Every once in a while, something happens that's so surreal yet so earnest that the subconscious refuses to believe it's not some fanmade parody. Many surprisingly well-made and influential pieces of media exist as a result of this, including Kingdom Hearts and that Uncharted video starring Nathan Fillion. But then, occasionally, things go a step further. What once may have indeed started as an actual parody has now become a genuine entry under the banner of that which it had originally lampooned. So, long story short, Bel-Air finally has a teaser.
Peacock just dropped the first official teaser for its upcoming dramatic reboot of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which somehow doesn't sound any less strange no matter how many times somebody says it. Featuring Will Smith himself giving what can only be described as a poetic reading of the original show's theme song, this trailer is just as deliberately serious as one might expect from such a project. In fact, it sort of even feels like it's going a little overboard (water pun unintended).
The teaser features the coincidentally named Jabari Banks as Will, falling into a pool (presumably meant to be the pool at the mansion seen in Fresh Prince) along with several representations of his life (basketballs, trophies, etc.) in possibly the most literal metaphor for "being tossed into the deep end." As Smith reads off the lyrics to the theme song with some dramatic flair, Banks slowly drifts into a familiar gaudy throne while a crown drops down to rest on his head. If it weren't for Smith's involvement, this might feel like yet another one-off parody video.
The thing is, that may be intentional. Bel-Air is actually directly inspired by a 2019 fan film from Morgan Cooper that reimagined the classic NBC comedy sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a surprisingly dark family drama. Smith was actually so impressed by the film that he and Jada Pinkett-Smith decided to produce it as a real series under their company Westbrook Studios. Cooper is directing the series as well, which may explain why the trailer still has that "wait, is this a parody?" feel to it.
That's not to say the trailer looks bad. On the contrary, it's got high production values and really does inspire a lot of intrigue as to how the series itself will turn out. It's just that the whole situation is just so bizarre that the mind automatically assumes the strangeness will permeate into the actual show. Come on. The original "Fresh Prince" giving a dramatic reading of the theme song like he's on stage at a poetry slam? It almost feels obvious.
But on its own, outside of the reboot context, the Bel-Air trailer does indeed look like something worth seeing. That's what fans should take away from this. Remakes and reboots may get a bad rap, but people really need to learn how to view them as their own thing rather than something to compare to the original. Hey, it's why Netflix's Cowboy Bebop works so well as a new, separate project, contrary to what some fans of the anime would insist.
Bel-Air will release on Peacock in 2022.
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