Welcome to a Very Special Episode of No Free Refills, a podcast dedicated to the messy, beautiful collision of pop culture and coffee.
In this week's episode, hosts Tymika Lawrence and Ezra Baker drink a cup of Idido Natural from Black & White Coffee Roasters in Chapel Hill, NC. This show is dedicated to the concept of the Very Special Episode, “one my favorite TV vehicles,” says Lawrence. “It's a way for writers to bring a serious, heavy topic into homes where maybe people aren't dealing with it… they humanize it by connecting with characters you know and love.”
Lawrence and Baker dive deep into classic episodes of A Different World, the Cosby Show spin-off focused on Denise Huxtable's life at a Hillman College, a fictional historically Black college located in Virginia. Honeymoon In LA—the two-part premiere of Season Six, aired in September 1992—starts after the “wedding episode” of ADW (“a classic moment of Black television” says Baker) and takes place during the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
“A Different World always did a good job of getting Black people from different walks of life, and different socioeconomic levels, points of view, showing them together… and it's pretty accurate! We do have different points of view,” says Baker. “Like literally anyone,” adds Lawrence. “Black people are not a monolith. Even inside of our community, we have different relationships to certain kinds of experiences.”
“Rewatching this show at this time is a little bit of a knife in the chest,” says Lawrence, as she and Baker weave this very special episode from nearly 30 years ago into today's moment. “Political disturbance is one part of the plan of multi-faceted resistance that works,” Lawrence adds. “How many Black women and Black men have died just in the last five years? It took literally protests happening in all 50 states and other countries to make a movement.”
Lawrence and Baker take us on an intellectual ride with this episode—intersectional, reaching across decades and shared moments and differences of opinion, exploring the source material but expanding to talk about the living history happening today and their own personal experiences within it. “This is a mindfuck for me to be watching this show as an adult,” says Lawrence, “and to say, ‘damn, we are really having these same conversations.'” Baker adds simply: “It's a mess.”
Was “A Different World” as Baker describes it, quote, “The greatest Black sitcom ever made?” This is your must-listen for today, and pairs well with a delicious cup of coffee and a review of the primary source material: Season Six, Episode 1 and 2 of A Different World is streaming on Amazon Prime.
No Free Refills is proudly presented on the Sprudge Podcast Network. No Free Refills is sponsored by Pacific Barista Series. Interested in partnering with the Sprudge Podcast Network? Get in touch.
Thank you for listening.