OK, so let’s just get this out of the way right now … Bel-Air isn’t a reunion, or a re-boot, or an update of the original sitcom. It is though, a re-framing of the original narrative with more gritty and realistic drama.
Set in modern-day America, Bel-Air re-imagines the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a new, dramatic take on the ‘new Prince’s’ complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air.
In this new narrative, the ‘Fresh Prince’ Will comes to terms with the power that a second chance can provide. He navigates the conflicts, emotions, and biases of a world far different from the only one he’s ever known.
The start is raw and dramatic, and the entire series has a killer soundtrack which I love. Some would say it’s OTT, but really, it draws you in and helps set the scene of modern-day life in both West Philadelphia and West Los Angeles.
The re-imagined characters, perfectly cast by the way, are well developed and believable. The series touches on many modern-day topics such as gangs, drugs, racism, adultery, social media, sexuality, and consent.
And for the ladies, a more than pleasant surprise is the glow-up of Geoffrey, the butler. Now known simply as ‘G’ the ‘house manager’, played by British actor Jimmy Akingbola, he gives off a very mysterious and questionable ex-gangster vibe. I look forward to seeing his character arc.
The original series was laugh-out-loud, cringey, 90’s comedy and starred a charismatic character in Will Smith, but it is important to understand the new series is not a comedy so is never going to be the same as the original.
The complexity of the characters in this re-telling is a refreshing change compared to the one-dimensional sitcom characters of the previous show. And, the new ‘prince’ played by showbiz newcomer, Jabari Banks, portrays the modern day street-smart teen to perfection, including the west Philly drawl and swagger.
To everyone who loved the original, this is not that. But this is still quality television. And did I mention the smokin’ soundtrack?
Yes, I’m getting’ jiggy widdit!
Watch the official Bel Air Trailer!