The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is getting a dramatic reimagining from Will Smith and Morgan Cooper with Bel-Air, which takes the premise of the original ’90s series but frames it as a drama rather than a comedy.
According to THR, this project was in the works after a four-minute clip went viral and caught the attention of Will Smith. Cooper is a self-proclaimed Fresh Prince superfan and created/directed this trailer, which pretty much highlights the dramatic switch of the series. Cooper will cowrite the script, direct, and be credited as co-EP. It’s a really huge opportunity.
With all the nostalgia reboots going around, it’s hard to separate this concept from the complete overflow that has been going on, so I’m going to take a moment to focus on the positives. This trailer is honestly really well done, and with this slant, you do have the chance to talk about issues like class, police violence, and everything else in a different way than the original series.
Also, some new Black talent getting a chance to create some art? I think that’s great.
At the same time … do we need another series that overly focuses on the Black upper class? That is where the majority of Black media has been at the moment. We have a lot of Black original content, but a lot of it still leans towards a cis-het perspective.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an iconic show that is still watched, quoted, and beloved even decades after it ended. It is hard to build another show on the shoulders of that kind of titan. There’s not a great track record for pulling that kind of thing off, and when the reboot bubble bursts, I don’t want Black shows to be the first ones to get axed.
Original series producers Smith, Quincy Jones, and Benny Medina, as well as creators Andy & Susan Borowitz, are all set to return as executive producers of this new series. Chris Collins (The Wire, Crash, Sons of Anarchy) will be the showrunner and cowrite the script alongside Cooper. I wish they had brought on a Black showrunner for a project like this, but I guess that might have been too much of an ask.
I wish Bel-Air the best, because I want Black talent to win, but I also hope that it is prepared to wow us, because if you are going to remake the meme-king shows of the internet, then you’d better come out swinging.
(via THR, image: NBC)
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