Hollywood reboots have become a parody unto itself in recent years. Common criticisms you will have heard (and perhaps even concluded yourself) range from taking themselves far too seriously a la Christopher Nolan to succumbing to the influence of marketing algorithms. So it was rather unsurprising when Morgan Cooper’s gritty fan-made trailer – which recontextualised The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air mythology in a darker, modern setting – attracted the attention of the original show’s star Will Smith and network NBC for yet another reboot.
Granted, some of our usual concerns surrounding rebooting a beloved property, sitcom or otherwise, have been assuaged by Will Smith’s involvement. But the fact remains: we’re dealing with a version of The Fresh Prince stripped back of all its charm – without the lighthearted humour and comforting presence of James Avery as Uncle Phil to counterbalance the show’s more serious moments. Important moments dealing with issues still relevant to this day (i.e. race, class, youth identity), sure. These moments, however, have traditionally required an element of sincerity and optimism. Anything less would be a great disservice to The Fresh Prince legacy.
“Set in modern-day America, Peacock’s new one-hour drama series Bel-Air reimagines the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a new, dramatic take on Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia [after an altercation on the basketball court] to the gated mansions of Bel-Air,” reads the show’s official synopsis.
“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.”
“The concepts in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reimagined as a drama,” Will Smith himself explained on a previous occasion.
“A real kid from West Philadelphia modern day, a black family in Bel-Air, the Carlton character, a black young Republican… the heat that would be stirred up between these characters.”
As for the all-important matter of casting, audiences will soon become reacquainted with the characters they loved throughout the 90s (and beyond) portrayed by an ensemble of the following fresh faces:
- Jabari Banks as Will Smith
- Adrian Holmes as Uncle Phillip Banks
- Cassandra Freeman as Aunt Vivian Banks
- Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks
- Coco Jones as Hilary Banks
- Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks
- Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey Thompson the
- Jordan L. Jones as Jazz
- Simone Joy Jones as Lisa
While the forthcoming Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot series is destined for NBC’s own streaming platform Peacock over in the US, you’ll be glad to hear it’s coming exclusively to Stan on February 14th of 2022 – check out the first proper trailer above.