If you grew up in the United States in the 80s and 90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was probably a sitcom you grew up knowing watching and watching religiously. I remember watching Full House, Family Matters, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air every week, and when those shows went off the air, I used to catch the reruns on various TV networks. For those who may not know, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was an NBC sitcom that ran from 1990 to 1996 and was the show that many would argue launched the career of Will Smith.
As we have seen with many television shows from the 80s and 90s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is coming back but not as one would have expected. NBC and Peacock are retelling this iconic story in a new drama series that will debut on Super Bowl Sunday (February 13, 2022). The first three episodes will debut after the Super Bowl, with new episodes released each week.
Set in modern-day America, Peacock’s new one-hour drama series Bel-Air imagines the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a unique, dramatic take on Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. As these two worlds collide, Will reckons with the power of second chances while navigating the conflicts, emotions, and biases of a world far different from the only one he’s ever known.
This new series is executive produced by Will Smith and was inspired by Morgan Cooper’s viral trailer (see above) that reimagined the iconic, culture-defining ’90s sitcom, Bel-Air takes a fresh and raw approach to this world of swagger, style, and aspiration while exploring Will’s complex journey through a current lens. The new series features an ensemble cast that introduces Jabari Banks as Will and a creative team including Cooper, who serves as director, co-writer, executive producer, and co-showrunners and executive producers T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson.
Here is the first look trailer for the series:
Each episode of Bel-Air will run 60 minutes, and season two has already been greenlit. Here is what showrunners T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, and director, Morgan Cooper had to say to fans about what they can expect from this modern-day retelling of the beloved 90s sitcom:
T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, Executive Producers and Co-Showrunners
“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. 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.”
“During the development of Bel-Air, the most daunting question was: Could we find a young actor who’d be able to step into the role of Will Smith? Well, did we ever find him? His name is Jabari Banks, and he won our hearts in the same way he won this role. Our creative team, including Will Smith, recognized that Jabari embodied the talent, charisma, and sheer swagger necessary to make this iconic role his own.”
Morgan Cooper, Director, Co-Writer, Executive Producer
“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 peel back the layers of these characters and themes in a way that you couldn’t do 30 years ago in the half-hour sitcom format. We’re able to have tough conversations that challenge perspectives. At its core, Bel-Air is a celebration of the black experience through the eyes of a family.
“My approach to the series started with a deep focus on tone and being intentional with my creative choices. Many things as a director inspire me; they could be a random conversation, memories from my past, art, music, and fashion. Everything can be an inspiration, and having a two-season order allows us to go infinitely deeper narratively, visually, and aesthetically. I think that with Bel-Air we have created something unique and honest.