New Series, “Bel-Air” May Miss the Mark on What Made the Original So Special
Superbowl Sunday is going to hit pretty hard this year, not because of the game but because of the entertainment that comes with it. This year Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar will perform for the half-time show; Jordan Peele will premiere a new film trailer and the reimagined “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” drama series, “Bel-Air” will premiere on Peacock.
I’m not exactly sure if the new series is being sought after, but I do know that people adore “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” as it is a staple in the culture. Will Smith was at the peak of his career when he stepped into the role that was literally created for him and mimicked his life as a West Philly native.
Derived from a short film created by Morgan Cooper, “Bel-Air” is “The Fresh Prince” reimagined digging deeper into the themes and politics that the classic 30-minute show could not focus on as a comedy.
In this one-hour drama, Will is forced to move to Bel-Air after pulling out a gun on the wrong person who will not rest until he is dead. Cooper aims to show the impact Will’s situation has on him psychologically and emotionally. The show is melodramatic turning the familiar storyline into one that audiences can sit and digest instead of watching passively.
All of the characters are seemingly the same in the series, with the same names and ultimately mirrored personalities.
Aunt Vivian and Uncle Phil are more sleek, sexy, and younger in the drama. The loving couple is played by Adrian Holmes and Cassandra Freeman. Holmes, who acts as Phillip isn’t the loving Uncle Phil we grew up with instead, he seems to possess secrets and an alterer motive as he helps Will get out of his situation.
Hilary is less clueless, although still full of herself I admire the use of Coco Jones to portray her—a beautiful dark-skinned Black woman with full lips and pride about herself. In the drama, Hilary knows how to cook, is a social media influencer and of course a lover of fashion and image.
Ashley is just as adorable and loving as the original, portrayed by Akira Akbar, the youngest Banks is a social rights activist.
Perhaps the least likable character is Carlton. In the vintage sitcom, though a square and unaware/uninterested in the “Black cause” Carlton was still an enjoyable character. In this new series, he is a spoiled brat who is ultimately a coon. There is not too much one can find to like about the new Carlton based on episode one of “Bel-Air.”
Jabari Banks stars in the series as Will Smith, just an updated version. As the show’s protagonist, he is the most likable character, trying to make sense of the new setting he’s been placed in.
I enjoyed the use of Philly artists in the soundtrack, the wardrobe and the overall aesthetic of the show. However, I doubt that this new show has the impact its creators would like. Though it takes us to a familiar place with a new twist, I believe fans will get bored and tired of the exaggeration of the series.
Though the feel of nostalgia is popular in society, I urge creatives to let it go and let the classics live on as they are.