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Flashback Friday - The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Fresh-prince-of-bel-air will smith  This is the story all about how a squeaky clean rapper's life got flipped, turned upside down, when—despite a complete lack of acting ability—he somehow landed a network television show that ran for six years.

If you were born before 1990, chances are, regardless of your knowledge of rap/hip-hop, you can pretty much recite that whole theme song as easily as you can say your ABCs, amirite? Catchy theme songs aside, this was a terrible show. Philly project kid Will gets sent by his mom to live with his auntie and uncle in Bel Air before he succumbs to life on the streets. I could write a friggin' dissertation on the class and race issues The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air poses, but I'll spare you, since this is a column about nostalgia, not critical race theory.

Fresh-prince of bel air will smith alfonso ribeiro james avery karyn parsons tatyana ali joseph marcell

A fish-out-of-water story, most of the "humor" of the show centered on Will's attempts to adapt to life in California with his conservative extended family and stuffy new prep school. However, as far as i'm concerned, the majority of the laughs this show garnered resulted either from the cynical barbs of the Banks' butler, Geoffrey, or the infamous Carlton Dance:

Good times.

There is a lot of argument about when exactly The Fresh Prince jumped the shark. Was it the birth of Nicky? His overnight growth into a precocious toddler? The completely unexplained replacement of the actress playing Professor Vivian Banks? The cheeky, fourth-wall-smashing references to said replacement? It's hard to say. However, somewhere along the line, Will Smith learned how to act and gave a powerful performance in Six Degrees of Separation in the middle of the show's run, going on of course to more lucrative turns as a big-budget action movie bad-ass. Not a bad outcome for a once bankrupted rapper.

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Jen O.

Aaaand now I can't scrub the song from my head. I'll be "rapping" it in my mind from now until another equally catchy song comes along. Just great.


*love* that dance!!!


A terrible show? C'mon: you have to admit, there were some truly funny episodes. When Vivian decided to become a dancer? Featuring music by C + C Music Factory! Comedic gold!


I loved this show and no matter how many people tell me it was horrible and completely unfunny I just don't care. The Carlton dance and the fact that the cast had a dance-off circle before each tapping is enough for me to live inside my bubble where this show remains quality TV. And I think Smith became good during the episode where he confronted his show dad.
Thanks for getting the theme song back in my head and for reminding me that my taste in good TV is questionable at best, Amber!

Washington "Suffering for Blogging" Cube

Never liked him. Still don't like him, and now we're getting his equally disagreeable, ambitious son. God help us. Re: the son. Listening to his quotes about his new martial arts film and how "stretching was the worst and I had to work through the pain." Yeah. Suffering for your art. Yaddayaddayadda. No. Not cranky today. Just don't like the family. Period.


The theme song is the ringtone when my husband calls me. He LOVED this show and will watch almost anything that Will Smith is in. Except that Happyness one.

Completely tangentially, my son is named Will. Not after Will Smith, as far as I know. At least, that wasn't MY intent. Hmm.


I was born before 1990, and ... I ... um ... never watched the show. Sorry.

wayyyyy before 1990.


There's a whole crowd of people born after 1990 who can recite the theme song, since this show is now on Nick-at-Nite.

I loved this show too (when it originally came out!) and am so glad your picture has the REAL Aunt Vivian on it! LOL.

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