From 1990 to 1995, Will Smith starred in the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the innovative, history-making, and hilarious sitcom. The plot and countless stories throughout each episode captivated us. We fell in love with the characters, and, watching it, we felt like a part of the Banks family. This ’90s phenomenon is still on cable TV and multiple streaming platforms. The original Fresh Prince never shied away from difficult topics. It covered everything from homelessness, sexuality, drugs, drinking and family trauma. The show will always be a staple in American culture.
So when we heard about a reboot, we were excited to see what the next generation had to bring almost 30 years later. Will Smith executive produces this funky, hip and new take on the series titled “Bel-Air.” The show is based on the short film by Morgan Cooper that reimagined what the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be if the sitcom was set in this day and age. “Bel-Air” premiered Feb. 13 and received outstanding reviews. While the new show is unfolding, we thought it would be nice to take a trip down Fresh Prince memory lane and highlight some of our favorite episodes.
The Fresh Prince Project (Season 1, Episode 1)
This is the only time we saw the full song of the opening theme. The first episode starts with Will drumming the beat of “Back to Life” on the door before he is greeted, to his shock, by the Banks’s butler. Will spends his time getting acquainted with his new home and family, and he sees the vast difference between his life and theirs. The show ends in an argument between Will and Uncle Phil about forgetting where you come from. Uncle Phil shuts the argument down with, “You have a nice poster of Malcolm X on your wall.” “I heard the brother speak.” Mic Drop.
Christmas Show (Season 2, Episode 12)
We all love a Christmas Special and each year the Fresh Prince did not disappoint. The episode, like most, is the perfect mixture of kid and adult comedy. This season, Will, his mom, the Banks and their extended family take a vacation at a Utah Ski Lodge resort. Will is documenting the whole thing on his camcorder. After spending the day skiing the adults head to a Christmas party, Will, Carlton, Hilary and Ashley stay behind in the Ski Lodge. However, the gang runs into a thief who ties them up and steals their valuables. The robbery leads to more family-orientated shenanigans ending with gratitude and a family song.
Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse (Season 4, Episode 24)
Will is known to be a goofball and positive light throughout the show. This very important Season 4 episode explores his deepest wound of all: an absent father. While working at the student restaurant, Will recognizes one of his customers as his long-lost, deadbeat father, Lou. After some coaxing, Lou explains why he abandoned Will and asks him if they could start a father-son relationship, and Will agrees. But, it wasn’t even a week before history repeats itself.Lou disappears from Will’s life, yet again. As heartbreaking as it is to see Lou disappoint him, it’s equally uplifting to see how protective Uncle Phil is of his nephew. Who needs a deadbeat dad when you have an Uncle Phil?
Mistaken Identity (Season 1, Episode 6)
This episode talked about police brutality towards Black people long before Black Lives Matter was a trending topic. Carlton saw the world with rose-filled glasses. Although Carlton lived a privileged life, he’s still a Black man in America. Will and Carlton borrow the family’s Mercedes while going to meet Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv. They’ve not driven for long before a cop pulls them over, convinced that the two stole the luxury car. As they are taken to jail, Carl is in denial, convinced that it is a case of mistaken identity. Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv come to their rescue and get them out. The most impactful part of the show comes at the end, when Carlton realizes the world is stacked against him no matter how powerful his father is or how much money they have because of the color of his skin.
72 Hours (Season 1, Episode 23)
Will and Carlton had running jokes throughout the series. Carlton would tease Will about being “street” and not fitting in, and Will would tease Carlton about being short and lame. In this episode, Will and Jazz witness Carlton and his glee club singing “Brick House” and clown him over it. Will makes a bet that Carlton wouldn’t last a weekend in Jazz’s ”rough” neighborhood, Compton. Carlton struggles to fit in with Jazz’s crew at first. But after Will and Jazz return from getting food, they discover, to their surprise, that Carlton has already fit in with the crew and is nicknamed “C-Note” after Carlton helped them with financial troubles. Carlton takes the bet too far and Will has to find a way to stop him from going to MacArthur Park at night to sell fake Gucci bags. So, Will rats Carlton out to his parents and they both get in trouble, which leads them to bond over their mischief.
Bel-Air premiered last Sunday, Feb. 13 on Peacock.