The 1990’s were the heyday for black sitcoms. And on this edition of #CultureClassics we’re celebrating one of the most popular and ground breaking black sitcoms of not only the 90’s but of all-time, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, aired on NBC from September 10, 1990 to May 20, 1996. The show stars legendary creator for The Culture Will “The Fresh Prince” Smith as a fictionalized version of himself, a street-smart teenager from Philly who is sent to live with his wealthy uncle and aunt in their Bel Air mansion after getting into a fight in his hometown (all so eloquently explained in the show’s classic theme song and opening sequence). The series centered around the themes of culture shock and even black-on-black prejudice as Will’s lifestyle often clashed with the lifestyle of his posher relatives in Bel Air.
It was a comedy though and most often Will’s working class background ended up clashing in various humorous ways with the upper class world of the Banks family – Will’s uncle Phil (RIP James Avery) and aunt Vivian (both of them) and their children, Will’s cousins: Hilary, Carlton, and Ashley.
The series ran for six seasons and aired 148 episodes. And there are so many classic moments, jokes, episodes, and cameos we couldn’t list even half of them here. But from “the Carlton” dance to Jazz (Will’s hip-hop partner in-crime DJ Jazzy Jeff) being physically thrown out of the house in all of his appearances, to the emotional scene of Will’s father abdoning him only for Uncle Phil to demonstrate what a real man is, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air changed the game and will forever be a #CultureClassic.
The concept of the show is actually based on the life of music manager Benny Medina. Medina had grown up poor in East Los Angeles but had his life changed when he befriended a rich white teenager. That family lived in Beverly Hills and allowed Medina to live with them. But by that time the black character living with a white family concept had been done multiple times on TV (think Different Strokes, etc.). So Medina decided to change the rich white family to a rich black family, and the Banks’ were born.
If you enjoyed that look at a throwback TV classic. Check out more of our #CultureClassics:
Written by creator for The Culture @TalentedMrFord