Bel-Air is a 2022 dramatised reimagination of the 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. The series premiered on Peacock on 13 February 2022.
The premise of the series is similar to the original; a young Will Smith (played by Jabari Banks) gets into trouble in West Philly and has to go and live with his more affluent cousins in Bel Air. While The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air was more of a comedy sitcom; Bel-Air is a dramatic coming of age story, dark and sombre where The Fresh Prince is light and funny, yet thematically similar.
"Nostalgia is a hell of a drug"
One reason I sat down and watched it was for the nostalgia of the sitcom from my younger days. It was a wild ride seeing how differently the series and its characters compared to how I remembered them.
Jabari Banks’ casting as Will was on the money, he captured the role so perfectly I would not be surprised to find out that playing the iconic Fresh Prince was a childhood dream.
Geoffery got an upgrade from being simply a suburban butler to a House Manager who doubled as A Fixer handling anything that needed to be handle in The Banks Family if you catch my drift.
Hillary evolved into a more than the skin-deep role and instead is scripted as a socially woke influencer socialite trying to find her place in the world.
And Uncle Phil… gosh they made him cool, surprisingly empathetic, flawed yet stepping up when it counts… oh and uber rich living in a Bel Air mansion that looks like an MTV Crib.
I didn’t quite like how they cast the new Carlton… The Carlton of my memories was a bit dorky but heart in the right place… Olly Sholotan as Carlton is confusing, he has carved out an empire for himself in Bel Air yet easily took the cup for my most hated character… but credit goes to the actor for carrying the role and the story arc.
One can never compete with nostalgia, reboots when weighed and measured will always be found absolutely wanting…. One can never compete with a memory.
Some characters were underutilized and some plot points just got shoved to the side such as Michael Ealy‘s character Reid Broderick or how Geoffery seemed to have an interesting backstory going on, unfortunately, his world is of the shadows…
I had half expected to find some of the original cast from Bel Air come through as a sort of crossover or at the very least having Will Smith making a cameo appearance would have greatly bolstered the show, considering he is the executive producer.
Had I never seen The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air in my life, perhaps I would have found the remake wholesomely enjoyable … but then again… it would probably not have been on my watchlist as I am not a fan of drama, even when its socially conscious drama.
Mostly I watched it out of curiosity to see how they could re-imagine one of the freshest sitcoms from my childhood and if they could make it work….
It ends on a bit of a cliff hanger which seems to hint at a second season of Bel Air…. And yes I would watch it when if and when it comes out.
What do you think of reboots? Have you watched Bel-Air… does it sound like something you would watch?