Top 5 reasons to watch ‘Bel-Air’ this weekend

Check out all the reasons to watch Peacock's 'Fresh Prince' revival 'Bel-Air' this Super Bowl weekend

In a time when Hollywood is rolling out reboots and revivals at a warp-speed space, audiences may feel a bit of burnout on yet another remake. However, Peacock’s Bel-Air is the exception to the reboot rule.

The drama series, executive produced by Will Smith and inspired by creator Morgan Cooper’s viral trailer, “imagines the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a new, dramatic take on Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air,” according to the official synopsis.

TheGrio had a chance to check out the first few episodes of this season, and it’s a remake you don’t want to miss. Keep reading to see all the reasons why you want to watch Bel-Air this weekend, with help from the series cast and showrunners.

Fresh New Talent

Bel Air
Pictured in this screen grab: Jabari Banks as Will — (Photo by: Peacock)

The Peacock original series features a slew of young, fresh-faced actors with talent far beyond their years. Bel-Air stars Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Coco Jones as Hilary Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz, Simone Joy Jones as Lisa, and Jabari Banks in the lead role as Will.

Originally from Philadelphia, Banks was hand-picked by the show’s creators and Will Smith himself. The newcomer gushed about his experience working with Smith, telling theGrio, “With taking on this role, the comparisons are inevitable, right? And so [Smith’s] really allowed me to take this interpretation—he left this interpretation of this character to my own volition.”

“He was like, ‘This is you and lean on your own instincts, and trust yourself.’ That’s how I’ve been moving throughout this whole process, so it’s definitely been great.”

Purposeful Casting

BEL-AIR — “Dreams and Nightmares” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Olly Sholotan as Carlton Banks, Akira Akbar as Ashley Banks, Adrian Holmes as Phillip Banks — (Photo by: Adam Rose/Peacock)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was met with controversy when the original Aunt Viv, played by Janet Hubert, was replaced by a new Aunt Viv, played by Daphne Maxwell Reid, in the third season. This casting decision sparked a fierce debate about “Dark Skin Aunt Viv” vs. “Light Skin Aunt Viv” that still continues to this day.

Bel-Air‘s showrunners, T.J. Brady and Rasheed Newson, were aware of this when casting for the Peacock reboot and purposely chose a cast with darker complexions to address some of the colorism conversations that impacted the original.

“In the beginning, we were a little hesitant to be explicit about it,” Newson told theGrio. “But at some point, you got to go, ‘Okay, this is a family drama. These parents need to look like they created these children, it has to make sense.’ So you do have to make a very conscious decision of where the complexion is going to land when it comes to this family.”

“We decided to go with a darker complexion simply because you don’t see that very often on television—you don’t necessarily see it celebrated very often on television—and we decided we were going to go in that direction.”

Fashion Flair

(Credit: Greg Gayne/Peacock)

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was known for its iconic fashion and costume design, most especially seen in the Hillary Banks’ wardrobe. The original Hillary, played by Karyn Parsons, rocked designer jackets, ’90s slip dresses, perfectly tailored skirt suits, and standout ensembles. This fashion flair continues in the reboot, with Coco Jones showing off her signature style in every episode.

“I think the team did a great job of collaborating with me and also opening the door to collaborate with some amazing Black designers,” Coco explained. “We have some Brandon Blackwood, we have some Telfar.”

“I think every look is catered for the moment because, just like the OG Hillary, every time my Hillary walks into a scene, she wants to be captivating.”

Modern Day Marriage

BEL-AIR — “Dreams and Nightmares” Episode 101 — Pictured: Cassandra Freeman as Vivian Banks — (Photo by: Adam Rose/Peacock)

Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv had a beautiful marriage in the original series, but Bel-Air truly kicks it up a notch. The new Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv, played by Adrian Holmes and Cassandra Freeman, have chemistry that leaps off the screen. The twosome is affectionate, open, honest, and even sensual in the reboot, anchored by stellar performances from Holmes and Freeman.

“We feel younger but we’re actually older than the original Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil,” Freeman said with a laugh. “No matter how much you might hear people say it’s a gritty remake, no it’s mostly love in this show. The love has to start from somewhere, and me and Adrian known each other for so long already. So we had love to bring in.”

“The chemistry was there because we’ve worked on a couple of shows prior and so we just had that comfortability with each other,” Holmes added. “We felt very safe to tell these stories and showcase these relationships.”

“There’s an episode where [Aunt Viv] looks in the mirror and she asks Phil is she beautiful. He starts talking about her mahogany skin and her glow,” Freeman said. “It’s like actually a very sensual, beautiful moment between the two of them. It’s radical because he speaks directly into her features being beautiful.”

Nods to the Original

BEL-AIR — Season: 1 — Pictured in this screengrab: (l-r) Jabari Banks as Will, Jordan L. Jones as Jazz — (Photo by: Peacock)

While Bel-Air may be a dramatic revival, it includes several references to the original series that we’ve come to know and love. Throughout the first few episodes, audiences will see and hear subtle nods to the ’90s sitcom, including funny one-liners, theme song references, and set design choices that pay homage to The Fresh Prince.

Jordan L. Jones explained it best, saying, “In the original, the [cab] license plate said ‘fresh’ and had a dice in the mirror. I have that dice in the mirror [in the reboot], it’s already set up. When I come on screen [it’s like], oh there it is, the dice in the mirror.”

Simone Joy Jones also loved the references to the original series, adding, “If there’s a favorite moment for me that’s a nod to the original, it’s the jacket moment where he turns it inside out. Because I get to be there and I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ And then I’m like, ‘Wait, you’re kinda fly.'”

The first three episodes of Bel-Air will be available to stream on Peacock on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 13. Following the premiere, new episodes will stream every Thursday.

TheGrio is now on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!