“Bel-Air”: Is It As Good As The Original Show?


Jabari Banks, the new Will in “Bel-Air.” The show is a modern take on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” that gives another view of the original show. Photo by IMDB.

In 1990, Will Smith’s career began on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The show’s plot follows a West Philadelphia teenager whose life changes when he gets into a fight and has to move in with his wealthy Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil along with their three spoiled-rich children in their Bel-Air mansion.


The show lasted from 1990 to 1996 with six seasons. It was a fun and comedic show. I still enjoy watching it whenever I can. Some friends told me that remakes such as “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” and “Young Sheldon” (based on the character Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory”) are not the same as the original shows. 


I was very skeptical yet hopeful when I heard Smith made a spin-off of the show he starred in and named it “Bel-Air.” It premiered on the streaming app Peacock on Feb. 13, and I knew I had to watch it. 


“Bel-Air” is definitely different from the original show. I was shocked that Smith turned it into a drama instead of keeping it a comedy. The show starts with Will, played by Jabari Banks, dreaming about being a literal prince. He wakes from his slumber, still in West Philadelphia with his mom. Then, it introduces his best friend, Trey.


The dramatic part of the show deals with themes such as conflict and violence. For example, Will and Trey meet someone who seems to have a problem with Will. The person threatens Will by pulling out a gun and declaring to fight him at the basketball court later that night. 


Will and Trey meet the guy who had an issue with Will, and instead of fighting, they have a basketball game. Will wins the game but gets into a fight with a different group of guys. He pulls a gun out on one of the guys, and the police come and arrest Will. This is what “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” does not show. It leaves out the hardship Will went through and goes deeper than what the theme song says.


At this point, the show left me in shock, and I could tell this was anything but funny. When Will gets to Bel-Air, he notices how beautiful and extravagant the mansion is. “Bel-Air” shows a different side of Will. I think Smith knew what he was doing, which is why I like it, but they went very far for some scenes. 


Carlton and Will in the original show did not have the best relationship but did not hate each other. In the remake, they despise each other. Near the end of the first episode, they even fight each other. 


I am still getting used to “Bel-Air.” The show has a lot of drama, so I needed time to process it, but it definitely shows another side of Will that I never expected. It is not bad, but it cannot measure up to the original show, which had its own style that pulled me into it. 


“Bel-Air” is more of an eye-opener to the kind of life Will lived in West Philadelphia, and it is relatable to people who can relate to his life. It is not lighthearted or funny, but more so a dramatic show for those who want to enjoy another side of the Fresh Prince.