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‘Bel-Air’ Season 2 Premiere Review: The Fresh Prince Is Back

By Makayla I. Gathers, Crimson Staff Writer

This review contains spoilers for the Season Two Premiere of “Bel-Air.”

It has been one year since the release of the Peacock TV series “Bel-Air,” but only “two weeks, three days, and six hours” since the shocking, cliffhanger ending of the last season. In Season 2, the Banks family seems stronger than ever and, as always, dressed to the nines; yet Will’s absence leaves something missing. The first season did a great job at integrating Will into both the luscious Californian and the Banks family itself, evoking lots of anticipation for his return. Ashley’s (Akira Akbar) upcoming birthday fuels the plot of the premiere, and for her birthday all she wants is for Will to come back (and for people to donate to Black Girls Rock, of course).

For the time being, Will is revealed to be living with Jazz (Jordan L. Jones), who gave him a reality check at the end of season 1, telling him “the key to happiness is staying true to who you are, no matter where you are.” Jazz is first seen this season meditating, which is symbolic of his role as the voice of reason for both Will and his love interest, Hilary Banks (Coco Jones).

Hilary and Jazz's relationship, while absolutely adorable, is uncertain. While in the middle of starting her new “influencer house" with Ivy (Karrueche Tran), Hilary struggles to share both control of the startup and Jazz himself with Ivy.

It is clear that this show has taken liberties with the character of Jazz as he is presented in the original show. Instead of being a source of comic relief and unrequited love from Hilary, Jazz is now a peaceful breath of fresh air and a help to the Banks in many serious situations. Hilary and Jazz present a great depiction of young, Black love, one that ignores their different lives and socioeconomic backgrounds.

When Will is not at Jazz’s place, he is “hooping for money,” which ironically is exactly how he got sent to Bel-Air. Worried about his basketball career, he is looking to be introduced to Doc (Brooklyn McLinn), who could be either a way for Will to get scouted or a source of sinister intentions.

Although Will isn’t living with the Banks, he still attends ritzy Bel-Air Prep with them. Will and Carlton (Olly Sholotan), the “dynamic duo,” have an interesting relationship ahead of them. As they dance together in the car on the way to school, there is a great contrast from the cut throat competition they had with one another last season. Yazmin (Riele Downs) is introduced as president of the school’s Black Student Union, which feels convenient as she has a spark of romance with Carlton, class president, and may be the driving force behind a protest between the union and the school.

There are also hints of a conflict involving a Black teacher, Mrs. Hughes, played by Tatyana Ali ’02, the original Ashley Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” In the premiere, Ashley receives a special book from Mrs. Hughes, “The Revolution Has Come,” a book by Robyn C. Spencer about the Black Panther Party. Another student can be seen suspiciously looking at this interaction, and in later scenes, Ashley walks in on Mrs. Hughes arguing with two other teachers. Could this be the reason for the protest? This plotline not only has potential to successfully intertwine the storylines of Ashley, Carlton, and Will, which were initially separate, but is also incredibly relevant at a time when the inclusion of Black history into school curricula may appear to be in jeopardy. “Bel-Air” is consistent with its interweaving of social issues affecting the Black community into the plot, while also highlighting the role of young people in attempts to make change.

In the premiere, the viewers also find Viv (Cassandra Freeman) and Phil Banks struggling to re-enter their careers. Phil has trouble navigating the return to his law firm after a failed District Attorney campaign, and Viv struggles to open the door for new Black artists, as she barely has her foot in the door herself. After relationship issues related to Phil’s work life last season, the Banks seem to have bounced back. However, with both of them back at work at the same time, it feels as though these new struggles impose a special burden on their marriage, testing it once again.

The cast is strong, with exciting additions like a guest appearance from Saweetie. This season has a loaded plot, yet the show now has a developed and clear identity outside of the original source material, setting this season up to be a promising and captivating watch.

— Staff writer Makayla Gathers ‘26 can be reached at makayla.gathers@thecrimson.com

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