The upcoming Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot has secured a two-season order at Peacock, NBCUniversal’s over-the-top subscription streaming service. The original NBC sitcom remains popular to this day, despite finishing its six-season run in 1996.
Typically credited for making Will Smith a household name, the sitcom followed the character of Will (played by Smith), a Philadelphia native, who must navigate a new life in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air. Though mostly played for laughs, Will’s experiences in his adopted hometown focused on a wide array of issues, from racism to gun crime to drugs. It was this mixture of drama and comedy that likely contributed to the program’s widespread success. The show’s opening theme has gone on to gain significant popularity as well, with lyrics that are known by fans around the world. Smith’s successful career as a rapper undoubtedly played a role in the show being made in the first place. Throughout its six seasons, Smith released two studio albums alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jeff Townes), who was also a recurring character on the series.
In recent months, interest in rebooting the beloved series has grown substantially, thanks to a re-imagined dramatic take on the concept from filmmaker Morgan Cooper. The previously unknown director wrote and filmed the short Bel-Air, which he uploaded to YouTube last year. Now, Variety reports that a two-season order has been struck with Peacock to stream Bel-Air. The new series will involve one-hour dramatic episodes that retain the characters from the original series, but with an entirely new cast of actors.
Cooper’s original Bel-Air short has been a massive hit on YouTube thus far, reeling in over 6 million views since it was first uploaded in March of 2019. The short focuses on the circumstances behind Smith’s transition from inner-city Philadelphia to Bel-Air and the resulting difficulties in adjusting to this new life. As Smith struggles with the rules of his very strict Uncle Phil, he finds ways of coping. Basketball appears to play a much bigger role in his life than it did in the original series, and his relationship with Jazz is formed after the two meet in a record store. It’s unknown how similar the new series will be to the Bel-Air short, but seeing as Cooper is on board to co-write and direct the reboot, there’s likely to be many similarities.
After announcing the two-season deal on YouTube, Smith appears to be thrilled with this new project, and for a good reason. Bel-Air is precisely the sort of direction that a Fresh Prince reboot needed to go in, allowing a far more realistic assessment of what would happen if a street-wise kid from Philly suddenly found himself dropped into the strange new world of Bel-Air. Hopefully, it will retain the sort of edge seen in the YouTube short, however, and not end up taking on more of a soap opera feel as the series progresses.