tek's rating: ½

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, on NBC
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This of course starred real life rapper and actor Will Smith as fictional character Will Smith. Will was from West Philadelphia, but after he got into some trouble, his mother, Vy, sent him to live in Bel-Air, California, with his aunt and uncle, Philip and Vivian Banks, and cousins Carlton, Hilary, and Ashley. And um, y'know, hilarity ensued. It's basically a sort of fish out of water story, I guess. I mean, Will's probably nobody's idea of... you know... majorly, like, ghetto, or anything. But he's not used to living with the kind of wealth and manners of his relatives. Philip himself was raised on a farm, but now he's a lawyer, so he's got lots of money, and refinement, or whatever. So he's often really annoyed by the way Will acts. Will... well, he's basically just free-spirited, kind of goofy (though he wouldn't want you to call him that), mostly he just likes to have fun, I guess. I suppose a large part of the show has the people he's now surrounded by look kind of silly in their uptight-ness, compared to him, but the opposite is also true.

Will's oldest cousin, Hilary, is basically just a shallow, empty-headed shopaholic fashionista. His next oldest cousin, Carlton, is a preppy, a staunch Republican, very intelligent, very interested in making money, but also has his goofy traits. He and Will do become sort of close eventually, but mostly they insult each other, since they're such opposites. Will makes fun of pretty much everything about him, such as his being short, his love of Tom Jones music, his conservativeness, his lack of "blackness," etc. Will's youngest cousin, Ashley, takes an immediate liking to Will, and of course he's fond of her, as well. When he arrives, she begins to break out of the mold her parents have created for her, and carve her own identity. At the end of season 3, Philip and Vivian have another child, Nicky, who suddenly and inexplicably becomes older in season 5. He tends to emulate Will somewhat.

Another major character is the British butler, Geoffrey Butler, who's pretty funny, sarcastic. Devoted to serving the Bankses, but not exactly in a subservient way, you know? He can be very flip. Then there's Will's friend Jazz (played by Jazzy Jeff, former musical partner of the real-life Will Smith, in the days of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince). He's romantically interested in Hilary, who can't stand him. He's pretty ignorant and completely lacking in class, and Philip can't stand him, and often throws him out of the mansion (literally). Still, he's pretty funny, too. Of course, over the seasons there are other recurring characters, including members of the extended family who visit sometimes, or people the kids are dating, or whatever.

What else can I say? Great characters and cast, just a really funny show, with enjoyable running gags that never get old, and even the occasional fourth wall-breaking (which is something I always enjoy). And... well, there are also lessons learned, a bit of social commentary, stuff like that. Characters can grow somewhat. But mostly it's just funny.

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