A Different World (1987)
A Different World (1987)
A Different World is an American television sitcom which aired for six seasons on NBC. It is a spin-off series from The Cosby Show and originally centered on Denise Huxtable and the life of students at Hillman College, a fictional mixed but historically black college in the state of Virginia. After Bonet's departure in the first season, the remainder of the series primarily focused more on Southern belle Whitley Gilbert and mathematics whiz Dwayne Wayne. The series frequently depicted members of the major historically black fraternities and sororities. While it was a spin-off from The Cosby Show, A Different World would typically address issues that were avoided by The Cosby Show writers. One episode that aired in 1990 was one of the first American network television episodes to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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4x01 Everything Must Change

21 September, 1990 4:30 am
Whitley thrills her friends by announcing that she has finally decided that Dwayne is the right man for her. Although she answered his love letters during the summer, she chose not to send her replies because she wanted to leave him begging for more. When she goes to Dwayne's apartment to share her feelings, she discovers that he met someone during his summer in Japan. He introduces her to girlfriend Kinu, a beautiful Japanese American who attends nearby Avery College. In addition to her emotional turmoil, Whitley does not have a place to live because she lost her apartment by failing to pay the security deposit. Jaleesa reluctantly allows her to temporarily stay at her apartment (across the hall from Dwayne's). Whitley vows that she will not screw up if she gets another chance with Dwayne. Col. Taylor's son Terrence enrolls at Hillman. His overzealous behavior around women earns him the nickname "Pee Wee Hormone."

4x02 How Bittersweet It Is

28 September, 1990 4:30 am
Whitley accepts a date with the persistent Ron in the hopes of making Dwayne jealous. She leaves a series of answering machine messages in which she repeats the time and location of the date, believing that Dwayne will show up. Ron ignores Dwayne's warning and insists that Whitley really likes him. After they have a good time at a club, Whitley feels guilty and admits that she was trying to get to Dwayne. Ron accepts her apology and says that he is happy to help, as he cannot stand Kinu. Ron pleads for a kiss at the end of the evening, and Whitley pecks him on the cheek. When Dwayne comes out of his apartment, she pulls Ron into a long liplock. Freddie hopes to get into a class taught by Professor Randolph, a respected authority on African American history. Professor Randolph asks students to write an essay explaining why they would like to enroll, but Freddie impresses him with a performance art piece. Freddie's cousin Matthew, who is white, comes over from Avery College to take the c

4x03 Blues for Nobody's Child

05 October, 1990 4:30 am
Freddie befriends Alex, an eight-year-old foster child who attends the community center. She is horrified after visiting an adoption fair and watching all of the potential parents ignore Alex in favor of infants and toddlers. Professor Randolph speaks out on the plight of foster children, but Freddie accuses him of hypocrisy when he says that he and his wife would only adopt a baby. A disheartened Alex runs away from the adoption center and finds Freddie at Ron and Dwayne's place. Whitley tries to bond with the boy to make herself look good in front of Dwayne. Walter finally shows up to retrieve Alex, after Whitley and Freddie try their best to hide him. Mr. Gaines, Walter and Col. Taylor all wish to apply for adoption, but are told that they need to take more time to think it over. Professor Randolph and his wife decide to begin the process of adopting Alex; although Freddie's comments were out of line, the professor realized that she was right.

4x04 Whitley's Last Supper

12 October, 1990 4:30 am
Whitley's father comes to town and takes her to dinner. He announces that he is fed up with her exorbitant spending habits and takes away her credit cards. He will now only cover her tuition and basic living expenses. Whitley begs Jaleesa to let her continue living in her apartment, although she cannot quite cover her share of the rent and utilities. Whitley bemoans her plight and claims that everyone has abandoned her. Kinu catches Dwayne trying to console her. Freddie believes that Kim is studying too hard for the practice medical school boards. She tricks Kim into taking a break and coming to Ron's frat party. Kim plays a practical joke on Freddie; she pretends that she bombed the test because of exhaustion, then reveals that she actually scored 88 out of 90.

4x05 The Goodwill Games

19 October, 1990 4:30 am
Whitley decides to try out for the academic decathlon, as the winning team will receive $1500. Although Dwayne and Ron make fun of her, Whitley proves to be quite knowledgable and makes the team. She and Dwayne are disgusted to learn that they must be partners. During a late-night practice, they start wrestling and fooling around and end up kissing passionately. Whitley overhears Dwayne assuring a jealous Kinu that he has no interest in Whitley. Whitley files her nails during the game, leaving Dwayne to carry the team singlehandedly. Dwayne apologizes and convinces her to play, but they barely lose to Kinu's team. After Dwayne and Kinu leave to celebrate, Whitley declares, "You may have won the prize, but I will get the man." Kim turns down a date from Matthew, telling Freddie that he is strange and she isn't strong enough to deal with an interracial relationship. Freddie argues that Kim doesn't want a social life because it might interfere with her routine. Kim asks Matthew out for co

4x06 Tales From the Exam Zone

26 October, 1990 4:30 am
Walter narrates a Twilight Zone-style look at the students' struggles during midterms. Whitley must complete a report for her somewhat sadistic accounting professor by the following day. She struggles to find a quiet place to work after Jaleesa and a date kick her out of the apartment. Dwayne, working as a teaching assistant for Col. Taylor, cannot keep Terrence from skipping class. Col. Taylor discovers the truth, leaving Dwayne with just 24 hours to get Terrence ready for the midterm or lose his grad school recommendations. Freddie begins hearing voices that shake her confidence before her midterm in Professor Randolph's class.

4x07 Good Help Is Hard to Fire

09 November, 1990 4:30 am
Dwayne falls apart in the aftermath of his kiss with Whitley. He cannot sleep due to recurring nightmares, and lets the apartment turn into a pig pen. Kinu becomes extremely bossy and territorial; she argues with Ron (who is tired of her constant presence at the apartment), then tries to bar Whitley from a party honoring Dwayne's and her six-month anniversary. Ron, hoping to drive Kinu over the edge, hires cash-poor Whitley as a housekeeper. Dwayne's mother arrives in the midst of the women's sniping because she had sensed that something was wrong with her "chipmunk." Mrs. Wayne doesn't like Kinu any more than she does Whitley, so Whitley tries to take advantage of the situation by buttering her up. Kinu finally snaps and takes it upon herself to fire Whitley. Dwayne admits to Kinu that he cannot shake his feelings for Whitley. They decide to break up.

4x08 Love Thy Neighbor

16 November, 1990 4:30 am
Dwayne helps Whitley with her marketing project, but turns her down when she offers to take him to dinner. Ron tells Dwayne that he is being stupid and warns that he will lose Whitley unless he lets go of the past. Dwayne surprises Whitley by showing up at her apartment with dinner (while she is cleaning the oven in sweats and a jheri curl cap). Dwayne asks her to explain some of her actions, such as refusing to answer his letters during the summer and kissing Ron right in front of him. He is still unsure about whether he should trust her. Whitley concedes that she was wrong to play games; she says that she has come to appreciate everything Dwayne has done for her, and just wants the chance to be with him. She admits that she is in love with him. They are beset by a constant series of interruptions, and must finally seek refuge on the fire escape. Dwayne tells Whitley that he loves her, and they celebrate their new relationship with a kiss. During history class, Ron derides the homeles

4x09 Time Keeps on Slippin'

30 November, 1990 4:30 am
Whitley thrives academically after she begins dating Dwayne, while he gets the first C of his life because he spends all his time fawning over her instead of studying. He dreams that the C is the beginning of a downward spiral; and that he will end up a fat, lazy slob whom Whitley eventually dumps. Whitley wakes him up and offers him cookies, and Dwayne starts yelling and throws her out of the apartment. Crushed, she throws herself into her role as director of Ron and Freddie's video time capsule. Dwayne dreams that he devotes himself to science at the expense of everything else. He wins the Nobel Prize, but is devastated to find that Whitley married someone else. Dwayne apologizes to Whitley and explains his problem.

4x10 The Apple Doesn't Fall

07 December, 1990 4:30 am
Ron's father sends him a car to officially welcome him into the family car dealership. Ron cannot stand the business and wishes to become a professional drummer. Whitley warns Ron not to alienate his father, while Dwayne believes that he should pursue his dreams. Ron tries to share his decision with his father, but is too vague. Mr. Johnson shows up with a sports car for Ron and is shocked to learn his son's plans. Terrence disagrees with his father's decision to become the first black member of a country club. Col. Taylor reconsiders after discovering that the club must integrate in order to be eligible to host the PGA Championship. Although the head of membership insists that he has tried to break down the barriers for years, Col. Taylor doesn't feel the timing is right.

4x11 I'm Dreaming of a Wayne Christmas

14 December, 1990 4:30 am
Dwayne takes Whitley and Ron to his parents' house for Christmas. Whitley is desperate to impress Dwayne's mother. She sneaks out before dinner to buy an expensive present for Mrs. Wayne. After she misses the subway, a panhandler dressed as Santa Claus accosts her and steals the gift. Whitley stops the thief with some help from the police, but the gift is broken. Mrs. Wayne apologizes for giving Whitley a rough time and urges her not to try so hard. Ron's father punishes him for refusing to work at the dealership by cutting him out of the family's Hawaiian vacation. Ron seeks solace by stuffing his face with Mrs. Wayne's cooking until his father offers him a reprieve.

4x12 War and Peace

11 January, 1991 4:30 am
Dwayne's good friend Zelmer comes to visit and stuns him by announcing that his Army Reserve unit has been called to the Persian Gulf. Ron promises to show Zelmer a good time over the weekend before he has to ship out on Monday. Dwayne is confused by Zelmer's cavalier attitude, and expresses disappointment at the fact that his friend won't open up to him. Ron annoys the girls by barring them from his send-off party for Zelmer. Whitley, Jaleesa and Kim crash the party and perform a musical number. Freddie, who is opposed to U.S. involvement in the Gulf, cannot bring herself to share her objections with Zelmer. Whitley tries to console a shaken Dwayne; he and Zelmer dreamed of changing the world with their minds, not fighting in a war. Dwayne now worries that the same thing could happen to him. Zelmer confesses his fears to Col. Taylor, who tries to help him remain strong.

4x13 Ex-Communication (a.k.a. Fiancée What?)

01 February, 1991 4:30 am
Whitley receives a phone call from Julian and agrees to have dinner with him. She is shocked to discover that he is engaged to a runway model turned translator who speaks six languages. The couple is to live in Paris. Whitley cannot come to grips with this news, and begins to pine for the life of luxury that she gave up when she dumped Julian. A frustrated Dwayne comes to believe that nothing he does will ever be good enough for her. Whitley goes to see a shrink, who recommends that she seek closure with Julian and do whatever she can to win back Dwayne. Dwayne refuses to accept Whitley's apology, even after she begs for forgiveness. He assures Ron that he isn't breaking up with her; he simply wants to watch a basketball game in peace. Jaleesa goes all out to secure the account of a potential client who is obsessed with sports.

4x14 Risk Around the Dollar

08 February, 1991 4:30 am
Whitley has to cut into the tuition check from her father to cover her share of the rent. She looks for a job, but turns down every offer. She is especially repulsed by the possibility of working at a mortuary with Kim. Whitley helps Ron organize a party (with cover charge) at a local warehouse. The event is a huge success, but the fire marshal shuts it down and fines Ron and Whitley for exceeding capacity. Although Dwayne sells his computer to pay the tuition, Jaleesa warns Whitley that he may eventually get tired of bailing her out. Whitley hocks some jewelry, takes the mortuary job, and repurchases Dwayne's computer. Terrence returns from a weekend trip to Washington, D.C. and proclaims himself a Muslim. His father isn't sure that he has given his decision enough thought, and doubts that Terrence can maintain a commitment to the religion.

4x15 Love, Hillman-Style

15 February, 1991 4:30 am
As her marketing project, Whitley organizes a "Men of Hillman" calendar. Dwayne is offended when she doesn't ask him to participate; she doesn't consider him brawny enough. She finally lets him pose for the calendar, but superimposes his face on someone else's body. Ron finds himself juggling three Valentine's dates, as one of his girlfriends gets the night off from work and another returns early from an out-of-town trip. When he comes clean with the girl he likes the most, she is not as understanding as he had hoped. Jaleesa and Col. Taylor spend Valentine's Day together, until his bad back cuts the evening short. Matthew hopes to ease Kim's discomfort about being seen with him in public. Mr. Gaines tries to placate his wife, who complains that he is not as amorous as he was at one time. Freddie raves about a secret admirer, and is disappointed to find that it is Terrence.

4x16 A Word in Edgewise

22 February, 1991 4:30 am
Matthew arranges for some friends from the National Theatre of the Deaf to perform for the children from the community center outreach program. Kim feels embarrassed by Matthew's free-spirited behavior, which she considers too silly. Matthew insists that his passion for acting is as great as Kim's devotion to medicine, and offers the opinion that art is just as important as science. Kim cares about Matthew, but is uncertain about their relationship. She observes Dwayne and Whitley's example and decides that they can learn to appreciate each other's differences. Everyone teases Whitley about her tendency to run off at the mouth. Dwayne bets that she cannot go a full day without speaking.

4x17 Ms. Understanding

01 March, 1991 4:30 am
Shazza Zulu, a student in his sixth year of undergraduate work, publishes a book discussing the sexist behavior of men at Hillman. The women take his words to heart; they get really worked up and decide to boycott all men. The men respond with a boycott of their own. Everyone gets upset with Dwayne and Whitley for refusing to take part, and Whitley's friends try to convince her that Dwayne is fooling around with the female students he tutors. After a food fight breaks out at the campus movie theater, Dean Hughes calls a summit to get the two sides to work out their differences. The students turn against Shazza, who insists that he is trying to promote harmony. He singles out Kim as someone who has turned against her race by dating a white man. She tells him off and storms out. Ron, who had earlier expressed a similar sentiment, apologizes to Kim and admits that he was jealous.

4x18 The Cash Isn't Always Greener

08 March, 1991 4:30 am
Dwayne receives an incredible job offer from Kinishewa. Although Whitley and Ron insist that he should jump at the offer, Dwayne is torn between the job and grad school. He finally accepts, only to change his mind after his words of wisdom dissuade Terrence from dropping out of school. He decides to attend grad school and keep teaching, as he believes the job will always be available if he needs it. Jaleesa's visiting sister, a homemaker who is bored with her life, marvels at her independence. She wishes to emulate her, and Jaleesa must convince her that she can go back to school without leaving her husband.

4x19 How Great Thou Art

15 March, 1991 4:30 am
Whitley gets a job as an assistant art buyer for E.H. Wright Industries. She attends an auction in Washington, D.C. as an observer. When her boss steps out to take a phone call, Whitley disobeys her wishes by bidding on a painting from a promising young artist. Whitley fears that she will lose her job, but the painting turns out to be a great investment. Although her boss disagrees with her tactics, she applauds Whitley's intuition and enthusiasm. Freddie's new philosophical radio call-in show fails to attract interest because no one has any idea what she is talking about. She becomes a big hit after she assumes the persona of Jamaican-born "Mother Eartha" and distributes advice to her listeners.

4x20 It's Showtime at Hillman

22 March, 1991 4:30 am
The community outreach program loses funding after a corporate buyout, so Walter organizes a three-hour telethon to raise the $15,000 it needs to remain in operation. Jaleesa, Kim and Kinu sing, and Mr. Gaines tap dances (with musical accompaniment from Col. Taylor). Whitley's tribute to Josephine Baker falls apart when her male dance partners begin fighting over her. Dwayne begs for a chance to perform stand-up comedy, but suffers from stage fright. Although the telethon enjoys some initial success, the phones stop ringing during the final hour. The program only raises about $7000. Walter assures the children that he will find a way to come up with the rest of the money.

4x21 Sister to Sister, Sister

29 March, 1991 4:30 am
Whitley is placed in charge of pledges for her sorority. She lets the power go to her head, and is especially hard on Kim. Kim leads a revolt and gets all of the pledges to walk out on Whitley. News of Whitley's humiliation spreads across the campus, so she becomes furious and challenges Kim to a fight. They eventually settle their differences, and Kim and the other pledges are accepted to the sorority. Ron also handles the pledges for his fraternity. He devises a way to convince show-off Terrence to think more about the interests of his brothers.

4x22 Monet Is the Root of All Evil

05 April, 1991 5:30 am
Whitley organizes an exhibit to display the artwork of Hillman students. Mr. Gaines shows her some sketches drawn by Novian Winters, a young man who pays for meals with art when he is short on cash. Impressed, she struggles to convince him to take part in the show. The gallery owner orders Whitley to remove Novian's painting because he considers it sacrilegious. Whitley fails to back Novian because she does not want to hurt the other artists by canceling the show. Jaleesa and Freddie accusing her of selling out Novian to further her own career. She moves the show to the Pit so that he can take part. Walter is outraged when his visiting niece gets too friendly with Ron.

4x23 If I Should Die Before I Wake

12 April, 1991 4:30 am
Whitley plans to sleep with Dwayne for the first time on his birthday. The public speaking professor assigns the students to write their own eulogies. A young woman named Josie stuns everyone with her speech, in which she reveals that she contracted AIDS through unprotected sex in high school. Gina and Terrence display their ignorance about the disease and are afraid to be around Josie. Kim and Mr. Gaines defend her and advise the duo to become more informed. Ron worries that he could fall victim to AIDS because of his history of casual sex. He and Dwayne decide to undergo HIV testing. Whitley, still shaken by the news of Josie's illness, decides that she just isn't ready for sex.

4x24 Never Can Say Goodbye

26 April, 1991 4:30 am
Walter announces that he is leaving Hillman to take a job at a community center in Philadelphia. A roast is organized to give everyone a chance to say goodbye to him. Ron learns that he cannot graduate because he failed to take a European history course. Walter lobbies the dean on his behalf and convinces him to let Ron take the final. Although his friends help him cram for the test, Ron cannot learn enough in one night to pass the difficult exam. He wants to drop out of school, until Walter reminds him of his father's probable reaction. Kim receives a grant to study medicine in London over the summer. She and Matthew must head their separate ways, as he is going to spend the summer with an acting company in Seattle.

4x25 To Be Continued

03 May, 1991 4:30 am
Ron tries to keep his father from discovering that he did not graduate. He dons a cap and gown and takes part in the ceremony. When his father decides to stay an extra day, Ron finally tells him the truth. Mr. Johnson believes that Ron has been treated unfairly and tries (unsuccessfully) to plead his son's case to the dean. Whitley's boss offers her a transfer to the company's main office in New York. Although Whitley doesn't want to leave Dwayne and her friends, he believes that she must take advantage of this career opportunity. They decide to try a long-distance relationship, but Whitley overhears the depressed Dwayne tell Ron that it might be better to end things before they drift apart. She steps away from the window and does not hear him vow to not give up on the relationship. Before boarding her flight, Whitley tells Dwayne that they should break up. Dwayne chases after her and asks her to marry him.

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