Dramatic Reimagining of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Gets Will Smith's Approval

Will Smith has expressed how impressed he is with an updated Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fan trailer called Bel-Air. The original sitcom ran for six seasons from 1990 to 1996 and starred Will Smith as a fictionalized version of himself.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air saw a young man from West Philadelphia sent to live with his rich relatives in the titular lavish Los Angeles neighborhood after his mother fears for his safety. Much of the humor comes from his working class attitude clashing with the opulent surroundings and people of his new home. Simply titled Bel-Air (The Fresh Prince was Will Smith’s rapper name in the ‘80s), this fan trailer keeps the same basic premise, but alters the tone to that of a serious indie drama.

Related: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: 15 Dark Behind-The-Scenes Secrets You Never Knew About

After the video gained close to 3.5 million views since its upload in March, Will Smith took to YouTube with a video detailing his reaction to the trailer (below) and praising its creator Morgan Cooper. Smith discusses Bel-Air's potential as a drama series, and how the arc-driven format of modern TV would give the story room to develop over time. Calling the idea “brilliant,” Smith compared the setup with his own life, saying:

“I moved to LA and started The Fresh Prince, and all of my friends started getting killed and going to jail. The escape I made from it in real life was the escape Will made from it in the show. Was I going to be that same statistic, or was I going to be something different?”

Bel-Air's trailer sees Will get into a fight with some gangsters and get arrested when the police find a gun in his bag, only to be kept out of jail by the influence of his uncle Phil, a Los Angeles judge. After being sent to live with Phil and his family, the comedy of the fish-out of-water scenario of the ‘90s sitcom is instead transformed into Will’s fight against feeling alone and isolated in a world in which he doesn’t feel he belongs, and where he must strive to make something of his life. With the trailer highlighting Will’s talent at basketball, it also suggests that people trapped in a cycle of violence only require the chance to prove themselves to be something greater than what they’ve been told they can be.

Tonal reimaginings of existing properties are nothing new, with “dark” and “gritty” often being the operative words used to update a property to match the more cynical attitudes of modern audiences. However, this is often only a superficial twist, and the resulting creation ends up merely as a poor imitation of that which inspired it. But something like Bel-Air has the potential to have something genuine to say about the inequalities existing in modern day America - especially with the heightened racial tensions and their resultant tragedies. Even the original sitcom wasn’t devoid of serious moments, with a particularly memorable scene of Will and his uptight and naive cousin, Carton being stopped by the police that has Will explaining the racial profiling taking place.

Smith expressing a genuine interest in seeing Bel-Air's trailer almost suggests it could become a reality. So who knows? It might not be too long before we see a very different Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back on our screens.

Next: Where Are They Now? The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Source: Will Smith

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