New year, same Hollywood dipping into the archive of beloved shows to reimagine for new audiences. First on 2022’s reboot list is Bel-Air, a darker, more mature take on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
In 2019, writer and director Morgan Cooper went viral after sharing a trailer for Bel-Air, his spin on the popular comedy sitcom that ruled the 1990s. Using The Fresh Prince’s storyline as a foundation, Cooper’s four-minute clip dug deeper into the real-life consequences of the on-court Philly skirmish that sent Will (Will Smith) to that iconic Bel-Air mansion. The trailer, which quickly racked up millions of views within a matter of days, caught the eye of Smith and led to the pair working together to bring Cooper’s vision to life.
That collaboration brings us Bel-Air, a new drama set to air on NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock. In the first official trailer, released today, we learn that this story won’t stick to The Fresh Prince’s script; Smith and Cooper made quite a few changes. While Will (Jabari Banks) struggles to fit in at his fancy new surroundings, Carlton (played by Olly Sholotan) is actually cool. Unlike her 90s predecessor, this version of fashion icon Hilary (Coco Jones) is dark-skinned. And Uncle Phil? Yeah, he’s fine now. Like, really fine. (Shoutout to Adrian Holmes.) In addition to its jarringly attractive cast, the overall vibe of the new show looks to be much more serious than the original, seemingly delving into the nuances of police brutality and class consciousness in a way that might have proved difficult for a Black sitcom in the 90s.
Though early reactions to the trailer run the gamut — after all, The Fresh Prince is a sacred show, and not everything needs to be rebooted — true fans of the series can count on the core message of Black excellence and the importance of Black family to remain the same. Even with its new look and cast, Bel-Air is still a story about a kid from West Philly who gets his life flip-turned upside down but is able to mature into a man with the help of the people he loves.
“A real man takes responsibility for his actions,” says a stern (and sexy) Uncle Phil in the trailer. “A real man knows when to let go of his pride and make the most of his second chance.”
Will Bel-Air be able to live up to the legacy of the show that inspired it? Find out when the new series premieres on February 13, only on Peacock.