When Will Smith moved to Bel-Air in the original 1990 series, he came with a chip on his shoulder that he expressed through comedy.
Here are six reasons why you should be tuning in to the dramatic reimagining Bel-Air.
1. See the Fresh Prince through a new set of eyes.
By October 2019, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Will Smith would be developing a series based on the trailer by Cooper.
J. Cole opens the song with bars that make hip-hop heads everywhere stop whatever they are doing to let his words hit their heart.
Another prominently known song on the playlist is Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares,” which is from his 2012 album of the same title.
“Music can also help clients identify emotions and reframe cognition,” says the therapist Cendrine Robinson in HuffPost Black Voices.
In an interview with the Fader, Meek Mill was asked about Robinson’s research. The rapper replied, “That’s what I make the music for, to be able to touch people. Even if you didn’t come from the hood. You don’t have to come from the streets.”
Bel-Air’s soundtrack is worth listening to closely while watching the show because, in filmmaking, there are often messages behind music choices. On Bel-Air, the character Will Smith is in real danger which is a build from the original series where writers wrote a lighter version of the Philly gang's storyline. To me, it’s an intentional and relevant departure that is intriguing because it relates to the real-life experiences of people like Meek Mill and the youth Robinson engaged during the therapy program in Washington, DC.
4. To get to know the cast of Bel-Air and how their characters flip into fresh versions of themselves.
Starring as Will Smith in the show is Jabari Banks, who happens to be from West Philadelphia, where the real Will Smith and the character are both from.
Adrian Holmes is Phillip “Uncle Phil” Banks. He was born in North Wales, UK, has Barbadian roots, and grew up in Vancouver.
Hot Uncle Phil
The gorgeous Cassandra Freeman hails from West Palm Beach, Florida, and has made appearances in Luke Cage and The Last O.G.
Will’s mom is Aunt Viv’s sister, which drives Vivian to fight to protect the young Philly kid — he’s her blood. And here lies the conflict between Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv on Bel-Air.
Cassandra Freeman and Adrian Holmes portray an ultra-wealthy Black power couple amid a political campaign with a troublesome nephew coming between them. It’s a far cry from the roles that James Avery, Janet Hubert, and Daphne Reid stepped into where Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv were most often on the same team railing against Will for his antics or whichever authority figure profiled and unfairly punished him. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air series from 1990 had an air of “after school special” whereas Bel-Air is giving more “nighttime soap opera.”
Geoffrey is played by Jimmy Akingbola, who is from London.
"The original Geoffrey was the suave Roger Moore-type James Bond and in our version, he’s more Jason Bourne. He’s got an edge and a swagger to him," says Akingbola.
Akingbola told the Hollywood Reporter that when he got information about the role, casting directors were looking to cast the character as a man in his 50s, but they told him to ignore the age. After his producer session with Bel-Air director and executive producer Morgan Cooper, Akingbola felt he screwed up his chance at the part. "I just resigned myself to the fact I’d messed up. I really wanted to come off the call. It was a massive audition I thought I’d messed up. But apparently, they said I was their first choice," he said.