“Now, this is a story all about how / My life got flipped-turned upside down / And I liked to take a minute / Just sit right there / I’ll tell you how I turned my goofy sitcom into a serious drama called Bel-Air.”
Read on at your peril, millennials, because the trailer for the The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air remake has been released and it’s here to destroy your childhood. Simple titled Bel-Air, the upcoming drama series will premiere on Peacock in 2022.
It reimagines Will Smith‘s iconic 90s sitcom as a gritty drama, which the trailer is almost comically overeager to emphasise. Smith gives a very dramatic reading of the original’s famous theme song (I still remember the words and I know you do too) as the new Will character (played by newcomer Jabari Banks) is shown falling backwards into a swimming pool. Objects synonymous with the sitcom float around him, including a crown and a basketball.
The premise remains the same: the show will follow Will as he’s sent from the mean streets of Philadelphia to live with his rich aunt and uncle in the affluent neighbourhood of Bel Air, Los Angeles. How will the new version update the story for drama? Will Uncle Phil have a pill problem? Will the Philly gang follow poor Will all the way to California? Will DJ Jazzy Jeff have his mixing desk stolen after a concert?
And this all seems to be forgetting just how well the original deftly mixed sitcom shenanigans with heartfelt drama: everyone will be familiar with the gut-wrenching scene between Uncle Phil and Will when Will’s dad leaves him for a second time, in which Will breaks down in his uncle’s arms, completely broken.
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The reboot has had an odd journey to here. It was originally a 2019 fan film, a mock trailer made to reimagine the sitcom in the style of Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther). So it was akin to that horrid and ill-timed Robin Williams fan-made clip that got everyone talking recently, except Peacock actually bought into this one.
It also recalls the new Buzz Lightyear origin story, which also promises a more serious reimagining of a beloved 90s comedy. Much like Cruella or Joker, there is a tiresome trend in films and TV right now wherein every character needs a gritty backstory. Where does it genuinely end?
Perhaps I’m being too prematurely unkind: Will Smith himself is on board as an executive producer and Peacock has already committed to a 2-season order. But I’m still nervous to watch it next year. And Peacock, please keep your hands off Frasier. That’s all I ask.
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