The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a cult classic and a revival, or rather a re-visioning, has been long overdue. Now, Jabari Banks was cast in Will Smith's former role as the new contemporary Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Guys... this is a big moment for me. I grew up on the Fresh Prince. I adored the Fresh Prince. I wanted to be the Fresh Prince, and I am hardly alone in this: Most 20-35-something year old black males will tell you the same. Heck, Asian males, Caucasian males and women will tell you the same: Everybody wanted to be the Fresh Prince. The show transcended color as an all-black show – in the 90s! If you don't understand how huge that is, then you don't understand the racism of our times. Thus, this show getting a revival is both huge, scary, exciting and... daunting af.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Revival: What We Know
Who Is Fresh Prince Lead Actor Jabari Banks?
First things first: Like Will Smith did when he took over the lead, Jabari Banks does not have a single acting credit to his name. Also, just like Will, Jabari Banks is actually a West-Philadelphia native. Yup, born and raised. Is there such a thing as perfect casting? Looking at Jabari Banks, there just might be. Go rumble, young man. Greatness awaits. I'm rooting for you.
Looked at his kingdom, he was finally there. To sit on Will Smith's throne as the Prince of Bel-Air. The legacy continues with Jabari Banks! pic.twitter.com/sDMJqYEOLC— Peacock (@peacockTV) August 31, 2021
What Happened to the First Fresh-Prince Remake?
Some of you might remember that a couple of years ago, Morgan Cooper reimagined the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a contemporary drama. Many wanted to see his vision realized: A much darker, much grittier take on a kid from the hood coming to age in Bel-Air. I'm happy to tell you guys that Morgan Cooper will stay on board as a writer, director and co-executive producer. Love to see a young independent filmmaker be rewarded for his creativity and vision like that. I applaud you, studio-execs, I applaud you for that decision.
If you haven't seen Cooper's vision, here you go:
What Will the New Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Be Like?
Different and yet, the same. No, this will not be edgy. No, this will not be a dark drama – though this was what the original showrunners had planned. The show has since changed hands and will now be a "broad-skewing network-style" series. Whether that's good or bad news... I don't know. I don't mind them not forcing social justice issues or edginess, but I'd hate to see them skirt many of the racial issues that plague the US. The original Prince of Bel-Air did a fantastic job at staying light-hearted, but addressing issues of greater significance with the respect, tact and urgency they deserved. I'm not one that's into everything being dark and edgy – life has enough of that. Still, we don't need more basic network fluff. Let's hope this re-imagining follows in the original's footsteps and is the contemporary Fresh Prince of Bel-Air we deserve and not a politically correct mess of tryhard moments and wokeness (Coming 2 America, I'm looking at you as a bad example).
Here's what the showrunners had to say on this:
[The show will take place in modern-day America and] dive deeper into the inherent conflicts, emotions, and biases that were impossible to fully explore in a 30-minute sitcom format, while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show.
The show already landed a two-season deal and is executive-produced by the head writer of The Falcon & The Winter Soldier. Now, if you watched the latter (or didn't): That's a good thing. Falcon & Winter Soldier had a surprisingly good touch in dealing with issues of color – a delicate touch, far from heavy-handed or preachy. If writer Malcolm Spellman can work his magic here again, we might just have a great one on our hands.