A Different World’ Still a Key Cultural Force 30 Years Later

They want it back for their kids and this new generation.”

The show was appealing 30 years ago and now because it is also an intergenerational portrayal of blackness that is also inclusive of a variety of black identities, said Lewis who recently worked on the shows "Major Crimes" and "iZombie."

“There was something for somebody whatever shade black you were or whatever shade of black you were not. Bell, who played musician and ladies man Ron Johnson on the show, said "A Different World" was impressive because it was able to encompass good jokes, drama and address controversial issues and deliver it in a thought-provoking way in 30 minutes.

Bell and Hardison both said their favorite episode is one in which Ron and Dwayne got into an altercation with white students at a football game and the N-word was sprayed on Ron’s car.

Such an episode is still relevant today considering racial tension across the country and on college campuses, Bell said.

“It really spoke to racial tensions in this country that persist and linger and seem to preclude all of us from being able to get beyond the tropes and pitfalls of the past of segregated and racially polarized America to try to really move forward as the United States of America,” he said.

The show had timeless issues, a talented cast, introduced the nation to the hidden jewel of historically black colleges and most importantly held a mirror up to Black America that was inspirational and profound, Hardison said.


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