The above header photo is from the year 2020.
You read that right.
Because in 2020, everything that you thought was wrong is right and everything you thought was fixed is flexible—just like Janet Hubert in that iconic dance episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
But, let’s back it up for a bit. I want to take you all on my journey toward the wild discovery that, OMG, Will Smith and Hubert actually appeared in the same room for the upcoming reunion special of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air!!!
It was an early Thursday evening and I was aimlessly scrolling my Twitter timeline as an idle millennial is wont to do, when I saw someone tweet a photo of Smith and Hubert sitting in what appeared to be a studio theater setting, just yucking it up. The fuck?!
“Where is this from?” I quote-tweeted above the photo.
I spent what seemed like 4 years and 4 seconds (at the same damn time) investigating to see if I could spot any tells that confirmed this was Photoshop (as if I’m some damn expert outside of the obvious tells), then rushed to Smith’s official social media page to get the scoop. I found the following (click the arrows in the IG page to see the picture):
“Today is exactly 30 YEARS since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air debuted! So we’re doin’ something for y’all...a for real Banks Family Reunion is comin’ soon to HBO Max! RIP James,” Smith wrote on his official Facebook page, ending his caption with a heartfelt tribute to the late James Avery.
Well, shut the front door wide open. A sound that matched the expression of “??????” came out of me at that moment. Sure, this is just a single frame of what will be an eventual video, but I never even expected this to happen. I never expected them to be able to be in the same room with each other—smiling.
Here’s the calmer and more formal scoop of what went down, via a press release HBO Max sent to The Root:
Smith was joined by series regulars Tatyana Ali, Karyn Parsons, Joseph Marcell, Daphne Maxwell Reid and Alfonso Ribeiro as well as recurring co-star DJ Jazzy Jeff for a family reunion on set in the Banks’ home in this one-time special. Surprising the rest of the cast, Smith revealed that he sat down yesterday with Janet Hubert, who originated the role of Aunt Viv, for the first time in 27 years for an emotional reunion and a candid conversation.
Most of you surely realize the gravity of this happening, but as a quick refresher, the two haven’t seen each other for 27 damn years due to highly contentious creative differences between Hubert and Smith that led to her abrupt replacement by Maxwell Reid. Thus, the terms “Dark Skinned Aunt Viv” and “Light Skinned Aunt Viv” were born. And yes, the beef was real, to the point where Hubert would often take to social media several years after the fact and shade Smith via video with no apologies.
This. Reunion. Is. A. Big. Damn. Deal.
When the reunion special was announced, I previously wrote “I think we all know which Aunt Viv will be there” in the headline with a smug confidence, but even a tiny part of me knew 2020 could… 2020 her ass off. Because I also wrote this:
I’d be remiss to not mention the obvious here—obviously, only light-skinned Aunt Viv (Reid) will be joining the special. Still, it would be peak 2020 if Janet Hubert made a surprise appearance. Seriously, imagine Hubert entering the building doing the choreography from her epic dance sequence.
That surprise appearance happened! So, I now also fully believe in the possibility that she will reenact the choreography at some point. Anything is possible!
To accompany the excitement surrounding anything Fresh Prince, the upcoming dramatic reboot based on the viral video trailer scored a 2-season pickup by NBC’s streaming platform Peacock, who won the pricey bidding war against Netflix.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion Special (which taped on the exact 30th anniversary of the popular sitcom’s debut) will launch exclusively on HBO Max around the Thanksgiving holiday. Also, all 148 episodes of the show are currently available to stream on HBO Max to satisfy your nostalgic needs.