The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

17 Oct

fresh prince

Growing up and even today The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of my favorite shows on TV.  Although it is mostly comedic, many lessons can be learned throughout the series.  The show is about Will Smith (a fictionalized version of himself) from West Philadelphia who moves in with his rich aunt and uncle in Bel-Air after getting into a fight with some guys on the basketball court back home.  Aunt Vivian, Uncle Phil, and his three cousins Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley are an upper class African American family but portray what we categorize as the stereotypically white Americans.  Although Will and the Banks family are the same race, Will is almost an outcast because he fits the stereotype of a young African American who had a rough upbringing, no father in the home, and a mother who had to work multiple jobs to support their family.  Instead of trying to change his identity and become more like the Banks, he expresses his culture which sometimes makes his family uneasy.  Uncle Phil is an elected judge and Aunt Vivian is a retired doctor so they both hold a respectable standing in the community.  Will sometimes stirs up trouble which puts the Banks family in an uncomfortable situation.  Will is my main focus because he is the outsider.  He often gives Carlton a hard time for acting “white” and sees him as not “black” enough because Carlton doesn’t fit the typical black stereotype.  The way Carlton and the rest of the Banks family talks and dresses is different from his and it doesn’t fit the perspective Will has of the black community.  A time that sticks out to me when white characters are present are the episodes when Carlton and Will attend their rich, preppy, predominantly white private school.  The other students have a hard time connecting to Will because he is so different from them and doesn’t always follow the rules.  One example of this is by taking the uniform everyone is supposed to wear and customizing it to look the way he wants, more flamboyant and colorful which strays away from the basic black and white colored suit.  I thought that it was interesting how in class we discussed African Americans’ role in sitcoms are usually middle class, less professional dress, and lower levels of occupational prestige.  The Banks family is the complete opposite of this.  I guess it would be hard for me to identify with Will because he is a black male and I am a white female but not looking at race or gender I identify with him in the way that sometimes I am the outcast in my family.  I choose to live my life how I want to and be myself no matter if it goes against my stereotype.


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