‘Bel-Air,’ the Gritty ‘Fresh Prince’ Reboot, Gets Two Seasons at Peacock

     September 8, 2020

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Will Smith knows how to Internet. While the “untouchable movie star” run of the 1990s has come and gone, Smith has pivoted to our new way of getting entertainment content with aplomb, regularly updating his social media channels with easily viral clips, stories, and perfectly packaged aesthetics. Thus, it’s both surprising and completely inevitable that Smith is directly involved with Bel-Air, an hour-long reboot of his own The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air inspired by a viral fan-trailer made in 2019 — and that it’s coming to Peacock.

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Image via WarnerMedia

This trailer, made impeccably by writer, director, and DP Morgan Cooper, captured the hearts and imaginations of the entire damn Internet, and for Smith to hop on it officially to help turn it into a series is the latest in his many net-savvy moves. Bel-Air will air on Peacock (not, curiously, HBO Max, where the original series library lives) for at least two seasons, picking up both in its initial order. Cooper himself will direct, co-write and co-executive produce alongside showrunner, writer, and co-executive producer Chris Collins (The Wire). Universal Television and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith‘s Westbrook Studios is behind the show, alongside executive producers Terence Carter, James Lassiter (Cobra Kai), Miguel Melendez (Red Table Talk), and original series producers Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy & Susan Borowitz. No word on casting just yet, but if they don’t keep Jerry Madison as Will and get some original cast members new roles, I’ll lose my dang gourd!

So what will this new series look like? It’ll be an hour, be set in modern-day America, have a focus on a serialized arc, be explicitly dramatic “while still delivering swagger and nods to the original show,” and mine the original premise of a “complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air” for more incisive, exacting, sociological examinations. And while I’m pretty rebooted out, especially of properties that were so special to me like Fresh Prince was, this new take does sound imaginative and different enough, and the retroactive sizzle reel shows enough promise in its storytelling and filmmaking panache, that I’ll be giving this a try.

Bel-Air‘s first two seasons will be coming to Peacock sometime in the future. Check out Smith’s announcement video and the original Bel-Air trailer below. For more on the series, here’s news on the unscripted reunion special coming to HBO Max.

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