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Diff’rent Strokes was by almost any measure a classic sitcom of the early 80s.  The premise, an extremely wealthy white man adopting two black kids from the projects, set the stage for many of the celebrities we see today going to Africa and adopting black babies.  (That’s a joke folks before anyone bites my head off).

Anyway, on to the tale of the tape…

Relevance: While the premies sounds ultra-dramatic, Diff’rent Strokes was a comedy 90 percent of the time (more on this later).  The roles of Arnold and Willis have defined Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges for their entire lives (for better and worse it seems).

Legacy:  Go ahead and say it: ‘What you talkin’ bout Willis?’  Now that we got that out of the way, let’s also credit Diff’rent Strokes for bringing us the next phase of Janet Jackson’s career (as Willis’ sometimes girlfriend).  You hardcore TV buffs also probably remember Mrs. Garrett started on Diff’rent Strokes before moving on to her own spinoff show, The Facts of Life.  Oh, and do you really think Webster was getting a greenlight if Arnold didn’t become the phenomenon he did?

Craft:  If you want to know what a top of the line 80s sitcom looked like, you could do worse than watching a season of Diff’rent Strokes.  It was so good in fact…

Crossover:  The First Lady (Nancy Reagan) appeared on a ‘very special episode’, encouraging kids to “Just say No” to drugs.  As I’ve alluded to earlier (but I’m sure you all remember anyway), Gary Coleman was EVERYWHERE for a while in the 80s.  I would actually be quite shocked to find a white kid of my generation who knew nothing about Diff’rent Strokes, now that I think about it.

Apollo:  You know I had to go here.  Arnold and Dudley make friends with the neighborhood bike shop owner.  They go home with him.  Next thing you know, they’re taking pictures.  Next thing you know, Dudley ain’t got no shirt on, and he’s hopping around on this cat’s lap!  I’m openly baiting you to go to YouTube and find this.  As an adult, it’s every bit as funny/creepy as it was to me as a child. 

The countdown continues in April…

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