Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" makes its comeback

Will Smith uploaded a trailer for the reboot of his hit ‘90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to YouTube on Jan. 10. The show is set to premiere on Feb. 13 on the streaming service Peacock. 

The trailer displayed a more serious tone than the original “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” It looks nothing like the original sitcom.

While the original 90s sitcom had a more playful and comedic tone the trailer for the reboot doesn’t reciprocate this tone. The original series did have its dramatic moments on certain episodes, but the trailer for the reboot depicted a more dramatic tone from start to finish. 

The show includes an entirely new cast. Actress and singer Coco Jones will play Hilary Banks. Karyn Parsons Rockwell played the character in the original television series. 

While this change may not seem like a big deal for people who are new to the show, it’s shocking for those who know the history of the original series and its actors. It’s refreshing to see darker-skinned women onscreen as part of the main cast. It’s time for darker-skinned women to get roles that are often denied to them. 

Vivian Banks was played by a darker-skinned woman named Janet Hubert in the original series. However, halfway through the series, she was replaced by a lighter-skinned actress, Daphne Maxwell Reid. 

Hubert was fired from the show by Will Smith following its third season after being labeled difficult to work with. Hubert’s exit from the show was talked about in more detail in HBO Max’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Reunion.”

In the reunion, Hubert talked about the negative implications of a Black woman, specifically a darker-skinned woman, being labeled difficult to work with. Hubert lightly addressed the issue of colorism and how it affected her during and after her leave from the show. 

Hubert explained how being labeled difficult destroyed her reputation. 

Hubert said in the reunion “Calling a Black woman difficult in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It’s hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman.” 

Colorism is still an issue in television and film today. There are numerous TV shows and films where there are no darker-skinned women present.

TV shows and films like “Gossip Girl,” “Family Reunion,” “In the Heights,” “Euphoria,” and “Grown-ish,” have no darker-skinned women as main cast members. 

Dark-skinned Black women barely have anyone they can relate to or feel represented by onscreen. Sometimes not seeing themselves onscreen is a reflection of them not being seen or appreciated in real life. 

With the history of the series in mind and the severe lack of representation of darker-skinned women, it was surprising to see Jones, a darker-skinned woman, cast in the role of Hilary Banks. 

We still have a long way to go before we see darker-skinned women in television and film on a more consistent basis. Seeing Jones take on this role is encouraging, and can be a starting point to seeing more darker-skinned women on screen. 

Media companies and filmmakers should take notes and get on board with casting more darker-skinned women on screen.

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