The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

TV review by
Lucy Maher, Common Sense Media
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV Poster Image
Good-natured sitcom that the family can enjoy together.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 15 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 64 reviews

We think this TV show stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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. Themes include compassion and humility.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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.

Violence

Occasional high school fights.

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that two of the main characters of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 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.

User Reviews

Parent of a 17 year old Written bymye mye October 23, 2009

this show's is awsome

I love this show i'm watching it right now on 67.
Adult Written byAdamNY March 20, 2016

Great show but some topics can be quite crude

Swearing tends to be in the minium. This is a great show, much like "Seinfeld," but beware, some immorality is played off for laughs (like one episode... Continue reading
Kid, 2 years old September 16, 2011
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... Continue reading

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?

Parents can feel good about letting older tweens and young teens tune in to this sitcom. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air originally ran on NBC for six seasons in the mid-'90s and is now available on DVD and in syndication.  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. 

Talk to your kids 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 in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

  • 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?

  • How do the characters in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air demonstrate compassion and humility? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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