Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison are on a press run to celebrate the 35th anniversary of “A Different World.” Guy portrayed the beautiful and snooty Whitley Gilbert, a student at the fictional HBCU Hillman College, where she meets and falls in love with Hardison’s character, Dwayne Wayne. The duo appeared on “The Breakfast Club” Wednesday, Sept. 21, where they discussed why the hit series ended after airing for six seasons from 1987 to 1993.
Charlamagne Tha God jumps right in discussing the show’s impact and diving deep with questions about the show’s ending. At the 32:27 mark, he asked if there was a “bigger” agenda to the “abrupt end” of popular black sitcoms with positive Black images in the 1990s.
“It only seems that way,” said Hardison. “But if it walks like a duck…it quacks like a duck.” He said, “I don’t have any evidence to support it or the optics.”
Guy then chimed in sharing her thoughts about NBC changing the time slot that “A Different World” aired on television during its final season. She claims the network set up the show to “compete” with other popular series at the time.
“Why would you change our time slot? And why would you put us against ‘Martin?'” she said. “I definitely took that personally. You ain’t got but two Black shows on the network, so you put us at the same time against each other?”
The actress continued, “What have we done to deserve this kind of disservice? You know we not competing with ‘Martin.’ We come on at 8:30 [p.m.], they come on at 8 [p.m.]. Why did you move us? That was…detriment.”
Charlamagne questioned if the change was due to “The Cosby Show” ending in 1992. However, Guy feels “A Different” World” wasn’t “strong enough to hold up” against “Martin,” which had reached mainstream success at the time. The show averaged a devoted fanbase of 11 million viewers in its first season.
“I feel like we have the same audience and so what do white people do — divide. You got two hit shows. They don’t do that to their own shows,” the 60-year-old explained. “So, yes, I do feel like it was deliberate. I feel like it was racist. I know who was running NBC at the time and I don’t feel we were respected.”
“Martin” averaged 11 million viewers in its first season, according to The Guardian.
Guy said the network confirmed the show’s number two ranking between “Cheers” at number three and “The Cosby Show” at the top spot. She recalls feeling uneasy when asked about it during a night-time talk show appearance with fellow actress Joann Rivers and host Dennis Miller.
“Sometimes I didn’t know how to answer it,” she admitted. “Dennis even said to me, ‘That was a horrible lead. Like yes, you f—-n’ insulted me, and you acting like I’m the s—-. Which one am I?”