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5 Shows like Diff’rent Strokes: Black America on TV

samar2One of the first TV shows to deal with race relations in America, ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, is titled in reference to the pronounciation of two black kids from Harlem, who are welcomed into the family of a wealthy white New York businessman after their mother passes away.

Since the 1970s, American TV has come a long away in depicting mixed race and black families and race relations in general. These TV shows like ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ are some of the classics of the genre from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. ~ Samar N

Shows Similar To ‘Diff’rent Strokes’

This article recommends an underrated title, a must-see title, an unknown title, an ‘if you like, you will like’ title and an unexpected title so you have different options when it comes to choosing your next movie to watch.



‘Punky Brewster’ (NBC, 1984 – 1988)

In a similar plot to ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, ‘Punky Brewster’ is about a child abandoned by her parents and adopted by a misanthropic photographer, Henry.

Punky won the hearts of many viewers just as she and her dog, Brandon, won Henry’s heart and taught him how to enjoy life.

The show also features a partly black cast, including Cherie Johnson, Punky’s best friend and neighbor, and her grandmother.


Similarity Match

A spunky little girl brightens up her foster father's life.



‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ (NBC, 1990 – 1996)

In this series similar to ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, Will Smith plays Will (essentially, himself), a funky-fresh inner city kid from Philly sent by his mum to live with his relatives in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air.

Will’s working class background clashes with the Banks’ bourgeois ways – often comically – and both sides find that they have a thing or two to learn from each other.


Similarity Match

Will Smith plays himself, a smooth misfit who turns things upside down in swanky Bel Air.



‘The Proud Family’ (Disney, 2001 – 2005)

An often overlooked animated comedic gem follows Penny Proud and her odd-ball family: a strict father (Oscar), doting mother (Trudy), little brother (Cece) and sister (Bebe), and, my personal favourite, her hard-core grandmother, Suga Mama.


Similarity Match

The Proud Family are a warm, affectionate group.



‘Family Matters’ (CBS, 1989 – 1998)

The Winslows are your average black Chicago family – except when it comes to their dealings with their klutzy neighbour, Steve Urkel!

A common theme is that Steve professes his undying love for their daughter, Laura Lee, who, sadly, finds him repulsive.


Similarity Match

An average family gets a healthy injection of weird from resident dweeb, Steve Urkel.


If You Like ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, You Will Like

‘The Cosby Show’ (NBC, 1984 – 1992)

Many years before the scandal surrounding Bill Cosby, ‘The Cosby Show’ was a warm-hearted family TV drama.

Cosby plays Doctor Heathcliff Huxtable who, along with his wife Clair, raise their five children and watch them leave home to get married.

But as their parents raised them right, the kids keep coming back home, which periodically annoys Cliff, who remains an observer of family life.


Similarity Match

A family comedy show based on the stand-up routine of Bill Cosby.


Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Here are some TV series like ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ that I hope you will enjoy!

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