Bel-Air, a dramatic reinterpretation of classic comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, started in the US on February 13.
Here’s everything you need to know about Bel-Air.
What is it about?
It’s about a boy called Will – from West Philadelphia, born and raised, on the playground was where he spent most of his days – who got into one little fight. His mum got scared, and sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air.
Essentially, it’s the exact same premise – the same fish out of water culture shock, the same basic characters – but rather than doing it as a sitcom, it’s an hour-long drama.
Why does it exist?
The series is based on a 2019 viral video made by filmmaker Morgan Cooper as an eye-catching portfolio piece; it was intended to show off his skills more than as a genuine pitch for a new television show.
When the video went viral, however, it caught the attention of Will Smith, who thought it was worth pursuing as an actual television project – and so, almost three years later, here we are.
Who is in the cast?
Newcomer Jabari Banks stars as Will Smith. Bel-Air is the 23-year-old’s first television acting role, so he’s stepping into some pretty big shoes right off the bat.
Coco Jones plays Hillary Banks, one of Will’s cousins. Jones has previously appeared in Disney sitcoms Good Luck Charlie and So Random, as well as the film Let It Shine, but she’s best known for her music career as a singer and rapper.
They’re joined by Olly Sholaton (All American) as Carlton Banks, Akira Akbar (Captain Marvel) as Ashley Banks, Cassandra Freeman (Luke Cage) as Aunt Viv, and Adrian Holmes (Star Trek: Strange New Worlds) as Uncle Phil.
Most recognisable to UK audiences will be Jimmy Akingbola, who’s previously starred in Holby, and currently appears in Idris Elba’s 70s set sitcom In the Long Run.
Is there a trailer?
Yes, there is. You can watch it – and see a new take on a familiar story – right here.
Where and how can I watch it?
In the US, Bel-Air is available on Peacock – the streaming service owned by NBC, which was The Fresh Prince’s broadcast home when it first aired.
In the UK, Peacock is available as an add-on on Sky – meaning you can watch Bel-Air on Sky and NOW TV in the UK.
Why should I watch it?
No one would blame you for being sceptical, but honestly, it’s a pretty solid piece of drama. Arguably it shares more with something like Euphoria or The OC than The Fresh Prince, and it’s a little strange to hear them call the main character Will Smith (like having a colleague called Tom Cruise), but if you can set that aside and treat it as its own thing it does actually basically work.
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