Peacock’s reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air took viewers by surprise with season one. The beloved family sitcom had been reimagined as a gritty family drama that brought new depth to some of our favorite characters of the past.
What could’ve easily been a “light-hearted” with a “message” series, Bel-Air dives deep into class issues, mental health, jealousy, as well as intra-racial classism, and that only scratches the surface.
So, at the end of season one, the Banks family is at odds. Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola), the “butler”, has been fired. Will (Jabari Banks) has moved out after feeling betrayed by Uncle Phil (Adrian Holmes) and Aunt Viv (Cassandra Freeman) when it comes to his father, Lou (Marlon Wayans) . So, I had no idea where the series was going from here.
BEL-AIR SEASON 2 – WHAT’S UP WITH THE BANKS FAMILY?
In the four episodes provided by Peacock, Bel-Air season 2 proves that they are not headed for a sophomore slump. At this point, the little bit of light-heartedness of season 1 has lessened, and the series has doubled down on social issues, as well as personal issues, and new characters.
With Will living in his own place he has decided that Basketball is his meal ticket out of his life. So, he meets Doc (Brooklyn McLinn) who runs an academy for young basketball players under the guise of making their dreams come true. Doc’s niece Jackie (Jazlyn Martin) plays a new love interest for Will since he and Lisa (Simone Joy Jones) called it quits.
Hilary (Coco Jones) is running her own influencer house and dealing with all the struggles that come along with it. On top of which, she and Jazz are taking their relationship to the next level — telling their parents.
Carlton (Olly Sholotan) continues to have the toughest spot as the biggest departure from the original character. However, his change helps the series tackle topics that are usually off-limits for a series like this. The biggest one is mental health. As we know from season one, Carlton deals with panic attacks, anxiety, and so much more. This season allows the conversation to continue on a subject that is typically filled with stigma and shame. While he and Will still have their issues, it’s nice to see the two characters come together and support one another.
TATIANA ALI RETURNS!
Tatiana Ali, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s original Ashley, has joined the cast as a recurring Guest Star this season. Ali plays the beloved teacher Mrs. Hughes who is fired for straying from the approved and ancient curriculum. This storyline is the major catalyst for the first 4 episodes of the series. Whether it’s showing youth voices are powerful, taking on the system, or even diving into Carlton’s mental state I loved the messages it brings to the forefront.
Figuring out any specific direction or throughline for Bel-Air season 2 at this point is a tough one. The four episodes provided really just lay the groundwork for the possible roads ahead. That said, I was still intrigued by the characters, possible storylines, and of course the incredible soundtrack so far.
Season 2 of Bel-Air begins streaming on Feb. 23, 2023, on Peacock with weekly episode drops. Make sure to check it out!