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You’re about to get that Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song stuck in your head all over again. Or at least we assume that will happen to everyone when the newest TV reimagining, Bel-Air, drops this weekend on Feb. 13. It lands on Super Bowl Sunday, which is no coincidence. That’s because both will be carried by NBC’s streaming service Peacock, so the broadcast giant undoubtedly wants to pull some football fans into its reimagining of the nostalgic classic.
We’ve been anticipating this dramatic reimagining of the 1990s Will Smith-starring series since its first announcement in August 2020. At the time, the potential series had been in the works for more than a year, ever since a four-minute clip from super-fan Morgan Cooper dropped on YouTube. In that short film, Cooper twisted the comedy on its head and gave us all a glimpse of what today’s Fresh Prince would be.
Will Smith immediately jumped on board to produce, and a bidding war including giants HBO Max, Netflix and Peacock ensued. In the end, Peacock won out, and now, nearly three years after that short film dropped, Bel-Air is finally here. If you’re wondering how to watch Bel-Air, we’ve got the deets below.
How To Watch Bel-Air
Since Peacock is the streaming service that ultimately won the rights to Bel-Air (with a hefty, two-season order, by the way), that’s where you’ll have to go if you want to watch the show in its entirety.
And while Peacock is a free service that anyone can sign up for, Americans need to subscribe to Peacock Premium (ad-based) or Peacock Premium Plus (ad-free) to watch Bel-Air. The good news is that a subscription will also give you access to all of the service’s other original programs, including MacGruber, Wolf Like Me, Doctor Death and the Saved By The Bell reboot.
If you’ve struggled to keep track of all of these streaming services, we don’t blame you. Peacock is NBCUniversal’s streaming service, deriving its name from NBC’s iconic peacock logo. It feels fitting that Bel-Air found its home on Peacock since NBC is where the Andy and Susan Borowitz created show first aired. Thankfully, it’s also relatively inexpensive compared to other streamers. A Peacock Premium subscription costs $4.99 a month, while its ad-free counterpart comes in at $9.99 per month. Sadly, Peacock suspended its Premium free trial.
Additionally, a Peacock subscription also gets you all the Olympics content you could ever want, not to mention next-day NBC programming and access to other NBCUniversal properties, including Telemundo, WWE Network, USA Network and Bravo.
If you want even more Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, you can also watch the reunion special, an unscripted event featuring the surviving cast getting together and reminiscing on the show. You can find that on HBO Max. In addition, the entire original run of the series is also on HBO Max. And of course, the classic sitcom is in syndication on cable and network TV, including BET and VH1.
Is There a Way To Watch Bel-Air For Free?
Peacock used to offer a seven-day free trial of its Premium subscription service, and one never knows, it might be again. However, as it currently stands, Peacock will only offer the Bel-Air reboot on the paid plans.
When Does Bel-Air Debut?
Peacock is so sure that it’s got a winning combination with this Bel-Air reimagining that it’s dropping the first three episodes on Sunday, Feb. 13. After that, new episodes air weekly.
For those keeping track, that means the show is hitting the same day as the Super Bowl — also on NBC this year — which is always a big deal. That’s because Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most-watched TV days of the entire year, so a series is likely to pick up extra viewers after all the football action wraps. Or at least that’s how it usually goes on network television.
We’ll see if the move pays off for the streaming service, but since the Super Bowl also streams on Peacock, we have a feeling there will be plenty of cross-promotions and an extra drive to Bel-Air on game day.
What Is Bel-Air About?
Well, you see, this is a story all about how a guy’s life got flipped turned upside down. More specifically, we’re talking about a character named Will, who gets into some rather serious trouble in Philadelphia — where he was born and raised. Luckily he also happens to have a connected, rich uncle who bails him out by flying him to live with his family in Bel-Air. He tries to fit in with the affluent crowd there, including his cousins Carlton, Ashley and Hilary. Want more info? Here’s the official description from Peacock:
“Set in modern-day America, Peacock’s new one-hour drama series Bel-Air imagines the beloved sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air through a new, dramatic take on Will’s complicated journey from the streets of West Philadelphia to the gated mansions of Bel-Air. As these two worlds collide, Will reckons with the power of second chances while navigating the conflicts, emotions, and biases of a world far different from the only one he’s ever known.”
It’s evident Bel-Air will be a different take on the source material. For one thing, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was a half-hour sitcom with a laugh track, so Bel-Air’s more dramatic hour-long format will be interesting to see. That said, one of the most iconic scenes from The Fresh Prince’s six-season run was the heartbreaking scene in which Will’s dad leaves. The phrase, “How come he don’t want me,” still brings a tear to any fan’s eye 25 years later. There’s plenty of dramatic material to be found in the original; its heart and emotion are arguably what made it such a beloved show, not just Carlton’s dance moves (although those are still solid).
Who Stars In Bel-Air?
Casting Will was the show’s first — and probably biggest — challenge. But the Powers That Be felt they found him in an actor named Jabari Banks. Banks is an absolute unknown, having never starred (or guest-starred) in any notable movies or TV shows before. So this really will be his role to prove himself. Luckily, he has a mentor in Smith, who has promised to take Banks under his wing. That’s one substantial co-sign. We’re guessing that Banks sharing his last name with the family from the original Fresh Prince is just a coincidence, but it’s a pretty fortunate one at that.
Meanwhile, Canadian Adrian Holmes, whom you may recognize from Arrow or the critically-acclaimed Canadian series 19-2, has been cast as Uncle Phil and Cassandra Freeman plays Aunt Viv. Rounding out the cast, the new Carlton is Olly Sholotan, Hilary is Coco Jones, and Ashely is Akira Akbar.
That’s the core family. Joining them is Jimmy Akingbola as Geoffrey the butler, April Parker Jones as Will’s mom Vy, and Jordan L. Jones as Jazz. (No word on whether Uncle Phil tosses Jazz from the foyer this time.)
Smith is still involved behind the scenes as an executive producer, while the guy that started it all, Morgan Cooper, is a co-executive producer, a writer and one of the directors on the project.
Watch the Film That Started It All
Since Morgan Cooper’s Bel-Air film dropped in 2019, it’s garnered more than seven million views. If you haven’t caught it or want to pump yourself up for the premiere of Peacock’s Bel-Air, here it is again:
Watch the Bel-Air Trailer
Want a taste of what to expect when the show drops on Feb. 13? Here’s the first official Bel-Air trailer: