters interact and find out who’s with who and so on.
    Do you know if anything like that is in the works? I realize this site has been up since 2006 but I just found it!

  31. Terry - April 20, 2010 1:37 pm

    This was a fantastic show. As a white kid educated in public school system, we don’t get a lot of (see: ANY) education about black history beyond Martin Luther King & Jackie Robinson. Some of my favorite episodes (i.e. “Mammy”) introduced me to perspective and ideology I never would have otherwise experienced. Today, the great Dorothy Height passed away, and the first time I ever heard of this wonderful woman was when the new dorm run by Whitley and Kim was named Height Hall after her.

    It would be fantastic to see a reunion movie (we’d need 2 hours to catch up with everyone, no?) and really bring closure to the storylines as well as possibly introduce the show to a new generation of viewers who are too young to have realized what an exceptional, ground-breaking show it truly was.

  32. Shawn - August 22, 2010 3:47 am

    Hell!! a reunion of ADW and! Martin!! I got hooked on ADW while watching reruns on TVone. They did one for Living Single without the Queen for some odd reason.. Martin, might be e fie, cause idk if Tisha and Martin are still beefing about that sexually harassment thing that happen late in the series but I would love to see that. I’m 80′s baby and I love 80′s and 90′s tv shows :DDD

  33. genevieve - November 17, 2010 10:47 pm

    so how is that reunion project going on? any words?

  34. Adwevolution - November 24, 2010 4:43 am

    In termes of character development, Dwayne’s Love Interest also maturation was pretty striking into Woman that was a very supportive wife who wanted to make her husband happy by any means even calling montell williams to discuss the matter, a mother to be, a Teacher, an art professional with great instincts, a woman who found her voice out of the frame that her mother developped for her and learned to depend on herself…

  35. adifferentblog - December 7, 2010 11:46 am

    4 years later after this post was published the future is not great: there is no news of full dvd release and there is no announced/rumored plans for a reunion spcial movie… we can’t just sit her and wait i’ve seen TV shows saved from cancellation by motivated fans mounting a grassroot campaign…

    I have a blog dedicated to this show beside giving new of the cast and crew it also is an apropriate platform to mount grassroot effort to make sure that reunion movie will happen…

  36. Jen - December 9, 2010 3:51 am

    Great minds think alike! Why have they not done this! They need to do a reunion show asap!

  37. Camille - January 24, 2011 11:32 pm

    My favorite episode(s) was Whitley’s wedding to the Senator. Diahann Carroll’s portrayal of Whitley’s mother was the funniest I’ve seen, next to Patti LaBelle’s portrayal of Dwayne’s mother. Whatever happened to quality shows about intelligent and funny black people. We need more shows like “The Cosby Show”, “A Different World”, and “Living Single”. If the masses can instigate the return of “The Game”, then these beloved shows shouldn’t be too far behind…Right???

  38. Shelli - December 1, 2011 1:02 am

    A reunion would be awesome! I must disagree on one point, though. You GOTTA get Maggie and Millie back, too! I’d love to see she and Ron reunited, and to see her FINALLY stand up to Whitley! I always liked Denise, Maggie, and Jaleesa. They remind me of myself, and two of my best friends from middle school. We were direct look-alikes. Another thing. My sister was a HUGE 90210 fan, plus she liked A Different World, but she wasn’t bussed into the white neighborhood from the ghetto. She was just a regular kid, who happened to be into both shows- and still is.

    Honestly, I don’t see a reunion movie coming, which saddens me. What we MIGHT get is a Today Show reunion, or a reunion at the TV Land Awards.

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