There Is Absolutely NO POINT In Bringing Back “A Different World”

Recently, Debbie Allen [the producer-director of A Different World] tweeted about bringing the show back to life, which STILL has the Black community buzzing at the idea of actually getting some honourable, intellectual and hilarious TV back on the air to combat the ratchetness of reality TV and the overall lack of positive Black imagery on mainstream television. As much as I WANT to believe in this idea, the reality is “A Different World” can NOT and will NOT be the magnificent, inspirational program it ONCE was because the time period we live in today is NOT built to support that program.

The first question we all must ask ourselves is what do we EXPECT and demand of this ADW ’12? My guess is, we will want it to be a major program, on a major network with a great time slot, as opposed to a web series with a small budget, in a far-corner on Youtube. Well, if we truly desire the latter [which I believe a program of ADW's legendary-calibre DESERVES] then we have to take into account the importance of ratings, budget concerns, advertising dollars and mass appeal. So basically this show CAN’T just be for the populous of people [like me] who use to love and watch ADW every week and knew every character’s back story by heart. The fact is, this show would NEED to attract some new viewers just as much as it would need to bring back all the old viewers. And therein lies the problem: The mentality of the new urban audience [and some of the old audience] is NOT sufficiently intellectually interested or significantly substantial enough to support a show like “A Different World.”

One of my favourite current TV shows is The Newsroom on HBO, and as much as I LOVE that show, the premise of the program is off. The assertion the show attempts to make is that people are STUPID these days because we are not significantly and properly informed – but my argument is that the REAL issue is that our society has become intellectually lazy, socially apathetic, and highly interested in stupid sh*t. We don’t watch Jersey Shore, Flava of Love, Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta, Meet the Browns, Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire and Who Wants To Marry A Midget because of a LACK of proper programming - it’s because we have become a society that PREFERS that.

When ADW was created by Bill Cosby in ’87, the public line between ratchet/hood sh*t and intellectual creativity just started to get tested. We enjoyed programs like The Cosby Show and Amen and dancing to Ll Cool J, BDP, Run-Dmc, Eric B. and Rakim and Public Enemy. But on the horizon lured a beast of guilty pleasures like we’ve never seen before: Music was getting raunchier and more gangsta and every other form of media was getting slacker and more explicit. Our community was presented with an overt choice between positivity and negativity – and we chose negativity for the most part and redefined it as positivity [hell, I STILL feel no ways about shouting violent lyrics, watching misogynistic videos and degrading shows because it's just part of my current entertainment].

Fast forward 20+ years, and we as people have changed just as much, if not more, than our entertainment. Our current community can’t sustain a program predicated on examining the young, Black college experience WITHOUT any College-Hill type badness. And if there’s one thing I DON’T want to see happen to ADW, it’s seeing it get brought back to horrible ratings because WE are unable to devote a block of time to a show where someone isn’t threatening to put “dem paws” on someone else.

The thing is, I actually don’t mind reality TV, the same way I don’t mind Souljah Boy [I can find the entertainment value in both], but what troubles me is when WE the CONSUMERS become so interested in one form of entertainment, we shut ourselves down to anything else – and that’s what our TV is going through right now. Would I love to see ADW on TV again? OF COURSE. Do I think there’s a realistic way it can be presented that wouldn’t compromise the values of the original show and STILL achieve mass support and acclaim? Unfortunately, no.

But, this is definitely one time where I would LOVE to be proven wrong.

This Is Your Conscience

When Lincoln Anthony Blades is not writing for his controversial and critically acclaimed blog ThisIsYourConscience.com, he can be found contributing articles for Uptown Magazine. Lincoln wrote the hilarious and insightful book "You're Not A Victim, You're A Volunteer: How To Stop Letting Love Kick Your Ass". He is also a public speaker who has sat on panels all over North America and the Caribbean.

16 Comments

  1. lincolnanthonyblades

    08/28/2012 at 3:48 AM

    Ladies & Gentlemen, Do YOU Think A Different World Can Come Back And Help Bring Intellectualism And Integrity Back To The Screen Or Do You Feel Like Our Community Just Wouldn't Support It Like We Would Need To?

    • Charity

      08/28/2012 at 2:41 PM

      I think it was a wonderful show and that yes it would be a great idea to bring it back. It gave me personal motivation and encouragment towards living my life as a college student on campus. Also It gave students who had the college experience hope and belief that they can make a difference in their world by getting a quality education and sharing their college experience with others who are considering going to college. Bring it back to inspire the next generation in getting an education. "A mind is a terrible thing to waste".

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        08/28/2012 at 3:39 PM

        IF it can inspire the next generation is, unfortunately, the big question here.

  2. mena

    08/28/2012 at 4:27 AM

    Was the show really intellectual or did it just provide a positive message that we don't see in our programs and tv shows today?

    The show would need to change and become more gritty. College students are going through more now than they did back in the 80s. Would the show be comedy based or drama based? Also, people like you and I would need to let go of the nostalgia. This show wouldn't be made for us just like ADW wasn't made for our parents. This would be a major problem. The creators would need to decide who the audience would need to be. FX and AMC are taking on the role of being HBO for regular television so maybe the execs should pitch the idea to them. I don't think this show has to be on a major network to have the same impact. We now have the Internet. The show could be great as long as the first generation that enjoyed the show doesnt stand in the second generation's way of actually having a show that relates to them.

    Lastly, there are good shows on tv even though crap seems to outweigh the good stuff. You just need to stay away from basically reality tv which really isn't hard at all. That's the great thing about cable and the Internet, there are more channels and more programming to choose from. The last I checked, shows like Breaking Bad, Modern Family, Walking Dead, Luther, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones were killing the Emmys and Golden Globes. No one was checking for RHoA.

    • Smilez_920

      08/28/2012 at 9:05 AM

      Yes there are other programs to watch but how many of the programs that you named have an all or majority black cast. Of course there are a variety of programs and shows on the Internet but how many of them show black people in a different light other than, hip hop/ basketball wife, singer, drug dealer etc…

      My problem isn't with reality tv, my problem is that we can't seem to come up with positive programming to balance out the trash tv . White ppl have trash tv it's just for every Jersey shore there's a Modern family, Sons of anarchy, political animals etc …

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        08/28/2012 at 10:56 AM

        Co Sign Completely.

      • mena

        08/28/2012 at 1:27 PM

        You bring up a good point but I don't support the cast bc of the color of their skin. Even when I was younger and watched both the BCS and ADW, I did so bc the shows were awesome and the story lines were funny.

        I say that to say, nowadays, I think that blacks will be TOO critical of a black cast bc they want them to always deliver a message instead of just being a good show. I don't want a Tyler Perry show or another VH1 crap, but I do need a great story line that can be light and not full of cliches and messages while still delivering a great show.

      • iluvwhoiluv

        08/29/2012 at 10:59 AM

        You got that right!

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      08/28/2012 at 10:55 AM

      The show definitely was intellectual – but you can't compare the context of the show to today, you MUST compare it to THAT time period, where they handled issues introspectively in a manner that weren't brought up everyday.

      The only issue I will take with your list is that none of those shows are tasked with the responsibility of accurately representing our community – and THAT'S the real challenge.

  3. Smilez_920

    08/28/2012 at 7:06 AM

    Just because some people watch reality tv, doesn’t mean they are not watching quality programming on other channels. I watch love and. Hip hop but I also watch “the waking dead” , ” big bang theory” , ” Man vs Food ” etc.. So the group is there .

    The thing is its hard for quality black programming to prosper because we don’t support it pass the first episode. In the 80′s we were more aware of our presence in the media and we understood how important it was for us to have positive programming on tv. Now people just use the excuse that ” it doesn’t matter because that’s not how they act in real life.

    The thing is black college isn’t like it was the 80′s. Debbie has to be willing to explore topics like, hbcu’s going bankrupt , losing acredations, more Hbcu’s are reaching out to students of different races, etc… But there are still positives.

    And like @ Mena said people would have to let go of the nostalgic version and not constantly compare one to the other.

    It could work but I think she should start with the Internet, build an audience from there and pitch it to networks.

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      08/28/2012 at 10:57 AM

      I think too many people like me don't want the show to change – and that's the problem. I think she would do more good exploring a NEW show than attempting to bring back this one.

    • Paul B.

      08/28/2012 at 11:07 AM

      Then use a different name. You can't use the same name as a previous incarnation and not expect to be compared to it. That is the nature of a remake.

      • lincolnanthonyblades

        08/28/2012 at 3:40 PM

        Exactly.

  4. knight4444

    08/28/2012 at 8:42 AM

    Excellent article man! I have a strong feeling some of the people here posting opinions weren’t even old enough to have seen and really appreciated this show when it first aired in ”87” No society has changed too much for this great show to return in it’s former state. And your point of the populus being intellectually lazy is absolutely correct!! I remember when Bill Cosby made some very factual points about the black community and he was attacked so badly by his own supposedly brothers and sisters!! No america as a whole has become amazing uninformed and superficial and black america in many ways have followed suite in the dumbing down process of this country.

    • lincolnanthonyblades

      08/28/2012 at 10:52 AM

      Thanks knight. Me and you definitely see eye-to-eye on this one.

      Our youth are not intrigued by the mere presence of seeing ourselves represented on TV anymore. That's a relic of a time past.

      • iluvwhoiluv

        08/29/2012 at 11:01 AM

        It's very tough when it seems we get more glory when we are doing negative things than positive things. I, too, am appreciative of A Different World; in fact, that show and The Cosby Show were some of my favorites growing up.

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