Uncensored First Look: Debbie Allen Reveals How Roseanne and Tom Arnold Ended Up on the LA Riots Episode of A Different World

Debbie Allen on Uncensored (2020)
Debbie Allen on Uncensored (2020)
Screenshot: Courtesy of TV One

On September 24, 1987, A Different World premiered, which means this year marks the 33rd anniversary of the groundbreaking television series.


Known for its biting social commentary (that is still very relevant today), A Different World boasted several standout episodes. One of the series’ most notable episodes was from its sixth season premiere, which followed newly married Dwayne (Kadeem Hardison) and Whitley (Jasmine Guy) as they visited Los Angeles during their honeymoon. The episode aired six months after the LA Riots, so of course, art had to imitate life.

In an exclusive clip sent to The Root, Debbie Allen reminisces on that prominent two-parter episode she directed in her upcoming episode of TV One’s Uncensored. Given the uprisings occurring today, this episode is still very relevant.

Debbie Allen on Uncensored (2020) / Courtesy of TV One

Along with Gilbert Gottfried, one notable cameo in the episode was Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold.

“The big note we got from the network was about the white looters,” Allen recounted. “I had people coming out of the liquor store and I gave ‘em a line, I said say, ‘Free at last, thank God Almighty, it’s free at last!’...I thought I was going to hear about that. They complained about the white looters. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ So what did we do? We got Roseanne and Tom Arnold! We re-shot it with them.”

Allen described the moment as a “ratings victory,” since Roseanne’s titular TV series was a mainstream hit and the couple was a household name at the time.

In the upcoming episode, Allen will also open up about the significance of her dance academy, leaving the segregated south to live in Mexico, following up in the footsteps of her older sister Phylicia Rashad, having dinner with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and more.

Debbie Allen’s episode of Uncensored airs Sunday, Oct. 4 at 10 p.m. ET on TV One.



I was today year’s old when i learned this fact!