On “Dwayne and Whitley Were Never Relationship Goals” [A Response]

I’ve never done this before, but…

The following is My response to Dwayne & Whitley Were Never Relationship Goals written by Jennifer Renee.

I saw this very, opinionated and detailed article via the xoNecole.com Facebook page and your girl HAD some thoughts. However, instead of just posting them as a comment, I decided I would just write it out and post it on my blog (mainly because I had THAT much to say).

Firstly: Before you read this, you MUST first read Jennifer’s article because, it’s though-provoking . And… I’m not going to be repeating much of what she stated, but I will be responding. Lol


So, let’s discuss, shall we?

My first thought upon reading this here article was: How one can say they watched A Different World over 50 times but come out with this… article, is beyond me.

Despite the fact that my dear Jennifer is ignoring any of the ACTUAL characteristics, flaws, and false perceptions of reality that Whitley had (and how Dwayne’s more objective world view was why their balance was what it was)… there are some significant things one must consider before we can proficiently rule out our beloved Dwayne Wayne from #boyfriendgoals / #husbandgoals.

Let’s discuss some basic television 101 in regards to our characters here.

Jennifer notes some extremely concerning realities of the Whitley and Dwayne dynamic. Many of which stemmed from their interactions during their Freshman year of college (otherwise known as “Season 1”). While there are reasonable objections to the first season dynamics of Dwayne and Whitley and WHY there was such a shift in their relationship upon the years that followed…

I think we’re going to have to chalk that up to the writing and production.

Now Jennifer is 32 (so we’re like the same age) and she should be aware and understand that although we’re talking about the characters as they replicate real life…. we have a bit of a skewed situation here because it’s a sitcom.

And we can’t act like the main reason Whitley & Dwayne’s dynamic WAS so different in season 1 vs all the other seasons is because the show was originally written to be about Denise. But when a young Lisa Bonet… shifted in her life for a year or so, they took her off the show…

You know what that means for a new show entering into its 2nd season without its intended protagonist? They gotta change the dynamics of ALL the characters and how they interacted.

In that, both Dwayne’s and Whitley’s characters shifted. Whitley was a little softer and more empathetic (because she went from being an antagonist, to the main character and she has to be likable as a main character) and Dwayne became a little less dorky (so he could be more attractive and the chemistry between the two felt more natural)… And the writers did a great job because we loved it.

So taking that into consideration, half her argument is thwarted.

*pats self on back*

Stepping out of writing/scripts & the like… and back into real…

Second, their characters were 18/19 when the show started…. as the show progresses over 6 years… they’re now 22/23… they’re supposed to change. Maturity, education, & relationships do that to you.

It’s expected. It’s not solely or, necessarily, mostly a reflection of one relationship. Both Dwayne and Whitley had other serious relationships throughout the years. Each one left its own impact on them. They both had career experiences and family experiences and other non-intimate partner related things that challenged them. They grew up. Together and separately. Why would we really expect otherwise.

Thirdly, I’m definitely taken aback by the insinuation that Dwayne low-key stalked Whitley or manipulatively kept tabs on her (especially considering Whitley HIGH key did the MOST when she was and was not with Dwayne). They, technically remained friends despite their relationship statuses and that genuine care for one another (because, again, Whitley played a VERY active role in their relationship) was reflected in their interactions with each other. I feel that this was not just intentional for the show, but also for reflecting the realities of relationships. Especially when you share the same friends and general living environment (‘cause they were in college living near campus).

And let’s just briefly touch on the idea of Dwayne being someone Whitley was “settling” for. There’s truth to Dwayne not being Whitley’s “type”, but that’s because her “type” or preference was almost completely superficial. And that’s not even saying much since, technically, that career-wise, our boy Dwayne was doing EXTREMELY well. Not only was he a professor he was actively working and making significant progress in his field as an engineer. Yea, Byron’s career would have led to a potentially more public affluence, Dwayne’s income was almost guaranteed to be greater. That was one of Whitley’s first moments of attraction to Dwayne (ponders the business card in the bra scene). Whitley was the one who took a bit to get her bearings in a specific career choice (since she pretty much only went to college because that was expected of her). Dwayne and Byron were actually very similar in personality, relational skills, & ambition. They were both relatively kind, loved their mothers, supported and served their communities, and were intelligent. So where exactly was Byron more of a match than Dwayne (aside from, maybe, age?)

And finally, there’s a major assumption and misinterpretation, really, that Whitley had no flaws. We know she had flaws. One of them being, her materialism (which came into play a LOT during their marriage and all her relationships with men really) as well as her need to do whatever it took to please her parents (especially her mom). And it was pretty clear that THIS dynamic was one that prevented Whitley from being her true self the majority of the time.

The idea that Byron wanted Whitley for her is false. In regards to personality, Byron was like Barack during his campaign: He was considered humble, down to earth. Not wealthy, but charismatic enough to gain the attention and respect of the wealthy. Whitley looked down on him a bit and even his mother for not being of higher class. (We’re forgetting Whitley’s bridal shower before the wedding, are we?) Byron, on more than one occasion belittled Whitley and considered her more of a trophy wife with potential versus actually truly believing that she had valid opinions and beliefs of her own (especially by the time HE met her). While he didn’t need her to “pressure” him… he didn’t see her fully.

However, Dwayne did. Because he saw not only her growth, but his own. In THAT way, yes, she became a reflection of him… but, honestly, he became more of a reflection of her.

So if we’re going to talk about Dwayne’s flaws, we can agree he had messy moments.

No, women should not feel like they have to settle for someone who isn’t ready for a real commitment yet.

And women should also pay attention to those signs (as they WILL show up).

We also have to be self-reflective enough to see how we need to adjust and accept “how maturing love can be” 🎶🎶 (idk, but I felt that Lauryn Hill quote fit). And make sure their is proof of this part.

But really, Dwayne and Whitley were just in the perfect position to continue to grow together. And that’s important. Not something to be looked down on or disregarded as a “toxic” relationship. It’s something that many young adults can look forward to. Growing with someone who reciprocally gives you space to grow… with grace.

Ok. I have one last thing to add….

The characters of A Different World were very young adults. I believe there are and should be very different expectations of young adults in relationships and adults 30+. We gotta date different. But we also have to live single differently. There’s more to that, but ultimately I don’t necessarily consider Dwayne and Whitley “Relationship goals” either but it’s mainly because… they’re fiction. 🤷🏾‍♀️


Love Always,

Be 💛

Link to original article: Here