Who asked for a R-rated reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Hollywood did.
If you are reading this, you have probably watched a number of your favorite television shows and movies get a remake or a reboot over the last few years. Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Dr. Who, Cowboy Bebop; the list goes on. But these are not your average reboots.
The term ‘woke reboot’ is one that I’ve been using for a few years to describe Hollywood’s practice of remaking beloved properties by “modernizing” them to have a progressive slant. Many of these remakes have the same name as their predecessors, almost as if Hollywood is actively trying to replace their history.
While NBCUniversal decided to spare ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ of its name, the decision to move forward with another woke reboot was made based on the popularity of a YouTube concept that drew the eye of actor Will Smith.
A remake of the Fresh Prince but this time, we are changing the genre from a comedy sitcom to a gritty drama. A television show that only worked 30 years ago because everyone loved Will Smith and James Avery gets rebooted to look like “The Wire.”
It’s like taking ‘Step By Step’ and turning it into “The Sopranos.”
This is the basic premise behind Peacock’s “Bel-Air.”
Seconds into the first episode, you are treated to the blaring rap music of local Philly rappers Freeway and Meek Mill reminding you, this isn’t the family-friendly sitcom with positive reinforcement that you are used to…that idea was so Reagan era. We live in the era of nihilism where mercy is mistaken for amusement.
Set in the modern-day, this Philadelphia is one where people say the N-word and pull guns on each other because “we need to reflect a realistic take on how this story would be told.” There’s no Paddy’s Pub in this Philly.
In Bel-Air, we take the charismatic character of Will Smith and turn him into an angry bitter teenager.
Will, unlike his sitcom counterpart, is quick to jump into the arms of confrontation at the expense of rationale. He has an encounter with the local gang leader who put a hit out on him after a pickup basketball game went awry.
He ends up in jail and is then bailed out by his Uncle Phil and shipped to California where he can become the new Prince of Bel-Air.
This is where the difference between the two shows becomes glaring, to the point where it becomes a breaking point for many fans of the show. The name of these characters are the same, but personalities have taken a complete 180.
Let’s take the lovable father figure of Uncle Phil and turn him into a corrupt politician who cares more about his campaign than his family, because you wouldn’t expect a black man who lives in Bel Air to keep his nose clean do you?
Speaking of dirty noses, Carlton has gone from a nerdy preppy student who viewed his father as his biggest role model and is turned into a coke-snorting egomaniac whose only resemblance of the original character is he’s not “down with the culture.”
Hilary Banks is still a narcissist so it makes sense that she would have a popular Instagram page. Add in an unfaithful Aunt Vivian, an Ashley Banks who is gay now because NBCUniversal wouldn’t greenlight this project without LGBT representation, and more rap music than a Hot97 Concert and you have a woke reboot of the Fresh Prince fit for modern times…and that is exactly the problem.
Woke reboots are fundamentally lazy attempts to cash in on established franchises that do more to destroy legacies than add to them. Over the last decade, Hollywood writers have figured out that instead of producing original content that they would have to start from scratch to produce, promote, and build an audience from nothing; woke reboots allows content creators to start a creative process on easy mode and take advantage of a fanbase who have already invested into a name.
Imagine a screenwriter who crafts a story about a rich black family who lives their lives on a different side of the law. Imagine having to pitch how your idea is any better than television shows such as ‘Empire’ and ‘Power’ with similar concepts. You would probably have a very difficult time doing so.
Now imagine you take that same idea and blend it into a world-famous television show that already did the hard work to build the fanbase and respect their fandom? This is how shows like Bel Air get made. A show that would have died on the vine if left to its own merits but has the hard work already done for it simply by attaching itself to an already made franchise.
It’s like playing a video game with cheat codes because it’s too hard for you to beat the game on normal. To make matters worse, creators think that dropping callbacks to the original series somehow makes the quality of the reboot good because “He said West Philadelphia, born and raised and I clapped.”
The creative bankruptcy of these shows is insulting enough but to add insult to your injury, the uncreative television show that bites off of your fandom decides to get woke in the process.
We all know Hollywood is uber progressive and the overwhelming majority of shows and movies cannot even get approved by major studios without checking the right boxes for diversity and inclusion. This doesn’t make TV or movies any easier to watch and Bel-Air is a great example of this.
In the pilot episode of the show, Will and Carlton are put at odds because Carlton allows his white friends to sing rap lyrics using the N-word without “checking them” as a black man.
All other character traits of Carlton are removed from the reboot outside of the perception from black progressives that Carlton is a sellout to black people.
An issue that ironically the original series addressed in one of the best moments from the show.
A popular complaint from Progressive Hollywood is that audiences don’t want new things, they just want the same thing because they are afraid of change (Whatever you say Wachowski
This is projection at its finest. It’s not that audiences don’t want new things, audiences are fully aware that Hollywood can’t give it to them. Hollywood doesn’t have the ability in 2022 to produce new content that doesn’t inject their political ideology. Hell, most of these people still have #ResistTrump in their Twitter bios 15 months into the Biden Administration.
What they do is inject that poison into your favorite franchises and then blame you for not accepting it with a smile and handshake. It’s like expecting someone to hug you after you already sucker punched them twice.
“Bel-Air” is nothing more than the latest example of Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy that has led to audiences having more trust in Tik Tokers explaining the migrant crisis than a Hollywood writing room. The TV show you once loved is nowhere to be found. Like all woke reboots, they are nothing more than glorified fanfiction with the backing of multi-national corporations.
When an industry is hellbent on remaking everything you like regardless of your consent, the only answer left to ask is…“How does it feel to have lived long enough to see all of your favorite franchises go down in flames?”
This Article was originally posted on Bounding Into Comics. You can read the full piece here.
One thought on ““Bel-Air” Is The Latest Example Of Hollywood’s Horrible Trend Of Woke Reboots”
By turning The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air into a gritty drama, all they did was strip the charm the original had. I grew up with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.