There's a "desperate undertone to the prospect of Bel-Air becoming a reality," Charles Holmes says of Will Smith's plan to turn cinematographer Morgan Cooper's Fresh Prince viral trailer Bel-Air into a full-blown TV series. Holmes points out that Fresh Prince "already had layers of tension and complexity in its best episodes," which paved the way for Smith having one of the most successful acting careers of his generation. Holmes adds: "Reinventing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a realistic, gritty drama not only suggests that merely existing as a beloved sitcom is no longer enough — it also fails to acknowledge that the show was always part drama operating within the structure of a family-friendly sitcom. Fresh Prince thrived during a boom time for lack television. In the Nineties, your average black sitcom (Martin, A Different World, The Jamie Foxx Show) was concerned with blue-collar anxieties or the mundane reality of a middle-class existence. These shows were colorful and jagged disrupters at a time when network TV advertisers had finally realized that black people had disposable income like their white peers. One crucial outcome of having so many black shows to choose from is that very few of those shows had to build their runs around justifying a singular vision of blackness. Instead, they gave a new generation of characters the chance to occupy a space where their trauma was often implicit, but not the first or even most important trait about them. (Kenan & Kel, to take just one example, would have been a lot less funny if it included a crushing season-long arc about the ways multinational soft-drink companies market to black communities.) Many of the most remembered and critically adored moments from the original Fresh Prince — Will and Carlton getting racially profiled by the police, Carlton overdosing on amphetamines, Will getting shot — were also the most intense. Will’s tearful monologue about his in-show father abandoning him in 'Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse' was so effective that fans believed Smith’s real dad was a deadbeat. Part of what made Will defiantly sobbing on Uncle Phil’s shoulder so visceral was the way that scene played against the context of those two characters roasting each other season after season. The comedy that defined The Fresh Prince made its moments of drama more real, and those moments of drama made the jokes around them funnier. All of it was rooted in Smith’s preternatural ability to inspire intense joy and deep pain in his audience. As his subsequent career has shown, we’re as eager to believe he can save the world from fast-talking aliens as we are to see him embody the greatest boxer of all time."