‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’: Why a reboot would ruin the show

Bringing back the 90's classic would be a disaster, argues Jamie Milton.

Now this is a story all about how big show reboots can be letdowns. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you why they shouldn’t bring back Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Rumours of a Fresh Prince reboot have been stirring for a good few years. And let’s face it, which TV producers wouldn’t want to get their mitts on Will Smith’s classic show? Especially when its lead star is a 100 times more famous than he was in 1996, when the show ended. And just think of the possibilities: Jaden and Willow Smith guest spots! The return of Carlton’s dancing!

Also consider that in a year or two, the 90’s nostalgia gravy train will be at full speed. Patterned vests and white dungarees will be even more fashionable than they are now. TLC’s ‘Waterfalls’ will be everywhere again. Arsene Wenger will still be managing Arsenal. The world will be perfectly primed for a Fresh Prince comeback.

But it absolutely shouldn’t happen. Yesterday (April 26), Carlton aka Alfonso Ribeiro hedged his bets on a reboot. “The odds of a revival? I would say 0.01%,” he told Digital Spy. “I can’t say it would never happen, but I would say there are a lot of people that would revolt if it did, me being one of them.” Will Smith is also staunchly against a return, with the Fresh Prince himself saying in 2016 that we can expect a comeback “when Hell freezes over.” Message received, loud and clear.

From a simple moral standpoint, bringing the show back without Uncle Phil would be in poor taste. Actor James Avery passed away in 2013, and his impossibly sassy putdowns would be difficult to replicate. “There was a love I have for that man that could never be replaced,” Ribeiro said.

And how many reboots can you name that spectacularly lived up to the original? There’s a huge amount of trepidation surrounding Twin Peaks – a classic making a risky return that could fall flat on its backside. The majority of legendary shows from the past three decades, like Seinfeld, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Malcolm in the Middle, are best left alone. Fresh Prince is no exception. Not even a director or production company with the best intentions would avoid the standard pitfalls – relying on old clichés, bringing too many special guests into the picture, new actors uncomfortably slotting into roles that shouldn’t be replaced. It would be strange, awkward and short-lived.

Fresh Prince cast enjoy a mini-reunion

The Fresh Prince cast enjoying a mini-reunion, March 2017

The only feasible option – beyond leaving it alone and never mentioning a reboot ever again – is a complete remake. New stars, new characters, new plots, but the same overarching theme of an everyday kid being thrust into a wealthy world after getting in a basketball court scuffle. It would take serious skill to make it work, and there’d be the usual ‘How dare you do this!’ outcries, but Fresh Prince’s charming concept could be applied to a new world. No need to rely on 90’s retro obsessions. Just update the format, swap backwards baseball caps for skinny jeans. Easy.

Actually, come to think of it, even that sounds horrid. Just leave the poor thing be, for crying out loud. Binge on old episodes and enjoy a genuine classic.