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Throwback: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

October 30th, 2017 | by Helen Stevens
Throwback: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is still one of the best sitcoms our TV’s have ever been graced with. It was based around Will (Will Smith) and his move from the ghetto in ‘Philly’ to the swanky neighbourhood of Bel-Air, living under his Uncle Phil’s strict rules. The show was a huge hit for its funky fashion, hilarious one-liners, and truly iconic moments (e.g. ‘The Carlton’ dance). The re-birth on The Graham Norton Show in 2013, when Smith surprised the audience by reuniting with Carlton (Alfonso Ribiero) and Jazzy Jeff is one of those moments that will be immortalised in TV history.

First things first: Best theme-song ever? No question. From the first jingle of the tambourine you know what’s coming. You prepare for your very own world-class performance of the song that will never leave your brain. It’s everyone’s dream to master the lyrics and I think we can all admit to looking them up once or twice and unveiling our inner rapper to the rest of the family.

What made Fresh Prince so fresh is that it tackled social issues that are still prevalent today.”

Every character was designed, developed, and executed so brilliantly that the show would never have been the same without any of them (aside from the sneaky swap of Aunt Viv after season 3). Will Smith is without a doubt one of the funniest actors on and off screen and this role will always be one of his best performances. Whether it’s fat jokes at Uncle Phil, size jokes at his cousin Carlton, or ‘yo mama’ jokes with Jazzy Jeff, he is so naturally talented it is as if he is not even reading a script. It is hard to believe that he had little to no acting experience prior to the show!

With such a strong lead, you might expect the co-stars to appear as not so developed or not so funny. This was simply not the case. Carlton Banks – Will’s nerdy, unintentionally hilarious suck-up of a sidekick with some serious dancing skills – was a star in his own right and a well-deserved favourite with the fans! Their relationship is easily the most entertaining aspect of the show.

Best theme-song ever? No question.

Humour aside, what made Fresh Prince so fresh is that it tackled social issues that are still prevalent today. I remember being 10 years old and one episode particularly stuck in my head. Philip’s friend had given Will and Carlton permission to drive his expensive car when they were pulled over by a policeman, who them accused them of stealing the car and arrested them. This episode, along with many others, dealt with the issue of race in America which stuck with me because I had never realised how everyday this problem really was.

The show also dealt with the issue of class, gun violence, sexism, and parental neglect. Its most poignant moment comes in the final scene of an episode when Will’s father reappears, having abandoned him as a child. Will burst into tears after he does so once again, crying to Uncle Phil, ‘How come he don’t want me man?’ Uncle Phil rushes over to him off script and hugs him tightly, not character to character, but actor to actor, friend to friend: this was all too real for Will Smith.

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