This really seems to be the year of reboots. Of course the one foremost on my mind is the upcoming X-Files revival (it’s not a reboot, guys!), but honorable mentions go to Twin Peaks, Full House, and most recently, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The timing of these rumours seems strategic, to say the least, coming almost exactly 25 years after the 10 September 1995 premiere of the show. But who cares? The more interest the better, I say—maybe the pressure of fan expectations will keep the reboot well on track. Because I, for one, have high hopes.
Part of the magic of The Fresh Prince was the quality of the core cast both as individual actors and as a group. Will Smith and Alfonso Ribeiro made a perfect couple; Tatyana Ali made for the perfect little kid looking up to his cousin and, eventually, growing up into a young, strong, independent woman. Karyn Parsons’ Hilary Banks was pitch perfect and a cause for constant and consistent affectionate eye rolling. James Avery and Joseph Marcell provided a well-balanced adult perspective with a dash of the youthful self that never quite fades away. With the massive pool of acting talent available, one can hope that the producers of a reboot—if reboot be—will be putting the time and effort into casting a group of actors who will be able to become a family, much like the original cast seem to be.
Another part of the magic was the relationships between the characters. As previously mentioned, I have been uncomfortable with some of the implications of favorites of mine such as Friends and The Big Bang Theory on the meaning of friendship. But the relationships in The Fresh Prince were different; although the characters teased each other (and sometimes mercilessly!), there was an elevated quality to their relationships that prevailed. Ultimately, they stood up for each other, brought each other up, and taught each other important lessons. They created a joyful environment in which all of the characters grew to become better people.
They also taught us a lot, both indirectly and directly. Indirectly, they gave us a model of family life that, although fraught with challenges, seemed healthier than many of the ones we see in shows today. Directly, the show balanced out telling day-to-day stories just for the sake of a good laugh with heavier stories tackled issues such as the equality of men and women and the scourge of racism and the menace that is violence. It managed to keep clear of becoming patronizing and yet made audiences think.
Since Will Smith is rumored to be serving as producer on the reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I am hoping he will be able to breathe some of the original series’ magic into whatever comes out of the current discussions, be it a reboot or a different take on the ‘fish out of water’ plot line, and that Lucille will make a special appearance.