When Peacock announced it was doing a dramatic remake of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air we had a lot of questions. Now the streaming network is answering a few of those questions in the series’ first teaser.
Before you get your hopes up, there’s no footage just yet, but it does set the tone of what Bel Air will be. The clip features original star Will Smith giving his iconic theme song the dramatic voiceover treatment, while new star Jabari Banks floats in the water, getting “flipped, turned upside down.”
Per the official description: “Set in modern-day America, Bel-Air is a serialized one-hour dramatic analogue of the 90’s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air that leans into the original premise: Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. With a reimagined vision, 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.”
Bel-Air stars Jabari Banks as Will, Adrian Holmes as Phillip Banks, Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks, Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz and Simone Joy Jones as Lisa.
Do yourself a favor and check out the video of Smith informing Jabari Banks he got the part of Will. It’s such a nice, genuine moment of excitement and encouragement.
“At its heart, Bel-Air is a coming-of-age story that celebrates the strength and love of the Black family. We have stayed true to the original premise of the legacy series - Will’s life is turned upside down after he is forced to leave West Philly and lands in Bel-Air with its gated mansions and wealth, however, our new series brings Will and the Banks family into the world as we know it now,” T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, Executive Producers and Co-Showrunners said in a statement. “It’s been incredible to bring these iconic characters to life when you tap them into the cultural pulse of our time. The series was the fabric of so many of our upbringings, tied to memories and the joy of seeing ourselves represented on TV so it is important to us to pay respect to its legacy.”
Bel-Air is inspired by a dramatic parody video from Morgan Cooper that went viral in 2019, eventually catching the attention of Smith. In addition to executive producing alongside Brady, Newson and Smith, Cooper is also co-writing and directing.
“With this dramatic reimagining, we wanted to create a show that stands on its own while honoring the spirit and innovation of the original series. Because Bel-Air is a drama, we’re able to really peel back the layers of these characters and themes in a way that you simply couldn’t do 30 years ago in the half-hour sitcom format,” Cooper said in a statement. “We’re able to go have tough conversations that challenge perspectives. At its core, Bel-Air is a celebration of the black experience through the perspective of a family.”
Smith made headlines when he wrote in his new memoir “Will” which episode he thought the original “jumped the shark” with, per EW..
“The storylines were becoming increasingly hokey and it was difficult to maintain the ‘Freshness,’” Smith writes. “Anyone who has ever been on a sitcom can tell you the episode in which their show jumped the shark. Ours was Season 5, Episode 15, ‘Bullets Over Bel-Air,’ the one in which I got shot and Carlton started carrying a gun.”
We weren’t expecting that choice. We might’ve said the one where Susan Powter showed up and Will wore a fat suit or the one where Will and Lisa have couples therapy with the Jeffersons.
That being said, which episodes do you hope Bel-Air revisits, and which should it leave alone?
Bel-Air will premiere on Peacock in 2022.