To make any fan of 90s TV launch into a full-blown rap session, it just takes six words: “In west Philadelphia, born and raised.” The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wasn’t just the series that launched Will Smith’s acting career, and it wasn’t just a funny (and sometimes heart-wrenching) sitcom about family dynamics. It was a cultural touchstone that celebrated Black culture, art and achievement.
Last year saw the launch of the Peacock network’s Fresh Prince reboot, Bel-Air. The show is a remake of the original sitcom, reimagined as a drama series, following Will Smith (played by Jabari Banks) as he is placed with his illustrious aunt and uncle in glittering Bel-Air.
Season-two pick up soon after the events of the season-one finale, which saw Will meeting and immediately falling out with his biological father, Lou (Marlon Wayans). After learning that his mom, Vy (April Parker Jones), Uncle Phil (Adrian Holmes), and Aunt Viv (Cassandra Freeman) had been lying about Lou’s whereabouts for his whole life, a betrayed Will stormed out of the Banks mansion, with no plans and no cash save for a money clip Carlton (Olly Sholotan) slipped in his pocket. Following the blowup, Will has plans to regain his independence after getting lost in the Bel-Air bubble.
All this new-found freedom has introduced Will (Jabari Banks) to a new crop of people and a very familiar face in the Bel-Air-verse.
I’m referring to the actress behind Miss Hughes, Tatyana Ali. Ali played the core cast member Ashley Banks in the original sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
For the first episode of season two of Bel-Air, titled “A Fresh Start,” we catch up with Will who has spent the past couple of weeks crashing at Jazz’s house. During this time, Will has been playing pickup basketball games to make some money for himself. Through this, Will hops to meet a well-known basketball scout that will help him prepare his game for the collegiate level. While Will is okay with living outside the Bel Air mansion, a huge party for Ashley’s 13th birthday forces him to reconnect with his family and reminds him of the love that they have for him. Take that, and a long overdue apology from Phil, and it was enough to bring Will back home. Elsewhere, Will shines at an outdoor basketball court, Vivian’s new role doesn’t get off to a smooth start, and Jazz and Hilary find love while Will and Lisa put theirs on ice.
New episodes of ‘Bel-Air’ are available Peacock on Thursdays at 5:01 am EST/ 2:01 am PST.