TV Review: Bel-Air, 1×2, “Keep Ya Head Up”

User Rating: 9

Bel-Air continues to be one of the bright spots on Peacock. “Keep Ya Head Up” focuses on how Will continues to adjust to living in California away from his surroundings in West Philadelphia. This causes continuous conflict with his cousin Carlton. Most of the conflict revolves around Carlton’s ex-girlfriend, Lisa. Carlton feels like he has territory over Lisa, while Will knows she has free will and can do whatever she wants. In addition to the conflict at the pool party, Will struggles to get on the Bel-Air Academy basketball team, made more difficult by struggling with PTSD following his incident on the basketball court that caused him to go to Bel-Air. Meanwhile, Hillary struggles to find her place in the culinary world as she wants to be a famous chef for a culinary website or magazine. Hillary is upset because, unfortunately, the magazine doesn’t want her variety of flair (they basically tell her it’s too Black).

There’s such a high level of subtlety to all the behaviors and conversations that take place in this episode that it left me feeling like I had just gone for a run. Jabari Banks continues to impress as Will. I really like the actor because you can see the decision-making process going on in his head before Will does anything. This is especially true when it involves any kind of physical conflict. Carlton acts as much like a bully as possible and has become a major adversary for Will. He openly treats Will like he’s t it’s gonna be he is scum on his shoe.

I like this adversarial relationship between the two cousins mostly because it leaves so much room for growth and understanding. To me, that’s really the ethos of this show. How an individual or family can grow and change despite being from different economic backgrounds. I love how Will’s friend, Jazz, is slowly being incorporated into the series. The original show had him just dropping in whenever he wanted and being the butt of the worst joke — a recurring gag where he was tossed out the door. In this iteration, he is part of Will’s healing process, and he increases his understanding of the new environment he is in. This is the correct direction for the character mainly because it gives Jazz added dimension he didn’t have before. Audiences ideally receive something new in the nostalgia, and I think what this show has done with Jazz provides just that.

Another aspect of this series, the music is very hip-hop-heavy. It’s not the kind of hip-hop you would find played on regular radio stations. It’s more curse-heavy but doesn’t overshadow the complicated present-day conflicts within the Banks family. I love that the music is not a distraction but more of an added character. It adds to something I found most interesting — watching Will make sense of how he could ever be good at basketball again. It’s just as well that Uncle Phil (and Jazz) helps to get Will over his trauma, which enrages Carlton.

There are so many fascinating dynamics at play that I can hardly keep track, which is not bad because it gives us many more story points to touch on before the episode finishes. This makes me eager to see what happens next and follow on the journey to see what bumps exist in the road. I’ll be delighted to travel along with this series until the end of its first season, knowing that a second season is around the corner.

Bel-Air is now streaming on Peacock.

Written by
Chike has been a film critic in Illinois for the last 10 years with Urbana Public Television. Most of his work can be found on their YouTube channel where his show Reel Reviews is posted. The films he enjoys most are the kind that surprise you with characters that are deeper than you could ever suspect. As much as he loves reviewing it’s the stories that are unexpected that bring him the most joy. He lives in Champaign with his parents surrounded by cornfields.

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