There’s good news and bad news for those who have spent most of 2020 binge-watching ’90s sitcoms.
The good news is that Will Smith is officially bringing back the The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
The bad news (at least for the severely emotionally fragile among us) is that it’s going to be less after-school sitcom, more poignant drama.
The concept for the reboot stems from director Morgan Cooper’s film short Bel-Air – a fan trailer Cooper uploaded to YouTube in March 2019.
Millions of views later, it caught the attention of Smith himself – who loved its dark, gritty spin on the West Philadelphia teenager’s move to LA. A month later, Smith interviewed Cooper for his own YouTube channel in Miami. “I grew up watching the show,” Cooper explained of his decision to make the four-minute clip. “It’s always been a part of me.”
Cut to 2020, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air super-fan has been tapped to write, direct, and produce his own take on the series that made Smith a household name.
Rather than taking place in the ’90s, Cooper’s version is set in contemporary America – but it may well revisit some of the storylines that played out in the original Fresh Prince, albeit in an hour-long drama format.
“As funny as the episodes are, there was a whole other layer that you couldn’t do,” Smith reflects of the original programme. “In a one-hour drama, you can get eight episode arcs.”
Smith is also clear in the YouTube interview that the Fresh Prince was never as lighthearted as many thought. “For me, I moved to LA and started the Fresh Prince and all of my friends started getting killed and going to jail,” he says. “The escape that I made from it in real life was the escape that Will made in the show.”