I am usually not for one for reboots. But the folks that created The Fresh Prince including the star himself Will Smith thought it would be cool to re imagine the 90’s sitcom.
After watching three episodes on NBC Streaming Service Peacock, I might be convinced that yes it was a good idea. While the story does hold with many of the plot points of the original, it has a life of its own. I will give you an idea of what to expect without spoiling the show for you.
Episode one has Will thriving at home in West Philadelphia, jockeying into position to earn a college scholarship for basketball. Then, the show plays out “I got into a fight and my mom got scared, you’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.”
I will not give you too many details but, the character “Will Smith” gets into trouble and gets a little help from his powerful Uncle Phil Banks, and his mother decides it is too dangerous for Will to stick around.
This facilitates the move to Bel Air, and the story begins. In the old show’s intro Will is dropped off by a random cabbie in the Bel Air version, Will is driven from the airport from one of his most important allies, “Jazz.”
That is how their friendship begins, they exchange info and stay in touch, as Jazz is also a transplanted Philadelphia native in Los Angeles.
Young Will is reunited with his family, first being a reluctant Uncle Phil (by marriage), who is a judge running for District Attorney, and is afraid his nephew will ruin his picture-perfect family image.
Will’s aunt and female cousins (Ashley and Hillary) are excited to see him, but Carlton is not. Much of the show’s first few episodes are centered on the tension between Will and Carlton. This tension was in the original show but since “Fresh Prince” was a sitcom it was played out differently.
But the cultural differences between Will being from the city, and Carlton being a spoiled private school kid were always a plot point. In Bel Air, Carlton is a big man on campus at Bel Air academy and feels threatened by Will’s presence and uses his influence to make Will feels uncomfortable.
I will not divulge what happens, but early on Carlton is the show villain.
Other plot points involve Hillary’s ambition to become a world-famous food influencer and chef. This is certainly a departure from the spoiled air head version of Hilary Banks that Karyn Parsons played.
Hilary’s ambitions that are not traditional causes some friction between her and her mother. Again, I will not divulge details I will let you watch to see what happens.
The last character I will talk about is Jeffrey who is English like the original Jeffrey, only he is the house manager instead of the butler, and he looks like he might be more of an integral part of the show than the original Jeffrey who only popped up here and there.
I highly recommend watching this reboot if you were a fan of the original show. It sticks close enough to the original to give you the feels of the old but is different enough to stand alone and be a good show on its own merits, and is very realistic to how this show or how these people in reality would exist in 2022.
The same way the Banks family was culturally relevant in the early 1990’s, this version is as well. Bel Air is worth your time as a stream. Check it out streaming on Peacock.