If you’re dead-set in the No More Reboots squad, believe me—I’m starting to join the team. I can’t remember a time where over-saturation has been this blatant and this in our face, but it seems like networks have come to the consensus that in order to get ratings, the only solution is to bring back shows that ended like, 8-30 years ago.
As they say, nostalgia sells better than sex.
But we can all agree that we wouldn’t have a problem with this whole “reboot” thing if the content was actually good. Or more original. Instead, we get carbon copies of the same show, or a bleak epilogue-like “reunion” that nobody asked for.
Now, this is the story all about how…
We know and love our ’90s icon, The Fresh Prince. His sitcom’s plot is outlined in the legendary opening. (I know you’re singing it in your head with me).
For those who aren’t aware, let me explain. Teenager Will proudly hails from Philly. He has friends, can hoop, and lives a good life. But he gets in a street fight over ball, his mom gets spooked for his future, and she declares, “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air!”
You can imagine the culture shocks, hijinks, and hilarity that ensues in this fish-out-of-water sitcom. It celebrates Black culture and showcases an unapologetically Black, successful, and happy family. It also analyzes problems in our society. One of my favorite episodes sees Will explain to his cousin that being rich doesn’t negate the fact that he’s still Black, and that money isn’t immune to racism.
So when The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s reboot was announced, fans were…nervous, to say the least. After all, its predecessor is loved by many, and reboots are famously…not. Then it was announced that the show would be a drama, and all hell broke loose.
But then it premiered on Peacock.
Will’s life gets flip-turned upside down
Bel-Air takes the original theme song’s plot and adds depth. For instance, we never see Will in Philly in the original. In Bel-Air, we see his friends, life with his mom, his popularity, even his love for cheesesteaks. It sets up the contrast to what he’ll experience nicely. We even see the fight, and the violence and weapons involved. It makes more sense that Will’s mom sends him packing.
And, I gotta say…the Banks family, Will’s cousins…woof. I won’t spoil, but the show explores addiction, code-switching, sexuality, and what being Black in modern America means to every character. Plus, Hilary’s wardrobe is A1.
Bel-Air is its own media, but it doesn’t lose what makes the original show great — the characters, plots, and what it’s like to be Black in America. As for reception, the show generally receives between 3-4.5 stars (way better than other reboots), with a 74% fan rating and 66% critic rating on the rotten fruit site. The gripes seem to have a running theme — the original was great, and this isn’t like the original.
However, that’s the point. Like I said above, reboots that are carbon copies aren’t good. Will Smith himself said in 2020 that “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.” We knew this two years ago.
I’m all for nostalgia, but I also like embracing what shows can be. So, do I think Bel-Air breaks the “reboot curse”? I do. It’s fresh and original. If you watch it, what do you think? Do you think it’s too dark to be recognizable? Or do you welcome change?
Photo source: Rotten Tomatoes