The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Common Sense Media says

Good-natured sitcom that the family can enjoy together.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Fairly standard "everything ends well" sitcom messages: The preteen and teenage characters get themselves into sticky situations but correct their mistakes in the end. The importance of family is stressed.

Positive role models

Positive overall, even though some behavior is exaggerated for comic effect. Some of the boys' jokes verge on offensive and sexist, but, when taken in context, aren't too bad.


Occasional high school fights.


Two of the characters are teenage boys who begin dating, so there's some talk of kissing and hitting on girls.


Mild: "damn," "jackass," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that two of the main characters are teenage boys and that some of their jokes can border on offensive and sexist. But taken in context and with a grain of salt, they're nothing worse than what kids hear at school or on the playground.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR is a feel-good sitcom about a streetwise teenager from Philadelphia who throws the serene life of his well-off relatives for a loop when he goes to live with them in Bel-Air. Will Smith -- back in the days when he was half of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince rather than a blockbusting action hero -- plays Will, an outspoken inner-city Philly teen whose mother sends him to live with his Aunt Vivian (first played Janet Hubert-Whitten and later by Daphne Maxwell Reid) and Uncle Philip Banks (James Avery) and their three spoiled kids: Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro), Hilary (Karyn Parsons), and Ashley (Tatyana Ali). As Will assimilates into his new surroundings, he learns about the good life and adapts to the Banks' carefree lifestyle -- and also teaches his rich relatives that life isn't all about how much money you have in the bank.

Is it any good?


Fresh Prince originally ran on NBC for six seasons in the mid-'90s and is now available on DVD and in syndication. Parents can feel good about letting older tweens and young teens tune in. Although there's some bawdy humor -- in the episode in which Will and Carlton start high school, for example, it's evident that their hormones have gone into overdrive, and they're not afraid to hit on every girl who walks by -- each episode leaves viewers with a powerful lesson on how to live life with dignity and grace. What's more, the Banks family is intact and portrayed positively.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how to handle situations you're not used to. How does Will deal with being a fish out of water in his new environment?

  • Questions about coping with high school are also relevant. What kind of peer pressure can teens expect to encounter? What should they expect when they start dating?

TV details

Cast:Alfonso Ribeiro, James Avery, Will Smith
Networks:Nickelodeon, Syndicated, TeenNick
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Great boy role models
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old August 27, 2010
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a really funny show. I now get up everyday (Summer) and watch it. This is where Will Smith first sparked his talent and potential. Though the show is funny, I'm ticked off about Will (the character) as a role model. In the show, Carlton is portrayed as a dork for being intelligent and sensitive. Will is portrayed as the hero for women with disrespect, and slacking off in school. This I believe will give kids ideas.
Kid, 2 years old September 16, 2011

Great show!

Great for 8+
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byrebma97 September 10, 2010

A nice family sitcom

I watched some episodes. It's a funny show to watch. Will Smith was really good in this. Parents should know that this show gets more mature as the seasons progress. Sex: Some flirting/dating/kissing; some later episodes talk about sex. Language: There is some cursing ("H*ll", "d*mn, etc.) I remember one episode about drugs, but otherwise I can't think of anything else that may be concerning.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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