Is Bel-Air based on a true story?

Bel-Air is loosely based on a true story, as the series reboot is that of the 1990s hit sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Overview

Bel-Air premiered at the same time as the Super Bowl in February 2022, and despite this, the premiere of the Peacock original series made an impact. Featuring Jabari Banks as Will Smith, the success of the production led to questions by the public about whether the series is based on a true story.

Technically, the answer is yes, Bel-Air is based on a true story. But the series is not based on the real-life story of the famed actor Will Smith, as it is highly dramatised. The premise of the series is based on the 1990s hit sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Who created Bel-Air?

Before going into detail nuancing how Bel-Air is different from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, one of the important factors to consider, which endorsed the success of the serious reboot, is the fact that the Peacock original series is co-executively produced by the original Fresh Prince, Will Smith.

Smith co-executively produced the show with Morgan Cooper. His involvement in the creation of the serious reboot was integral to its success, considering that the title character still carries his name.

Additionally, Andy and Susan Borowitz, who created the original sitcom, are also credited with creating the serious reboot alongside T.J Brady.

Is Bel-Air based on a true story?

As indicated in the overview, Bel-Air is loosely based on a true story but is not based on real-life events.

The serious reboot came 26 years after the hit sitcom, and inspired the Peacock original series, which premiered in 2022. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is the source material that the Peacock original series is based on.

While The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a sitcom with the character development aimed at emphasising this point, Bel-Air is a more serious drama series and not a sitcom.

The premise has remained similar as it is, “The journey of a street smart teen whose life is forever transformed when he moves from the streets of west Philadelphia to live with his relatives in one of LA’s wealthiest suburbs.” Moreover, the characters have the same names.

However, in Bel-Air, they have been reimagined as more compelling and layered characters to help the serious reboot tackle more prevalent socio-political themes that the sitcom could not do at the time in a similar manner.

What are the themes of Bel-Air?

Bel-Air, through its dramatic adaptation of the original sitcom, aimed to tackle more socio-political issues plaguing the world today as opposed to the light-hearted nature of its predecessor.

Therefore, in the first season of the series, the main themes that the series tackled were matters of Blackness, the toxicity and pressure of social media, drug abuse, and abandonment issues, all with quite serious undertones. Furthermore, it also touched on matters of LGBTQ+ community.

While most of the characters kept the same name and personality traits of their original characters, one character underwent a serious overhaul in terms of personality.

Why is Bel-Air’s Carlton Banks so different?

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s Alfonso Ribeiro, who played the original Carlton Banks, was a goofy and lovable character. But in Bel-Air, Carlton Banks, played by Olly Sholotan, is anything but goofy and lovable.

The character becomes the antagonist of the show as he deals with his jealousy over Will Smith’s arrival and with his feelings about being a dark-skinned Black person in a predominantly White, affluent environment.

In an interview with DigitalSpy, Sholotan stated that it was easier to play the reimagined antagonistic character as there was less pressure to live up to Ribeiro’s original Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Will there be a Bel-Air season two?

Bel-Air concluded its first season in April 2022. Since its release, there was never a doubt that the series would return for a second season, as the series was commissioned for two seasons early on.

Hence, there will be a second season of the series. However, in terms of when Bel-Air is set to return, this matter is still unconfirmed, especially considering that season one just wrapped up this past month.

Final thoughts

Bel-Air is one of the most innovative series to have come out recently. The Peacock original series is a serious reimagining of the 90s hit sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. As such, the premise and characters in the series are the same as that of the sitcom.

This includes the protagonist, Jabari Banks in the role of Will Smith, which has caused confusion as to whether the character is based on the life of the actor and executive producer of the serious reboot, or on the sitcom character.

The latest interpretation is still based on the fictionalised character who bears the same name as the Oscar winning actor, Will Smith.