The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is considered undoubtedly one of the best sitcoms of all time. The success of this sitcom is that level of blinding that a recent New York Times piece asserts that when this show began in the year 1990, the networks, encouraged by the very success of The Cosby Show and the rise of hip-hop, were investing in the sitcoms that featured Black actors.
But in fact, when this sitcom was first aired, there was no Living Single that starred Queen Latifah or In The House that starred LL Cool J. Martin did not premiere until the year 1992.
Family Matters, which got its start in the year 1989 on ABC were the shows that did exist, were more wrapped up in the tropes of the standard sitcom, only with the Black casts.
So such appraisal, while well-intentioned, inadvertently glosses over just how good The Fresh Prince really was, a reality emphasized in the highly enjoyable reunion special of this week of HBO Max.
The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air: Major Highlights Of The Reunion On HBO Max!
Well, as we now look back in the time and can not imagine a world without the sitcom, the truth is that it is kind of surprising that the show was made at all. The television was dominated by the three very big networks at the time, NBC, ABC, and CBS.
The time of the 1990s has since become known as a high point for sitcoms featuring Black actors, but when the series was premiered, there were a few if any comparable shows on ABC or CBS; actually the Peacock was the only one that stood.
In fact, we can considerably say that NBC really had some kind of a monopoly on premier Black sitcoms, with A Different World, The Cosby Show, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, all at the same time on its roster.
Black cast classics like The Jeffersons, “Sanford and Son“, and Good Times existed in the preceding decades, but television was still largely for the white people. Hip Hop was also very far from the mainstream pop culture that was there force it would eventually become.
The concept of the show which was like fish out of the water, as several critics noted of the time, was not new. But marrying fashion, hip-hop culture, attitude, humor, and even rhymes were.