Bel-Air’s back


Image courtesy of Peacock

The promo art for Bel-Air features Will Smith (Jabari Banks) in dress clothes in the streets of Bel-Air.

Marcus Nance, Staff Writer

West Philadelphia born and raised, a 16-year-old Will Smith gets into one little fight, and is sent to live with his rich auntie and uncle in Bel-Air. More than 30 years later, the beloved sitcom is being revamped, this time focusing more on the drama and real world problems that come with being uprooted from your home and moving to Bel-Air. 

The original 1990s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air focuses on Will as he becomes accustomed to life in the upper class. He meets his cousins, makes some friends, and dazzles his fans on the basketball court, all while attempting to retain his Philadelphia swagger. While the show touched briefly on issues such as racism and inequality, the show relied more on the humor derived from the relationships between the characters to drive the show. 

Bel Air, the dramaticized remake that aired in February, follows the same basic plot but focuses more on drama and character development than comedy. The show begins with Will Smith (Jabari Banks) waking up in West Philadelphia. As opposed to the original sitcom, which preferred to narrate the events of Will’s fight in one catchy intro song, Bel-Air focuses on how the fight came to be. We see Will provoked by a former basketball teammate and local drug dealer. It is not long after that until he is roped into a pickup basketball game later that night. After winning the game, things begin to escalate, and a fight breaks out between Will and a local gang member. 

Will is arrested but saved from going to jail only because his Uncle Phil pulled some strings to release him. After the conflict, his mother sends him to live with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air because she fears for Will’s safety. After arriving in Bel-Air, Will experiences the life of the wealthy and the upper class, and Will’s uncle convinces him not to waste the second chance he has been given. The Bel-Air remake delves into issues such as racial inequality, police brutality, differing perspectives in class, and substance abuse far more than the original sitcom. After only releasng five episodes of the ten scheduled for the season, Peacock has already renewed the show for a second season.