Last watched August 2016 (up to season 3)
Will moves from Philadelphia (Philly) to Bel Air to live with his aunt and uncle after a run in with some bad folks back home. There is a culture clash, however, as Phillip, his uncle and Vivian, his aunt, have settled very comfortably into the wealth they’ve made and have long since hung up the grass roots activism of their old-days in favour of fighting injustice through the courts.
Will also has a semi-tumultuous (but ultimately loving) relationship with all of his cousins, in particular, Carlton.
I kinda grew up on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air so I am pretty bias when it comes to seeing the show with rosy coloured glasses. That being said, I recently revisited it as I wanted to write about it for this blog and my friend said it definitely still held its weight.
One of the very first episodes was about racial profiling and an unjust imprisonment of two black boys. I was totally floored (quickly followed by outrage and a little exhaustion/depression) because it’s still relevant, 20 years after the original airing.
Fresh Prince is a quintessentially 90s sitcom, so maybe don’t go into it with super high expectations. It has a lot of fat-phobic jokes at the expense of Philip, the uncle, a lot of short jokes and not-black-enough jokes made at Carlton. Hilary is essentially a vapid bimbo and there are a lot of ‘jokes’ made about how Will’s friend Jazz won’t leave her alone. He is a Nice Guy tm terrifyingly to a tee.
That being said, it’s a fun, light hearted sit com that actually has some killer politics. Considering we are still casting white folk in the roles of people of colour, to see an all-Black cast in a show that really does hit a bunch of important activist questions (about class and race, mostly) on the nose is really important.
Pros: racially diverse, genuinely funny, excellent progressive plot lines, decent discussions about the impacts of class and race, the fucking outfits will wears, rotating group of people of colour on writing team
Cons: fatphobic, sexist, misogynistic, rape culture, transphobic, queerphobic
Genre: comedy, sit com
Approach carefully if: you have difficulty with any of the “cons” listed above
Can be found: Netflix
Accessibility: subtitles 🙂