Cartlon on drugs? I never thought I’d see the day.
As a die-hard Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fan, I couldn’t contain my excitement when I found out that there was going to be a dramatic reboot of the legendary ’90s sitcom!
As thrilled as I was to have my favourite characters back on my TV screen, I was also keen to see if Bel-Air would take the lead from its predecessor or create a world of its own. Turns out, there are a lot of similarities and differences between the two shows, and these are the most notable!
🚨 Warning: spoilers ahead for Bel-Air season one. 🚨
The overall storyline is pretty much the same as the original.
Bel-Air, just like The Fresh Prince, Will gets into a fight and his mum (Vy) wastes absolutely no time packing his bags and sending him to live with his wealthy aunt, uncle, and cousins in their Bel-Air mansion. Granted in Bel-Air, the stakes are A LOT higher but the storyline is essentially the same.
Will is still a basketball star.
While many of
Bel-Air’s characters are wildly different from their Fresh Prince counterparts, Will is actually pretty similar. Aside from being charismatic, charming and cheeky, he is also just as basketball-obsessed (if not, more). He originally planned to go to college on a basketball scholarship (you know, before he got into “one little fight” and his “mum got scared” and shipped him off to LA) and when that didn’t work out, he tried out for the basketball team at Bel-Air Academy and showed them all exactly how it’s done.
And he also wears his school blazer inside-out.
Some things just never change.
This Uncle Phil is just as passionate about making positive changes in the justice system.
The new Uncle Phil is running for district attorney which is a deviation from
The Fresh Prince, where Uncle Phil was a lawyer and then a judge. However, while they work in different areas within the justice system, their career goals are actually fairly similar. They both aim to use their political power to positively influence the justice system and call out bigotry as and when they see it.
Bel-Air also addresses issues affecting the Black community.
The Fresh Prince is a light-hearted sitcom, they always made sure to weave in serious storylines from time to time, many of which highlighted real issues affecting African-Americans. Bel-Air followed in their footsteps in this regard, dedicating ample time each episode to discussing injustices affecting the Black community – Including police brutality, systematic racism, and microaggressions.
Will and Uncle Phil have a love–hate relationship.
While the original Uncle Phil wasn’t Will’s biggest fan when he arrived in Bel-Air, he eventually grew to love Will unconditionally and become the father-figure that he so desperately needed. While this transition happens a lot faster in
Bel-Air, with the pair building a rapport in the first few episodes, it was just as satisfying watching their love-hate relationship transition into one of just love.
Aunt Viv is still the queen of telling people to STFU.
If there’s anyone that can humble you, it’s Aunt Viv. Many of us were gutted when they replaced the OG Aunt Viv on
The Fresh Prince because she was everything she needed to be – tough but fair, nurturing, loving, and incredibly classy. Luckily, Bel-Air’s Aunt Viv is just as iconic, giving great advice to those around her as well as putting people in their place when they truly deserve it.
Vy tries to get Will to move back to West Philly but Will is ultimately against the idea.
In both shows, Vy sends Will to live with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air but it’s only ever meant to be a temporary arrangement. Just like in
The Fresh Prince, when Vy informs Will that it’s time to return after the Rashad issue has been dealt with, Will actually chooses to stay in Bel-Air and make the most of the opportunities he has there. I mean, can we really blame him?
And Will and Jazz are still good friends.
In this version, Jazz is an Angeleno who runs a record store and drives a taxi (which is how the pair meet). While their friendship is fairly new, unlike in
The Fresh Prince where they go way back, they become very close very quickly. And with any luck, Jazz won’t get thrown out of the Bel-Air mansion this time around!
That “one little fight” was more of a life and death situation.
After a game of basketball went horribly wrong, Will found himself pointing a gun at West Philly’s top drug dealer to protect his best friend, Trey. Will ends up behind bars and Uncle Phil has to partake in extralegal activity to free him. And if things aren’t bad enough, the drug dealer wants revenge. Vy really had no choice but to send Will away in order to keep him alive!
Carlton and Will don’t ~exactly~ get along.
Now these two weren’t exactly the best of friends in
The Fresh Prince but they certainly weren’t enemies. They had very little in common and constantly took the piss out of each other, but they always supported one another at the end of the day. In Bel-Air however, there is a very real animosity between Will and Carlton that even leads to physical altercations. You could cut the tension between these two with a knife!
In fact, Carlton is nothing like the original.
This Carlton is nothing like the preppy, Tom Jones-obsessed Carlton from The Fresh Prince. He is manipulative, aggressive, and wholly unlikeable. A lot of his anger stems from jealousy towards Will and his inability to control everyone and everything in his life. On top of that, to help with his anxiety disorder, he uses illegal drugs! I never thought I’d see the day where Carlton Banks snorted a line but there’s a first time for everything I guess.
Will, Carlton, and Lisa are in a very messy love triangle.
Now in the original, Lisa was pretty much endgame for Will. She is introduced in the 5th season and the pair eventually get engaged. In this version, Will and Lisa meet very early on and their relationship is pretty complicated from the jump. Not only is Lisa’s dad the LA chief of police (which doesn’t sit right with Will) but she’s also Carlton’s ex – and he’s not completely over her. Who doesn’t love a love triangle though right?
This Aunt Viv is an artist.
OG Aunt Viv was an English professor and she decided to put her career to one side after having kids.
Bel-Air’s Aunt Viv made the same commitment to motherhood, putting her artistic career on hold while she raised her family but she has now come out of retirement and started painting again. And thank God she has, she’s super talented!
And Hilary is pursuing a career as an influencer.
This Hilary is still a baddie with an enviable wardrobe but she has a lot more to her than just impeccable style. She is a rising food influencer, taking Instagram by storm one meal at a time. She’s super ambitious, actually makes intelligent decisions for herself, and she even calls out injustice as and when she sees it, which is very unlike the original Hilary.
Ashley is into guys and girls.
There is one major difference about
Bel-Air’s Ashley – she is a member of the LGBTQ community. She confides in Hilary about her feelings for her good friend, Lucia and reveals that she likes both boys and girls. I, for one, cannot wait to watch Ashley navigate the dating world!
And surprisingly, Will isn’t a womaniser.
One thing about OG Will – he could never resist the urge to chat up a beautiful woman. In
Bel-Air however , Will isn’t much of a Lothario at all. Yes, he’s still a smooth talker but it isn’t his life’s mission to pull as many people as possible. In fact, he’s very respectful when it comes to women and we love to see it.
Geoffrey almost certainly has mob ties.
Bel-Air’s Geoffrey is actually a badman – there are no two ways about it. The posh, meek-mannered, sarcastic butler that served the Banks family day and night is long gone, this Geoffrey handles business – whatever that means. He’s Uncle Phil’s right hand man aka house manager, and apparently his job description includes paying off gangsters, making people disappear, and doing sketchy background checks.
What do you think of the new Bel-Air? Let me know in the comments below!
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