A Different World star Jasmine Guy calls out NBC for pitting the show against Martin
But though the show consistently ranked in the top 5 of the ratings during most of its six-year run, Guy said in a new interview that she and her castmates never earned the respect of their network — particularly when they were moved to a time slot to compete against another popular Black show, Fox's Martin.
"I definitely took that personally. You ain't got but two Black shows… so you put us at the same time against each other?" Guy said Monday on The Breakfast Club radio show. "And what had we done to deserve this kind of disservice? You know, we're not competing with Martin. They come on at 8:30, we come on at 8 — why did you move us? That was a detriment."
A Different World's success was often attributed to its placement in NBC's lineup between The Cosby Show and Cheers, though it ranked higher than both at various points of its broadcast history.
For context (and the love of nerding out over classic TV), A Different World was No. 2 in Nielsen ratings during its first season, 1987-88, landing between The Cosby Show at No.1 and Cheers at No. 3. It continued to best Cheers during its sophomore season, eventually falling just behind Cheers in its third. But for the 1990-91 season, ADW ranked higher than Cosby, which fell from the top spot for the first time since the mid-'80s. Cheers was the No. 1 show that year.
So regardless of being placed between two hit shows, A Different World was a hit in its own right, though it wasn't always treated as such, according to its stars.
Until its final season, A Different World followed The Cosby Show at 8:30 p.m., but with the end of Cosby, NBC moved ADW to 8 p.m. for its first nine episodes. The network continued to move ADW around the schedule, landing it mostly at 8:30 for the rest of its run and putting it in direct competition with Martin on the upstart Fox network.
Martin premiered in 1992, but despite its enduring popularity, it never ranked in the top 40 of the ratings.
"I feel like we have the same audience," Guy said of ADW and Martin. "And so what do white people do? Divide. You got two hit shows, let's put them on at the same time. They don't do that to their own shows. 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."
Guy added, "I feel they always said, 'Y'all came between Cosby and Cheers, that's why you're No. 2.' They said that to my face."
"They said it to mine," Hardison said in agreement. "'You can't have no more money.'"
Hardison then recalled that when he filmed White Men Can't Jump with Woody Harrelson, a Cheers cast member, Harrelson told him what he was earning on the sitcom.
"I was like, 'And y'all No. 3?! What?!'" Hardison said. "We went out into the field and found out [what] Cheers… was getting… I was like, 'How?!'"
"I know, that's when it hurts," Guy concurred. "When we talk to other people."
Watch Guy and Hardison's full interview above.
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