Debbie Allen on the Social Impact of A Different World

Season 4 Episode 407
Aired on 10/26/2014 | CC tv-14
In the '80s and '90s, the groundbreaking hit sitcom A Different World didn't shy away from tackling the most pressing issues of the day. In fact, producer and director Debbie Allen says they were the first sitcom to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic, in 1991. "It was the first time we were told that the advertisers were pulling out," she says. "We couldn't even show a condom in a package. In a package! We had to point to a purse."

Now, more than 20 years after the final episode, Debbie reflects on the impact of the show. "We don't have a show that gives the voice of young people who are about what's happening in the country," she says. "We were political; we were about, you know, sexual [issues]; we were about fashion; we were about everything. Because in a country where the young people are silent, that country is on it's way down."

In the video above, Debbie and the cast talk about what they're doing today, including which actor is the voice of the green M&M. Plus, Debbie reveals whether there are plans to return to Hillman College.

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