Now, this is a story all about jokes and laughs and emotional moments that will make grown men cry. When NBC commissioned the first series of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, nobody thought the show would become a cult classic. Sure, a sitcom produced by Quincy, and starring a platinum-selling loveable rapper was sure to become success, but what it grew into was an educational lesson in life.
The show has tackled issues around race, gender and the difference between rich and poor. It achieved this through a delicate balance of humour and emotionally charged scenes that had us all welling up with emotion. For many youngsters, across the world, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air shaped our childhoods. Who didn’t want to be the Fresh Prince?
It was Will Smith’s first job as an actor, and although it didn’t portray his life, there were many similarities. Will, himself came from Philadelphia and moved to LA to pursue his music career. He went from extreme poverty to untold riches and back again. The series would catapult a young Will Smith into one of the most well-known names in Hollywood.
Below, is a list of the top ten lessons about life, I learnt from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
10 – Uncle Phil gets the boys out of jail
In this episode, the boys agree to drive Uncle Phil’s law partners car to palm springs for the weekend. However, when Carlton gets the pair lost, the police pull him over, and Will tries to explain the racism behind the system. Carlton believes he drove too slow and that it was a logical decision to pull him over. Will thinks otherwise. Uncle Phil shows up to the police station with an angry Aunt Viv and confronts the station officer, and goes into full high powered lawyer mode, teaching the prejudice cops a lesson.
Fresh Prince Lesson #1: Racial inequality and prejudice still exist.
09 – When Will got a job
Uncle Phil gives Will the money he needs for the upcoming homecoming dance as a reward for his recent progress. Phil tells Will that sometimes he believes he was talking to one of his own kids. This snaps Will from his reliance on Uncle Phil’s money and swears to return to get back to his old Fresh Prince stands on his own two feet ways. When the school calls and informs Phil and Vivian about Wills absence from basketball practise and falling asleep in school, Phil doesn’t believe Will’s excuse. Cue cousin Ashley, to prove Will’s innocence.
Fresh Prince Lesson #2: We’re all wrong sometimes.
08 – When Ashley sang R.E.S.P.E.C.T
The ’90s were a time of social change everywhere. In this episode, Will and his girlfriend, Lisa, get into an argument when they both end up at the same house party. Lisa tells Will his angry with her for doing the same thing that he did, highlighting Wills double standards for himself and the women around him. However, their argument is overshadowed by what Will discovers in the bedroom. He’s younger cousin Ashley with a college boy. She swears nothing happened, but nobody listens. Cue Carlton’s Karaoke night.
French Prince Lesson #3: Sometimes people know whats best for them.
07 – Will proves Uncle Phil wrong for the first time
The very beginning. Will, new to bel-air and upper society embarrasses Phil in front of his law firm partners. When Phil confronts him about his behaviour Will tells him he forgot where he came from but Phil rebuttal this by telling Will where he came from, and what he believes Will himself, is all about. But Phil’s hypocrisy is brought to life when he watches his nephew play a beautiful rendition of Fur Elise on the families ornamental piano. Never judge a book by the clothes they wear.
Fresh Prince Lesson #4: Never judge a man by his clothes.
06 – Let’s go find you a flat
Every great must end. When Phil believes all his kids have made plans to move out and on to bigger things, he and Vivian decide to sell the mansion and move back east to be closer to the family. However, Will lied about having a flat and finally confesses to Phil, listing his reasons and his fears about Uncle Phil forgetting about his wife’s nephew. Uncle Phil tells Will, ‘you are my son,’ before he telling Will they need to go and find him a flat. An emotional end to an emotionally charged and hilarious sitcom.
Fresh Prince Lesson #5: Uncle Phil is the best TV dad ever.
05 – Give me the gun
After a trip to the ATM, Will is shot by a mugger after pulling Carlton from the firing line. In hospital the family visits, but the shooting has affected Carlton more than anyone else. He’s lived a sheltered life, but reality finally catches up to him. What happens next is a perfect example of how much circumstances beyond our control can affect our decisions. Carlton buys a gun. However, Will turns into the responsible one, demanding Carlton give him the gun. I saved your life man; I want the gun.
Fresh Prince Lesson #6: Even the best of us can succumb to negative surroundings.
04 – Will confesses to Carltons overdose
Its tough being a high school student. Will ahs basketball practise, a girlfriend, a job and exams to study for, all of which lead him to fall asleep at all times. Uncle Phil thinks he should take some time off, telling him he doesn’t need a job or can leave basketball practise, but Will is sure he can handle the pressure. When another student offers him something to keep him up, Will objects but throws the pills into his locker and forgets about them. That is until Carlton’s confuses them with headache tablets.
Fresh Prince Lesson #7: Our drug use affects those we love.
03 – Uncle Phil’s Pool Hustle
Uncle Phil doesn’t want Will going down a pool hall. Will thinks he’s trying to ruin his fun and decides to go anyway. Will think’s he’s a hotshot pool player, but he falls victim to a con man and ends up losing the car in a game of pool. When Uncle Phil finds out he’s furious and goes to the pool hall to get the car back. What follows is a lesson in how to hustle and one of the best scenes from the series. Uncle Phil is a boss. When Phill tells Will, he’s trying to stop him from making the same mistakes. Will asks him why he’d want to, since Phil turned out fine.
Fresh Prince Lesson #8: Every experience is a change to learn. (And more proof, Uncle Phil is the best TV dad ever.
02 – That time Carlton was called a sellout
Carlton is portrayed as a supreme nerd. Will and Jazz tease him about his lack of blackness. Everything about the show suggests there’s only one way to be African-American. Carlton and Will go through hell week for a college fraternity, Carlton bites back when the group leader doesn’t think Carlton is enough of a “brother.” Will tries to defend Carlton, but Carlton steps up and asks why he’s being held back by a fellow brother as if there aren’t enough hurdles for them both to overcome.
Fresh Prince Lesson #9: Together we stand, divided we fall.
01 – Why don’t he want me man?
Uncle Phil serves as a father that many young men never knew, including Will. But when Will’s father emerges after a fourteen-year absence, Will soon forgets Phil’s caring spirit. Uncle Phil worries Will’s father will abandon him again, but Will doesn’t want to listen. He even says you can’t tell me what to do; you’re not my father. However, when his father lets him down again, Will and Phil embrace in a powerful scene that sums up their relationship throughout the series and shows us why Will Smith is one of the most successful actors of all time.