TV Review: Bel-Air, 1×5, “PA to LA”

User Rating: 9

“PA to LA” focused on the idea that Will is stuck between two worlds. One world is the time he is currently spending in Bel Air, and the other one is his home in Philadelphia. Further confusing Will’s life is the arrival of his best friend, Trey. Trey lives, eats, and breathes Philly, specifically West Philly, and wants his best friend back. Will has adapted to living in California and doesn’t entirely see the point of going back to a place that caused him so much trauma. Carlton also discovers that Phil bailed out Will from jail based on the gun charge. This new information pushes Carlton to new levels of villainy, separating Will from new friend/love-interest Lisa.

This episode is themed around finding out where someone’s loyalties lie. In Trey’s mind, Will has been indoctrinated into believing he also has the same wealth as his extended family. This is, of course, wholly false but convincing Trey that he is still the same person is entirely impossible. The episode hits upon something that is rarely discussed within the black community. People always think that when you ascend to some level of success, you’ve forgotten where you came from, but the reality is you just grew differently, and sometimes people from home don’t see that. This story point is vital for young African American women and men transitioning from high school into college who are open to those new experiences but still feel the pulls of hometown life, whether chaos is involved or not.

While Will’s decision is one intriguing piece of this week’s story, the other complex narrative at play is the one involving Vivian and her eventual return as an artist. The art collector was flirting with Vivian, having been enamored with her previous work and maybe her as an individual. Watching her eldest daughter, Hillary, realize her dreams as a content creator, Vivian realized that hers no longer needed to be put on hold. Sometimes though, when dreams have been deferred for so long, we become our own worst enemy, which is what the show could be hinting at with this storyline.

The primary point this episode makes is that you should never be ashamed to grow, and I think that was what we were finding out when Will spent time around Trey in his new environment. This is such a good episode about what change can bring about in someone’s life. Bel-Air should be proud of this story as many audience members will find something they can take away from either the conflict between the two best friends or the uneasy resolution where you realize you are now on a different path than you were when you started the journey.

The road to becoming your own person is never smooth. Will and the rest of the family had to figure that out the hard way. The biggest blessing of the entire journey for the whole family is that they all have time to figure it out. Does the real question become what the consequences of those choices are? We will have to wait and see.

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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