Will Smith, Alfonso Ribeiro, and Aunt Vivs Janet Hubert and also Daphne Maxwell Reid return together the rest of the actors for HBO Max"s unscripted "The fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion."


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Few points feel together preordained as HBO Max’s The new Prince the Bel-Air Reunion, especially during a year the saw several iconic TV casts (minus the Friends) come with each other to remember an excellent times and administer comforting, feel-good entertainment come homebound fans. What does surprise around the special is just how moving, even cathartic, that is, reuniting will Smith v Janet Hubert, who played Aunt Viv till she was changed by Daphne Maxwell Reid after ~ the third season, because that the an initial time in 27 years.

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Much the the unique finds the 1990-1996 series’ core cast — Smith, Reid, Tatyana M. Ali (Ashley), Karyn Parsons (Hilary), Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton) and Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey) — gathered top top a recreation the the series’ living-room set. (James Avery, that played Uncle Phil, died in 2013, if Ross Bagley, who played baby Nicky, renders a late cameo.) The obligatory clips expose the younger actors to be just as outrageously talented as you remember, and the more seasoned performers make the most of their less-showy roles. Though the actors show up as themselves, fairly than their characters, the charisma and chemistry castle evinced together the Bankses is in complete view, as is your obvious and bone-deep fondness for each other.


The reunion is both strengthened and restricted by the focus on the cast. It’s fun to watch them watch Ribeiro and also Parsons’ audition tapes, for example, which leader to an observation that yet insecure the actress felt during her (admittedly limp) heat readings, she’d already nailed her ditzy character’s petulant, over-confident lower-jaw placement. In a later segment devoted to Avery — whom Smith remembers as a “six-foot-four shak spa beast” — the younger cast members remind the education in black color artistic and musical legacies that the stage-trained actor was always eager to impart. The series-making line “how come he don’t want me, man?”, uttered by an angry and also defeated Will about his estranged dad to Uncle Phil, benefit even an ext poignancy as soon as Smith speak of just how Avery to be a donate father number to him both in character and between takes.

The just thing more implausible 보다 the story the a West Philadelphia teen shipped throughout the nation to live with his Beverly Hills family members is the stratospheric climb of smith himself, even prior to he became one the the best movie stars on Earth. Smith is quickly able to access his dazed 21-year-old self, a rising rapper who got talked into auditioning because that NBC execs wait in the next room over at Quincy Jones’ mansion regardless of never having acted prior to — and also how it appeared much an ext surreal to him than thrilling or triumphant. Yet the one-of-a-kind then fast-forwards to 6 weeks later, come Smith’s an initial day top top set. Exactly how Susan and also Andy Borowitz pertained to create the present — and also if the cast ever supported for more Black writers and also directors — aren’t to be found in the reunion.


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The actors was always aware that many of the show’s authors were white — and also it was for this reason incumbent upon them to contribute to the scripts. (“We made certain we were authentic, every episode,” beams Ribeiro.) It’s genuinely heartwarming to watch that the actors felt welcome to administer input, especially when it involved matters the race. However even the many cursory scan that the show’s Wikipedia web page reveals the credits for black color writers prefer John Ridley, Winifred Hervey, Devon Shepard, Maiya Williams and also Samm-Art Williams. I beg your pardon isn’t to say that the Borowitzes couldn’t have actually done much more to bring in much more Black voices and POVs behind the scenes — the reunion special’s table-read footage mirrors the Black actors often surrounding by white writers, producers and crew members. However it would’ve been fascinating to gain a an ext nuanced perspective on the dynamics in the writers room and also how they interplayed v the actors’ requests. Yet that would’ve compelled bringing in viewpoints past the cast’s.

Ali suggests lyrically because that the necessary representation that the display offered, yet it likewise might’ve been more interesting to obtain a sense of The new Prince that Bel-Air’s role within the growing of black sitcoms throughout the ‘90s, as soon as the collection overlapped v The Cosby Show, A different World, living Single, Martin, household Matters, Sister, Sister and more. It’s specifically here that a scholar or a network exec’s view would’ve broadened the special’s examination of the show’s legacy.

But the headlines room destined to seize top top the meeting between Smith and also Hubert, which, regardless of aggressive editing, retains a raw and uneasy intensity. The actress alludes to the means they’ve spoken unkindly towards each other in public, and we finally get an airing-out of what brought about Hubert’s departure from the present that feel balanced, if likewise begging for more details. “I make the collection very complicated for Janet,” smith admits, and also Hubert, who appears cautious of showing up unsympathetic alongside one that the most famous and beloved A-listers ~ above the planet, strives to organize her former co-star accountable with as lot graciousness together possible.

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“I lost everything,” she speak Smith, in ~ a time when she had a new baby and also was grounding in a “very abusive marriage.” “Calling a black woman difficult in Hollywood is the kiss of death… and also it’s hard sufficient being a dark-skinned black color woman in this business,” she adds. A quarter-century after that went turn off the air, The new Prince of Bel-Air is still tackling thorny issues.