TV Review: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Netflix

Reporter:

Claire Lush

With so much new quality TV to choose from these days, all just a scroll away, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

If I start a series, I want to see it out or there’s some sense of failure. I’ve already called time on The Walking Dead (it pained me but I didn’t want to end up hating it) and Game of Thrones (I’m just over it) but I know I’ll catch up eventually, years from now, welcoming them back into my living room like old friends.

That’s why letting your nine-year-old loose on Netflix can throw up some interesting viewing choices.

The latest show to hold his attention is a blast from the past (well, mine anyway), in the form of Will Smith-led, 90s favourite, The Fresh
Prince of Bel-Air
.

It’s been quite the trip down memory lane, especially the cringingly awful fashion and hair (like the 80s but worse).

For those not familiar with the show the premise was simple: streetwise teen Will, from a poor area of Philadelphia (you’re welcome for the theme tune that’s now probably on a loop in your head) is sent by his worried mum to live in fancy Bel-Air with his aunt, uncle and cousins. Cue culture shock, for everyone.

His aunt Vivian (my son noticed the actress swap early on) and uncle Philip grew up just like Will but have ‘made it’, and his actions often remind them not to forget who they are or where they came from.

The cousins: spoilt/vacant Hilary, spoilt/bookish Carlton and spoilt/innocent Ashley provide for the most laughs, often, just like their parents, showing how influence can go both ways in their relationship with Will.

And there’s butler Geoffrey, British of course, who plays the blunt and all-too-put-upon grounded voice of reason more than once.

Now watching this show with my son has proved interesting. For a start it’s far funnier than I remember, with humour to suit a nine-year-old but also plenty of ‘one for the grown ups’ moments.

But what’s really taken me by surprise is just how many big issues it covers, from race and money to drugs and education, and plenty more in between. It’s all handled very well, clever and subtle, with humour for the most part, and has led to plenty of frank discussions in our house, which I’ve welcomed.

So in amongst newbie hits Stranger Things and The Sinner, there’s still quality to be had from the ‘retro’ section, and with a reboot or one-off special rumoured, what better excuse to refresh yourself. Smell ya later.

Email:

claire.lush@nwn.co.uk

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