A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Helping someone learn how to emotionally mature requires compassion. Maturity often entails self-control.
Positive Role Models
Will has potential to be a great basketball star and make a name for himself in college, but he has to grow out of being obsessed with narrow idea of manhood and learn emotional self-control. Still, he tries to do the right thing for his friends and family, even if he ends up making costly mistakes. Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv do their best to teach Will how to achieve his goals and achieve success, but Phil also has skeletons in his closet.
Majority of cast is Black, a positive contribution to TV and film landscape of POC characters. Show is based on a '90s sitcom led by Black actors and is produced by Will Smith. Different facets of Blackness are on display, showing characters who aren't defined solely by their race but have different personalities, beliefs, etc. The Banks family are also cast with darker-skinned actors, further pushing the industry to accept more darker-skinned actors in prominent roles. With that said, sometimes characters play on their more clichéd beginnings. But both series show different views of Blackness to the mainstream.
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Violence & Scariness
Fighting, Will shoots a gun in the air and points it at a local gangster. Will's life is threatened, forcing his mom to move him to Los Angeles. Will's friend calls him to let him know that they are both on the gangster's hit list.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Song lyrics have suggestive content.
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Language including "f--k," "s--t," "damn," the "N" word, "bulls--t," "ass." Exclamatory use of "God."
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Products & Purchases
Mention of Aston Martin in a song lyric.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Snorting cocaine; Hilary saying that she thinks her parents need "Indica" weed.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bel-Air is a reboot of the popular '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which starred Will Smith. Reimagined as a serious drama instead of a comedy, this version (starring Jabari Banks) has lots of strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," "damn," the "N" word, "bulls--t," and "ass," as well as scenes with drug use (cocaine) and violence (fighting, gun use, threats).
Is It Any Good?
Bel-Air is enjoyable enough as a dramatic reboot of the popular '90s sitcom starring Will Smith. In its new iteration, it's definitively edgier and more adult, with characters like Carlton snorting cocaine instead of doing the "Carlton Dance" and characters saying the "N" word. And while Smith cursed a little on the '90s show, the profanity is definitely more liberal in this version. Perhaps it's to differentiate from its fun-loving predecessor, perhaps it's to anchor it more in these more turbulent, social media-era times. Regardless, the overall effect cements Bel-Air squarely in the "young adult" type of drama.
This isn't to say that updated and coarser language is all the show has going for it. Indeed, the idea of fleshing out the sitcom into a drama provides writers more avenues to take on different aspects of Blackness that aren't totally centered around stereotypes, although some clichés certainly still exist within the characters' DNA. And centering Will's character more into Philly culture might potentially make the character much more realistic (but again, tropes of the Philadelphia inner city might make some viewers tired). Occasionally, the show's penchant for working classic lines from the original theme song into spoken dialogue is cringe-worthy, but, overall, Bel-Air isn't as much of a miss as you'd expect. It actually engages while having room for improvement as the season goes on.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.