I can not think of another show with a more unique impact on a population than "A Different World" had on Black America. There were shows watched by more people ("The Cosby Show"), shows that had a bigger impact on Black culture's cultural lexicon ("Martin," "Good Times," etc), and shows that had a bigger impact on American culture itself ("The Cosby Show" again, "The Jeffersons"), but none that managed to have the type of all-encompassing impact on a very specific population the way "A Different World" did on 8 to 18 year old African-Americans. Basically, Black kids who happened to be in elementary, middle, and high school when it aired.
It impacted our fashion (I think I still have the Hampton University short set my parents bought for me in 1991), our need for pretentious eyewear (I think I still have the "Dwayne Wayne" flip-up glasses my parents bought for me in 1991), our feelings about college (apparently, HBCU enrollment spiked after this series aired), and even our eventual love lives (Had a friend tell me last week that he wasn't married yet because he was "Waiting on his Whitley." Didn't have the heart to tell him that Whitley Gilbert wouldn't have spit on him if he was on fire).
Now that this population has grown up, there's been an understandable push to somehow get "A Different World" back on the air. I mean, we already have a company selling Hillman College apparel, so why not venture back into the lives of Dwayne, Whitley, Ron, Jaleesa, and Freddie and see what misadventures they're getting themselves into today? Or, if that proves to be too impractical (and, well, too creepy), why not just create a new, 21st century Hillman class that would hopefully have the same impact on the younger generation that their predecessors did on us?
While these ideas seem noble, any reboot or revisit would just likely just be an attempt at pandering to our own collective sense of nostalgia. We're not concerned with the current lives of the characters or with possibly exposing this world to a new population as much as we just want to feel the way we felt when we were first on Hillman's campus. But, as every. other. rebooted. TV. series. ever. has proved, those types of feelings are impossible to recreate, especially with an "update."
Still, with that being said, update or not, a newer version of "A Different World" would probably be much better than most of what we currently have on TV today. Even once you control for nostalgia, a show revolving around the trails and tribulations of a group of college students from diverse backgrounds can't be any worse than "The Real Basketball Wives of Hip-Hop." And, while I do think it might be better for us to do what the Hillman College students undoubtedly did when they finally graduated — namely, move on — I'd definitely watch and support a reboot. After all, today's world isn't really all that different.
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