Le prince de Bel Air: a new series and a range of clothes
The Prince of Bel Air, the cult series of the 1990s
The Prince of Bel Air is one of the cult series of the 1990s. This family sitcom was broadcast between 1990 and 1996 on NBC and on Antenne 2 in France from 1992.
Through 149 episodes, viewers discovered the hectic and zany adventures of young William, known as Will (Will Smith), near Los Angeles in the posh neighbourhood of Bel Air. At 17, the teenager was leaving Philadelphia for the Banks’ rich home. His mother wanted to give her son a better life by sending him to his sister’s house. A shock for this young boy of modest origins. He discovered opulence and etiquette. It is on this gap that the series rested. On the one hand, Will’s popular culture, rap and basketball, on the other hand, the Banks’ money and decency. A class struggle in the style of the 1990s!
In this family, Will discovered Uncle Phil (James L Avery, then Henry Djank), judge of his state, his wife, Aunt Vivi (Janet Hubert-Whitten then Daphne Reid), as well as their children Hilary (Karyn Parsons), precious weather presenter, Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) with her crazy hip swing, Ashley (Tatyana Ali) dreaming of becoming a singer and Nicky (Ross Bagley), the last one.
For the daily tasks, the Banks were assisted by Jeffrey (Joseph Marcell, dubbed in French by the marvellous Med Hondo), the English butler with a cynical sense of humour and a pinch of humour. Not forgetting Jazz (Jeffrey A. Townes), Will’s faithful friend, with his colourful shirts and famous glides.
A series not as light as it seems
Despite the lightness of the series, the screenwriters of Prince de Bel Air also dealt with serious and very modern themes. Under its zany tunes, the sitcom talked to young viewers about uprooting, integration, drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, single parenthood, mourning, but also about the problems affecting the black American community.
All this was inevitably linked to money, power, class struggle, poverty and material issues. How could a young Philadelphian nourished by pop culture fit into this world of wealth? How was his past life and personality going to rock the Banks’ routine?
A very rap series
Coming from Philadelphia, like his friend Jazz, Will loved rap music more than anything. It was normal to hear this style of music often in the show. Thus, the credits were performed by Will Smith and Jeff Townes (Jazz). The two had known each other for a long time and had composed the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. The opening credits tell the story of William’s life.
The series was produced by Quincy Jones, the famous musician, arranger and producer, who made a quick appearance in the credits as a taxi driver.
Music is omnipresent in Le prince de Bel Air. Will’s pushing his cousin Ashley to sing. The actress Tatyana Ali will also try her hand at a singing career, surfing on her fame in the series. In 1998, she played Boy You Kock Me Out with Will Smith featuring on the chorus.
Guests as if it’s raining…
Like Friends, Le prince de Bel Air welcomed many stars. The Banks liked to invite celebrities, including the stars of the Arnold and Willy series. Thus in the final season, spectators were able to discover scenes with Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain) or Arnold (Gary Coleman).
The musicians were not to be outdone, as Dr Dre, Boyz II Men, as well as Tom Jones appeared in the series. The latter played in the episode The Prince of Princeton. He played It’s Not Unusal, the hit that Carlton liked to dance to. “Dancing à la Carlton” is a parody of Courtney Cox in Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark.
But where were all his cult sequences shot?
Los Angeles as a film set
The Prince of Bel Air, like many American sitcoms, was shot in studio and in public. Thus the interior scenes were filmed at Columbia/Sunset Gower Studios – 1438 N. Gower Street in Hollywood. As the series was supposed to take place in Los Angeles, it was the best way to immerse yourself in this Angeline family.
As for the Banks’ superb home, it is located at 251 N Bristol Avenue in Los Angeles. It now proudly bears the name Fresh Prince of Bel Air. You won’t see much from the outside, but just by standing in front of the gate of this iconic property, your feet won’t be able to control themselves to dance the Carlton way. It was put up for sale in 2018 for $18.9 million or 14.7 million euros.
A range of clothes to look like the Prince of Bel Air
Surfing on the nostalgic chord, Will Smith decided to create a clothing line around the Prince de Bel Air. Named Bel Air Athletic, it offers streetwear items.
Since October 14th, you can buy Will’s famous reversible cashmere jacket for the coquette sum of 105 €. Count 17 € for a pair of socks or 205 € for the gym bag. On the actor’s website, via a shop, you can also buy hoodies (hooded sweatshirt), a thermo-reactive t-shirt with a hero’s avatar, caps or a basketball. Please note, however, that many of these items are already sold out.
To launch his brand, the actor of I am a Legend and Men In Black paid for it by staging himself with the clothes on his Instagram account.
In 2018, the comma firm had already released a pair of Prince sneakers from Bel Air in the Nike Air Jordan Fresh Prince line.
In addition to this 26-piece vintage clothing touch, a new Prince de Bel Air series is on the way.
After yet another rerun, notably on BET, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was released on Netflix on July 1st. A total of 3700 viewing hours are available on the pay platform. But since happiness never comes alone, a reboot soon arrives on the screens.
For the past few years, rumours have been flying around about a new series, The Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith often did not confirm the information or even agree to it. Until recently.
After a trailer in March 2019, the Bel Air series was finally launched. Directed by Morgan Cooper (Black, Re: Dream), it features a revisiting of the original. Less humorous, it’s darker. The audience will learn about Will’s past in Philadelphia. The teenager is then rejected by his family and angry at the whole world. He then met his friend Jazz, discovered basketball and left for Los Angeles to join the Banks.
Moreover, Will Smith is not mistaken and validates the project. He then praised him in these terms: “This is the first time I’ve said to myself ‘this idea is brilliant’ “. He then proposed to the director to associate Mike Soccio, the screenwriter of the first season of Prince de Bel-Air. This reboot will definitely be worth a look.
While The Prince of Bel Air is more than 20 years old, the series is still fascinating. After The Cosby Show (from 1984), she was also a pioneer in bringing a black American family into the spotlight on television. The clothing line designed by Will Smith and the new series then continue to maintain the legend of this cult sitcom.
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By Anthony Thibault
From the "Casimir generation", Anthony has kept (in addition to a passion for Goldorak) a taste for inventive images, experimentation and curiosity. Passionate about travel and pop culture, he co-founded Fantrippers with Nicolas Albert to share his passion with as many people as possible.