In 1987, A Different World aired as a spin off series from The Cosby Show. The show stared Denise Huxtable and the life of students at Hillman College. I was born in 1988 so of course I was unable to catch all of it’s glory when it aired for the first time. I recall watching it occasionally when it would randomly appear on the television.
Netflix premiered the series and I casually clicked on Season 1: Episode 1 and that is where it all began. My obsession took form about the third episode in when Denise was forced to wear a pig nose o her first date with Michael. I thought to myself, “Jaleesa could have at least let her take it off for her date.” That is the moment I realized somehow I had become a part of the different world. If only she had thrown the pizza box in the trash, she would have to wear the pig nose.
There was something about seeing young black men and women live this oh so familiar lifestyle that made me want to see more. I loved everything about them; from the clothes they wore to The Pit, where they seemed to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. I could only imagine how it must have felt to watch it back in 1988. As I watched, I found myself googling where Hillman College was located and trying to determine exactly what part of Virginia the school was in.
The subtle hint of black pride was just what I needed at a time where “black pride” was translated into “anti white.” A Different World was just what I needed when the world I lived in was filled with hate, violence and small-minded people. It was refreshing to see Maggie stress over egg from class and to see Whitley Gilbert talk about the luxuries of living in Richmond. I even started to look forward to see whom Dewayne Wayne would tutor next in math. The quick glimpses of shirts that read slogans like “Black by Popular Demand” and “The Blacker The College The Sweeter The Knowledge” made me smile just enough to make me want to look for other small messages within the episodes.
On my third round of watching A Different World, I still find myself using the show to escape real world problems. The airing on Netflix could not have come at a better time for me. Thank you Netflix and Bill Cosby for creating A Different World for me hide out in when it was most needed.