In the age of nostalgic fan service, the classic NBC sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is getting its own reboot for NBC’s new streaming platform, Peacock.
Even after the final episode aired in 1996, various video clips, phrases and the ever popular Carlton dance remain in circulation. But if you were expecting a goofy reinvention of the show from the ’90s, don’t.
The new series, titled simply “Bel-Air,” is a gritty dramatization of its predecessor’s premise that finds the main character, Will Smith, moving in with his wealthy uncle Philip Banks after a fight in his hometown of Philadelphia.
The original interpretation of this fight seems very comedic. However, “Bel-Air” depicts an intense confrontation involving a gun and police intervention. This occurs only a minute into the trailer.
Though a departure from the original, the show has received general approval from critics thus far, and an exciting endorsement from The Fresh Prince Himself, Will Smith.
He spoke about the production to Morgan Cooper, writer and director of the project, in a YouTube video.
“The concepts of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, re-imagined as a drama like a real kid from west Philadelphia, modern-day, a Black family in Bel-Air modern day?” Smith said. “The Carlton character, a young Black Republican modern-day?… What’s the Hillary character in a world of Instagram and social media modern day? Uncle Phil, a Black lawyer-turned-judge today with young black kids coming before him. Aunt Viv, a professional woman that decided to raise her family, and now that her kids are older, making her way back into the world of what is her life going to be as her kids are growing up? That is so rich, dude.”
“‘Bel-Air’ will dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions and biases that were impossible to fully explore in a 30-minute sitcom format, while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show,” said a spokesperson for NBC’s streaming platform Peacock in an official press release.
Evan Tinker, senior film major, said the choice to take such a dramatic stand on these topics may not be well received.
“I feel that there will most definitely be some mixed reactions from the people,” Tinker said. “‘The Fresh Prince’ is such a staple in the modern age of television, and it was like a Trojan Horse of a show, in the sense that while being funny and having its moments of drama, it touched on topics of race, sex, fatherhood, friendship, etc. So, a show of that weight being rebooted could be something that we might need now more than ever given the current climate of our society.
“It was such a special show that many people would agree should just be left alone. If it’s executed properly with the right intentions, I think it may be worthwhile.”
Peacock seems to be in agreement, as they ordered two seasons of “Bel-Air” based on a single pitch.
Peacock, where the series can be viewed, has yet to announce an official release date for the series.