DAR TV: Ranking The Seasons Of A Different World

By @TrueGodImmortal 

Set in the fictious Hillman college, A Different World remains one of the greatest black sitcoms in the history of television. Combining smart and savvy humor with the right blend of societal issues, this Cosby Show spinoff started as a vehicle for Lisa Bonet's character Denise, and then grew into something far beyond that. From Kadeem Hardison as the iconic Dwayne Wayne, Jasmine Guy as the high class Whitley Gilbert, Sinbad as Walter, Dawn Lewis as Jalessa, and many more characters, A Different World helped permeate pop culture and give us the black college experience through humor and serious topics that was necessary for the time. Today, we wanted to look back at the show and each season and rank them from best to worst. Which season is the best? Read on to find out.

6. Season 1

-Season 1 centered around Lisa Bonet and Marisa Tomei, with later emphasis on Kadeem Hardison and Jasmine Guy, but initially the first season just seemed to lack the real pizazz it would later have. The theme was different from the iconic theme that became known around the world, and while there's a lot of humor and jokes in this season, it's missing something extra. Still,  there were great moments in the first season, with Dwayne attempting to chase and date Denise, the guest appearance of Theo Huxtable, the story of Whitley Gilbert and much more. It was a template season so to speak and they were trying to find their direction as a show and it showed. Regardless, though this is the "worst season" technically in the show, it is still moderately enjoyable and set the tone for the future of one of the greatest sitcoms ever.

5. Season 6 


-The final season of the show was actually very entertaining. That's the tough part of this shoe in general and ranking the seasons. Every season, minus the first one, was near perfection and rarely missed. The final season of the show focused equally on the characters of Dwayne, Whitley, Ron, and Freddie while also giving more attention to the plights of the students like Lena, Gina, and the new regulars of the show Charmaine, Terrell, and Dorian. We also meet Dean Davenport this season, and the season kicks off with one of my favorite episodes, as newlyweds Whitley and Dwayne speak of being in LA during the Rodney King riots on their honeymoon. That 2 part episode is the highlight of the season overall, and the show tends to lose just a bit of what made seasons 4 and 5 so great by focusing on the new students a bit more. However, there's some great moments with the students on the show this season, none better than the appearance of Tupac as Piccolo, an old boyfriend of Lena and his altercation with Dorian and continuous issues throughout the show with Lena made for compelling television. This would be the year that A Different World got canceled, and they closed out the story very well, with Dwayne and Whitley relocating to further their lives and career and with Ron and Dwayne reconciling after an issue between the two nearly tore them apart. Season 6 has its flaws, but it's still a very good season all in all and a solid season to end a classic series.

4. Season 3

-I enjoyed Season 3 a lot and I think it might be the most underrated season of the entire show. It's the season that we watched Whitley and Dwayne finally realize their apparent attraction to each other, and the season starts off with them on a plane together, and it develops from there. There's also the storyline of Walter and Jalessa who struggle at times with their relationship as they balance being the residential director and assistant in the new co-ed Gilbert Hall. The episodes during this season touch on some really tough topics like prejudice, racism, love, near death experiences, and much more. The truth of the matter is that Season 3 was a very small step down from Season 2 in terms of quality, but it was also pretty consistent and enjoyable throughout. The guest appearance of Heavy D and The Boyz, as well as the introduction of Patti Labelle as Dwayne's mother really gave the season a bit of a boost as well. All in all, Season 3 would be able to set the tone for the greatest season in the show's history, and that's what's really the most important thing about this season overall. It led us to the promised land of the show and got us closer to the Dwayne and Whitley romance than we had been thus far.

3. Season 5 

-The only thing that makes this season just miss the top two is the relationship between Whitley and Byron, which lacked a bit of chemistry, but did help give us one of the greatest moments in the show's history. This season introduces us to Jada Pinkett's character Lena, as well as the regular appearances from new characters Gina, Shazza Zulu, and more. This season centers around the transition to adulthood for the main characters Dwayne, Whitley, Ron, Kim, and Freddie, and it also features the buildup to a future wedding between the now engaged Dwayne and Whitley. At the middle point of the season, their wedding plans and relationship falls apart, and the fallout is beyond interesting. There are other separate moments in this season that makes it great, from the origin of the "mammy" story episode, the episode where it's hinted at that Gina was a victim of domestic abuse, as well as the incident where Dwayne and Ron get into it with racist students from another school at a football game. The subsequent fallout of that episode is one of my favorite moment of the entire show. As I mentioned, after Whitley and Dwayne breakup, she takes a liking to Byron Douglas (played by Joe Morton) and they quickly become engaged to be married while Byron runs for political office. The apex of this season is the 2 part season finale as they prepare for Whitley and Byron's wedding, which ends with Dwayne crashing the wedding in one of the most iconic black sitcom scenes ever to claim his love for Whitley. The season ends with Dwayne and Whitley getting back together and getting married on the spot in place of Byron. Season 5 is really a great season in its own right and could very well be a top 2 season on someone else's list, but the weak chemistry between Byron and Whitley made the episodes centered around them just a bit boring at times. Still, this is a great season regardless.

2. Season 2 

-This is essentially the turning point in the show. There's more emphasis on Ron and Walter, and the show is built around Whitley and Dwayne, not to mention the arrivals of Kim, Freddie, and Colonel Taylor. Then, the theme is changed to the iconic version of the theme that we know and love, and this was the season that really brought more viewers in. There are so many great moments and tough episodes, my favorite being the one featuring Taimak as Garth Parks, a popular star basketball player at the school who takes a liking to Freddie. They go out on a date and apparently Garth displays tendencies that are unbefitting and this was a risky move to show to discuss rape and entitlement that some people feel to sex. It was a tough episode but necessary. You also got to see Ron and Dwayne attempt to join a fraternity, Dwayne and his dating struggles, and the first official hint at what was to come between Dwayne and Whitley. All in all, the season had everything to set the tone going forward for the new direction, making this season a debatable choice for no. 1 as well.

1. Season 4 

-This is the greatest season of the show and quite possibly one of the greatest seasons in sitcom history. The season is centered around the game that Whitley and Dwayne have played with each other over the years, and it's executed so well. Whitley decides to speak her affections for Dwayne, but it may be too late for her, as Dwayne is now dating the gorgeous Kinu. Whitley attempts to take a date with Ron, Dwayne's best friend, to make him jealous to some avail, but you can feel the inevitable coming. Early on in the season, Whitley ends up getting a chance at cleaning the apartment for Dwayne (Ron helped concoct this plan), and it causes an issue with Dwayne and Kinu, causing them to breakup. Dwayne and Whitley start dating, but the challenges are bigger than expected, and through the season, we get to see them work their way through the ups and downs. Jalessa and Colonel Taylor are dating on this season, and their relationship is one that is beyond interesting on the show. This season was the "graduation year" for the main characters as well, and Sinbad would depart from the series this season as well. The season ends with Dwayne and Whitley looking ahead to the next steps for them as a couple and sets the tone for Season 5. In addition to this, this season also features the very gripping episode where Tisha Campbell stars as Josie, the student who decides to reveal she is HIV positive. That type of heavy topic is just a big part of what made A Different World such an interesting and great show to watch. The 4th season is the pinnacle of the greatness of the show.



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