How the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Taught Us Important Lessons in Life
Rumours that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is set to return to screens will come as a welcome surprise to people who grew up with the show in the ’90s.
According to Jazzy Jeff: “There have been talks with people about doing something. I think it would be cool if they did it and go down Memory Lane again.”
He added: “It’s a blessing to be part of something that people still hold in high regard. You can’t beat that.”
Earlier this year, a similar rumour circulated when Will Smith was discovered having a bite to eat with cast members including Alfonso Ribiero – better known as Carlton Banks.
I, for one, would love to see this show revived. Like many of my generation, I watched it religiously as a kid – and still do every once in a while. Put simply, it made you laugh in so many different ways, from Geoffrey’s sarcastic quips about Uncle Phil, to Carlton’s cringe-worthy class hang-ups.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. Unlike other African American programmes of the time, and before it, it had serious morals underpinning it.
For one, it taught us that being successful isn’t a just a white thing. Characters Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian were black, well educated, rich, yet grounded at the same time. One was a judge, the other a university teacher, and their three children were all enrolled at private school.
Enter Will Smith: a rough and ready teenager from the tough streets of Philadelphia. Many people watching will have seen themselves in him, but never believed for one second that his life could have taken a turn for the better. And change he did – into an all-round legend will brains and charm. The girls loved him, the guys loved him and, as middle class he became, he still managed to hold on to his street savvy.
Few mainstream sitcoms in the ’90s were as well meaning or aspirational as this. Here are some of the life lessons it taught us.
Never forget where you’ve come from
Uncle Phil learnt this the hard way, when confronted by the mother and farm upbringing he’d forgotten about.
Your family are always behind you
Sure, the Banks family had their differences, but they always came together when the going got tough.
Don’t sweat the little things
Being the court jester of the show, will never struggled to make others laugh and, in doing so, taught us how frivolous our everyday gripes actually are.
Follow your heart
Carlton, Hilary and Ashley were pretty much lawyers and doctors in the making. In defying their parents wishes, however, Hilary went on to become a talk show host, while Ashley dabbled in singing and modelling.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
This was pretty much a recurring theme throughout the show. Will assumed Uncle Phil had a boring past and learnt otherwise; Vivian let slip about her secret love for competitive ballet; and Carlton proved that he could survive in the hood.
It’s okay to cry
As cool and happy as Will was, he was never afraid to show his emotional side. In the episode, Papa’s Got A Brand New Excuse, for example, he’s reduced to tears after realising what an excuse-making, what of space his father is. Even Uncle Phil showed his tender side on occasion.
Chat up lines don’t work
I lost track of the number of times Will tried to mack on a girl. Some of his openers, as funny as they were, were downright shameful:
“Yo, baby, I know your feet must be tired ‘cause you been runnin’ through my mind all day.”
Girl, I got to tell you, that suit looks like a piece of ‘Good God’ wrapped up in some ‘Have Mercy,’ with a side of ‘Unghm!’”
What goes around comes around
Cast your mind back to the episode, PS: I love You. After learning that a rich, nerdy girl in school fancies him, Will takes advantage of her. He willing accepts the gifts she buys him, despite not liking her in return, only to later find out that she was using him to get back at someone else.
Don’t take people for granted
As the family butler, Geoffrey was an important member of the Banks household. He prepared and served dinner, tidied up, greeted guests and, more often than not was taken advantage of. Fed up with being exploited one day, he decided to walk, leaving the house in utter chaos.
Don’t do drugs
Remember the episode when Carlton ends up in hospital after overdosing on speed, thinking it was vitamin E? The story was as true then as it is today.