In 1987, the hit show A Different World, made its television debut. A Different World was the first television show to display the HBCU experience. During and after the airing of A Different World, the interest in HBCU’s spiked across the country. The show deflected  negative African American stereotypes and positively showcased college life of the young, gifted and black. Since, “The Quad” will become the second show in history to depict the HBCU experience, many viewers may hope to find traces of A Different World.

From a far, “The Quad” seems like a drama series heavily based around the fictitious “Georgia A&M University Marching Band.”  In the 3 minute trailer, “The Quad” delivers the following:

  • A newly installed and compelling female President played by Anika Noni Rose.
  • A band director with seemingly twisted morals and values.
  • Freshman students battling vigorously for marching band positions.
  • A multitude of serious chain reactions; caused by a brutal band hazing ritual.

Oh….and a 2 second close up of Jasmine Guy, most notable for her role as Whitley Gilbert in A Different World.

From the preview, my mind is anticipating a television drama focused on the HBCU marching band experience, which differs from the shows tagline; “Ever Wanted to Go to a HBCU? Welcome to The Quad.” 

The tagline insinuates that the show will either persuade its viewers to attend an HBCU, or evoke feelings of jealousy from viewers who passed on an HBCU opportunity. But if the marching band is not a personal desire, the trailer gives little reason why one would want to go to an HBCU.


Although, HBCU bands are most beloved, Historically Black Colleges and Universities are capable of more than a halftime show. Horrific band hazing, resulting in the loss of life, has already brought shame and pain to the HBCU community. Placing these entities as the main focus of an HBCU plea is problematic.

HBCU’s are multi-facet with deeper meaning and value. Most, began just after slavery, affording African Americans an opportunity to receive higher education as early as the 1860’s. HBCU’s offer a sense of family, that can sometimes rival the love of actual family members. Inside the walls of HBCU’s are mathematicians, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs future leaders and other successful men and women. HBCU’s have been and continue to be one of the staples of the African American community.

Yes, HBCU’s are full of energy, camaraderie and house some of the best bands in the land, but if we are convincing the world of its greatness, the camera lens must widen.

To be fair, a 3 minute trailer will not provide enough content, to declare a definitive conclusion of the show’s ability to display the depth of HBCU life. Although most trailers, aim to provide part of the purpose (while holding back a few surprises), the previews are never too far from the overall plot.

So, will “The Quad” bring back life to HBCU’s on television? The answer depends on how you classify “life”.

You can answer the question for yourself after “The Quad” premieres on BET in January 2017.

Click here to watch “The Quad” trailer.