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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air demonstrates how forgiveness is supposed to work

  • The word "forgiveness" is thrown out a lot, but Will Smith and Janet Hubert showed the right way to forgive in ending their nearly three-decade feud for HBO Max's Fresh Prince reunion. "So let’s talk about forgiveness, especially since a lot of folks lately have been championing the idea of reaching out to those who’ve wronged you with no reassurance of growth on their part," says Briana Lawrence. "There’s this 'be the bigger person' narrative that can be really harmful to the wronged party if the person who’s hurt them has done nothing to earn the trust they’ve damaged. Here’s the first thing that really stuck out to me with this moment between Will and Janet: they talk to each other first. A lot of people, when they preach forgiveness, do it in a way that’s so public that it borders on being violating. There have been some very loud, very dismissive calls to forgive folks who have hurt us whether or not they’ve shown any signs (or interest) in doing better. These calls have been done in a way where you can absolutely be gaslit into just letting bygones be bygones. But on The Fresh Prince Reunion, Janet doesn’t immediately go into the room with the rest of the family. That wouldn’t be genuine and could’ve, potentially, done one of two things: 1) no one talks about it so no one gets uncomfortable, meaning it hangs in the air like an awkward elephant 2) everyone gangs up on the person they don’t side with. Besides, the conflict is between Will and Janet, so that’s who should be talking. The other thing I appreciate is that it’s clear that Will reached out to Janet. It’s clear that Janet is the hurt party in this scenario and she’s the one who was hit hardest (as she talks about during their conversation). Even if Janet clears the air over her publicized 'firing,' Will has to be the one to make the first move and make sure she’s comfortable enough to talk to him. He wasn’t hurt the way she was, so he needs to open up communication, not her. A lot of people leave it up to those who are hurt to reach out, never considering their feelings, and instead painting this 'bigger person' image that they think is a good look. What that actually does is force the hurt party to suffocate their feelings, not letting them air them out for necessary healing."


    TOPICS: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, HBO Max, Alfonso Ribeiro, Janet Hubert, Will Smith