In 2019, a fan-made trailer went viral. It imagined 90s sitcom The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air as a gritty reboot simply titled Bel-Air. People liked it. It was well made and, despite the gritty seriousness of most of the trailer, the joke was easy to understand: wouldn’t it be funny if this wacky sitcom was rebooted like this?
Well, it’s not a joke anymore. Bel-Air is real. It’s being turned into an hour-long TV show at Peacock, who have already ordered two seasons.
Will Smith himself has helped the show become a reality via he and Jada Pinkett Smith‘s Westbrook Studios, and Morgan Cooper, who created the original trailer, will direct, co-write and co-executive produce alongside showrunner and writer Chris Collins (The Wire).
The show will be set in modern-day America and have a serialised arc. It will reportedly be “explicitly dramatic while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show”, and adapt the original premise focusing on a complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air into a more incisive sociological examination.
There’s nothing wrong with making a show that examines the social and cultural differences within America, and no one is going to begrudge a talented young filmmaker his big break and a chance to helm his own show. But this reboot does feel a little like a parody itself, the kind of joke a satirical movie set in the future would make about how all TV looks twenty years from now.
Cooper’s trailer is really good, and obviously only went viral because of it’s connection to The Fresh Prince, but it would have been nice to perhaps see Smith give him a chance to create his own original series, rather than have to live in the shadow of a previous one.
Still, that doesn’t mean Bel-Air can’t be good, even great. As long as the show doesn’t just indulge in deep-cut references and nostalgic dopamine rushes, and actually seeks to tell the adapted Fresh Prince story in a serious way, there could be something here. However, if this series is a success, expect to see plenty of other popular old sitcoms get a similar treatment.
You can watch the original trailer and Smith’s announcement of the new series below.