A Different World's Most Topical Episodes

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Everybody knows and loves A Different World for being a Cosby Show spin-off and for being one of the first television shows to depict college life through the eyes of HBCU students. Another reason people love A Different World is because the late 80s/early 90s sitcom was able to touch on topics often looked at as too taboo for television. Things such as religion, date rape, racism, sexual harrasment in the work place, and a slew of other topics were not necessarily what people wanted to watch on TV when they sat down with their families at 8:00pm. A Different World was different in that regard and chose to talk about the staunch realities of life as a young adult. Below, we made a list of A Different World's most topical episodes.

It Happened One Night

Season 2, Episode 11

Topic: Teenage Pregnancy

Early on in the series ADW tackled the topic of teenage pregnancy in college. The students discussed their fears of parenting and Jalessa even informed the gang about a time where she was young and pregnant, but ultimately lost the baby.

High Anxiety

Season 2, Episode 18

Topic: Anxiety

Mental health is not often discussed on primetime television, but A Different World did and did it through the perspective of a college student. A demographic often forgotten. Kim was so set on being successful and becoming the first doctor in her family that she didn't even have time to breathe and enjoy being young.

No Means No

Season 2, Episode 20

Topic: Date Rape

This episode might be the most pivotal one in A Different World history. Susan Fales, the executive producer of the series said that so many people reached out to her because of this episode. It was also an unique episode because it had its own version of parental advisory on it before it aired.

Answered Prayers

Season 3, Episode 9

Topic: Religion

Religion is a unique undertaking to talk about in the Black community. Dwayne, Freddie, and Whitley all look at religion a different way, especially Freddie who is not sure what she believes.

Pride and Prejudice

Season 3, Episode 14

Topic: Racial Profiling

Whitley has to buy a last minute gift for hr father's birthday, and when she goes to a jewelry store to spend a nice amount of change, the jewler is standoff-sit to Whitley. She doesn't take the jewelry out the glass and she proceeds to tell Whitley that these items are expensive. Freddie tags along with her and notices the jewelers ways and Whitley must decide if her money if worth the racism.

A World Alike

Season 3, Episode 16

Topic: Apartheid

Apartheid was a large topic during the late 80's and early 90's. When Freddie found out that Orange Glow soda, the largest employer and investor of Hillman College, hadn't divested from South Africa, the school must determine if they are going to cut financial ties with a company that supports so much of them.

If I Should Die Before I Wake

Season 4, Episode 23

Topic: AIDS

Debbie Allen notes that the inspiration for this episode came after Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive. She saw the reaction of the cast and realized that it was important to have an episode about this topic. This episode guest stars Whoopi Goldberg and Tisha Campbell, who plays Josie Webb, a student who has contracted AIDS.

Almost Working Girl

Season 5, Episode 4

Topic: Affirmative Action

Freddie goes to Jalessa for a job and is place in a corporate setting where the boss mentions that she is not a proponent of affirmative action. When Freddie tells her that as a Black woman, she should be pro-affirmative action, she loses her job, and the cast discuss their own opinions on affirmative action.

Mammy Dearest

Season 5, Episode 11

Topic: Colorism

After Whitley and Dwayne break up, Whitley dives more into her Afro-centrism. When see wants to display a collection of Mammy memorabilia, her and Kim get into a spat about what that symbol actually means.

The Cat's In The Cradle

Season 5, Episode 14

Topic: Racism

Black people cannot even enjoy a college football game without encountering racism. When Ron made a bet with the opposing team's school, the white boys at Virgina A&M could not accept defeat with showing their racism by spraying "NIG" on Ron's convertible. After Ron and Dwayne gets into a brawl with the rivals, they are arrested and share a cell in which they discuss racism.

Prisoner Of Love

Season 5, Episode 15

Topic: Prison Reform

Like many topics that people don't know much about, when they speak, they can come off as ignorant. When Freddie's prison pen pal Jamal is released from jail, that campus community must reflect on how they treat those who are recently released from correctional facilities.

Bedroom At The Top

Season 5, Episode 16

Topic: Sexual Harassment

As a recent graduate, especially one who had to endure an extra year of college, Whitley was excited to finally jump into a career to she so longed for. Once she got their, her boss began to pay more to attention to her body and what she can do for him, rather than what she can do for the company. Once Whitley reported it, and even went to the higher ups with facts and evidence, her boss was only reprimanded.

Love Taps

Season 5, Episode 22

Topic: Domestic Violence

Domestic violence on the college level is often not talked about. When Gina began dating Deion, he took his insecurities out on her and began beating her. Since Gina thought it was out of love, she stayed with him. Thankfully she had a group of friends who had her back and say a way out for her even when she didn't see it for herself. Not only was he physically abusive, he was also emotionally abusive and controlling. He also asked Gina what she was doing, where she was going, and who she was hanging out with.

Honeymoon in L.A. Part 1 & 2

Season 6, Episode 1-2

Topic: 1992 L.A. Riots

These two episodes are said to be the reason for why A Different World was ultimately cancelled. Like most episodes, this one drew from real life experiences. As the L.A. Riots were commencing, Dwayne and Whitley took a honeymoon trip to Los Angeles. An HBCU executive was almost injured in the riots and did not like the direction in which this episode took.

The Little Mister

Season 6, Episode 7

Topic: Politics

A presidential election was right around the corner and A Different World saw fit to make the female characters mimic the male candidates to show the audience what it would be like if women ran the country how men did and how the tables would be turned once they were in charge.

Occupational Hazards

Season 6, Episode 12

Topic: Unemployment

Especially in the time of coronavirus, unemployment has never been so high. But when Whitley lost her job and her and Dwayne got robbed, her only option was to go to unemployment and check out their resources. It did not help that she also spent $700 on a suit that she stained and planned to take back.

To Whit, With Love

Season 6, Episode 14

Topic: Pre-marital sex

Most people use college as a place to let loose and enjoy every inhabitation there is, especially when you're the star freshman basketball player with a beautiful upperclassmen who is interested in you. When Dorian and Lena begin dating, Dorian tells Lena that he wants to give his wife something that nobody has ever had, and they choose to put a pause on sex.

Great X-Pectations

Season 6, Episode 20

Topic: Guns

When Terrell and Charmaine got ran down by some locals, Terrell saw it fit to start carrying a gun on him. In 1992, this idea could have been looked at as obscene, but in 2020, there are many HBCU students who carry guns on them for protection.

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