How good is The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s dramatic re-imagining; Bel-Air?

Photo by: Brenden Cowan

Overall rating: 3/5 

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was an American sitcom that ran on NBC for six seasons from the years 1990 to 1996. In 2022, a dramatic re-imagining of the show came to Peacock. The modern Bel-Air drama meets expectations but doesn’t exceed them.

The original sitcom, starring Will Smith and created by Andy and Susan Borowitz, has a good reputation and was regarded as one of the best sitcoms of all time by The Rolling Stones.

Bel-Air , the sitcom’s re-make, started when american writer and director Morgan Cooper – who was a fan of the original sitcom – produced a dramatized mock trailer of the sitcom, titled Bel-Air (2019) and uploaded it on YouTube.

Will Smith noticed and liked Morgan’s fan film, leading to the production of a full ongoing dramatic series; Bel-Air. The new series stars Jabari Banks as “Will Smith,” alongside co-stars Olly Sholotan as “Carlton Banks” and Adrian Homes as “Philip Banks.” 

The writing and directing are both good. The show keeps the original characters names and even uses some of the same episode plots. All episodes have an engaging storyline and a mysterious ending that keeps the viewer hooked throughout the seasons.   

There are nice aerial shots of Los Angeles and the Bel-Air mansion that the show’s characters reside in. This gives the viewer an immersive experience of the show’s fictional locations. 

The show’s casting is also good. The actors and actresses are professionals at their job and are fully dedicated to their roles. Banks, who was a fan of the original sitcom growing up, has seemingly done excellent character study of the original “Will Smith” character. He uses some of the same mannerisms of the 90s sitcoms’ “Will.”

The thing that stops Bel-Air (2022) from being excellent is that there are some inconsistencies in what exactly the show is supposed to be. Morgan’s fan-made trailer depicted a very dark and gloomy drama that mostly uses a dark setting. However, the first season of the show, while still dramatic, is a bit more bright and feel-good, which does not align with the trailer.   

The second season started off like the first; however, a few episodes in, it has lost the original dramatic trope. By the middle of the second season, the show is almost a sitcom all over again due to petty relationship drama. While it’s still fun to watch, it can be a roller coaster for true fans of the show. The fan-made trailer, season one and season two are three almost entirely different genres. 

Going forward, it’d be best for the show’s writers to stick to a theme for the show. The second season of Bel-Air is currently streaming on Peacock. The show got renewed for a third season back in March.  

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