Bel-Air is Black Excellence

Ahadu Kebede, Staff Writer

Over the weekend, I decided to pick up the dramatic reboot of Will Smith’s sitcom TV show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I’ve never actually seen the original, so I went into this show not knowing anything but the basic premise. And after binge-watching the first season, I can say that this show is, as Coco Jones’s character puts it, black excellence.

Episode 1 already departs from the original show significantly, changing Will’s backstory from “getting in one little fight” to Will having to fire and point a gun at notorious gangbanger Rashad Denton to protect his friend, leading to his arrest and Will having a bounty on his head by Denton. This change makes sense in my opinion because it provides a real reason for Will to move to Bel Air, as his life is in actual danger.

Will’s new life in Bel-Air is not free of drama either. His adoptive father, Uncle Phil, is a rich lawyer running for LA district attorney and is a constant source of tension in the series, especially because Phil used less than legal tactics to get Will out of jail in Philly. Phillip Banks, while good-hearted, is oblivious to the fact that his relentless pursuit of victory in this election is slowly tearing his family apart, with his wife once again being forced to give up her art career to support him.

By far my favorite aspect of this modern-day reboot is the overwhelming amount of appreciation the showrunners have for the culture they are representing. Every episode is laced with music and cultural references that feel right at home with the characters saying them. Take the pilot episode for example, the episode is named Dreams and Nightmares, a clear reference to Meek Mill’s hit song, which is often called the anthem of Philadelphia. The way the show wrote Carlton’s character also comes in a close second for my favorite, as he is written as an anxiety-ridden drug addict, who while popular, has to deal with contempt from his own race as they all see him as a sellout. And his only real friends are the equally popular and equally disliked racist lacrosse players, who say the n-word to his face knowing there is nothing Carlton can do about it.

My favorite character though is definitely Geoffrey Thomson, reimagined from the original, Jimmy Akingbola plays a quiet British butler, who although shady at times, ultimately cares for the Banks family as his top priority. He isn’t seen much in comparison to the other characters, but you can bet that if anything big is going on, Geoffrey is somewhere in the background, ensuring everything goes smoothly.

I easily rate this show a 10/10.

Bel-Air season two breaths of air on February 23, 2022.