What links Will Smith’s Bel-Air reboot, Nash Bridges and Oprah’s couch?

Dance (the geeky 90s way) down the rabbit hole to find Lost survivors, a hitman and the confessions of a power couple

Now this is a story …

Eventually every classic TV show will get a reboot (what price Press Gang: The Substack Years?). Last year saw Don Cheadle narrate a reworking of The Wonder Years. A young Cheadle appeared in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back in 1990. Coming next week to Peacock/Now is a dramatic retelling of the sitcom myth: Bel-Air sees newcomer Jabari Banks arrive from west Philadelphia to sit on the Fresh throne previously occupied by Will Smith.

Jabari Banks
Jabari Banks stars in the retelling of Bel-Air … Photograph: Getty Images

Something Borowitz’d

The pilot of the original show was written by then husband and wife duo Andy and Susan Borowitz. Andy has claimed that the Fresh Prince’s cousin Carlton (he of the dance) was named after his college friend, the writer Carlton Cuse.

Andy Borowitz
… whose original pilot was co-written by Andy Borowitz, who claims Fresh Prince’s cousin is named after his college friend … Photograph: Getty Images

Cuse control

Carlton Cuse is a prolific screenwriter, director and producer who created Nash Bridges (itself rebooted briefly last year), and Bates Motel (a Psycho reinterpretation). He was also one of the writers on supernatural survivor series Lost.

Carlton Cuse
… Carlton Cuse, who was a writer on Lost … Photograph: Getty Images

Lost in the couch

Lost co-creator JJ Abrams made his film directing debut with the third round of Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible series, itself a kind of reboot. Back in 2004, shortly before Cruise jumped on Oprah’s couch, he starred in Michael Mann’s excellent hitman thriller Collateral, alongside Jamie Foxx (who later dated Katie Holmes, subject of the couch incident) and Jada Pinkett Smith, underrated but excellent as (spoiler alert!) one of Cruise’s targets.

Jada Pinkett Smith
… whose co-creator, JJ Abrams, starred in Collateral alongside Jada Pinkett Smith … Photograph: Getty Images

King Will

Matrix star Jada is married to Will Smith, although, as their compelling confessional chat on her web show Red Table Talk attests, there have been bumps along the way. Never not busy – and Oscar-tipped for King Richard – Will also helped to develop the new Bel-Air adventures. Whether the beloved, oft-parodied theme tune returns in some shape or form, remains to be seen.

Will Smith
… who is married to Will Smith, the original Prince of Bel-Air. Photograph: Getty Images

Pairing notes

Watch The new Bel-Air began as a three-and-a-half-minute fan film made by Morgan Cooper in 2019, which picked up several million views on YouTube.


Uncle Phil (controversially slimmed down in the reboot) may have been on a health kick in season four, but his description of “pillowy mounds of mashed potatoes” will have you reaching for your masher.

black and white cartoon rabbits going down holes in a red line
Illustration: Guardian Design


Larry Ryan

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Degrees of separation: what connects Seinfeld to Steve Bannon?
From the US sitcom to the far-right rabble rouser, we go down the rabbit hole thanks to the arrival of Jerry’s show on Netflix

Larry Ryan

30, Oct, 2021 @12:00 PM

Article image
What links Paul Verhoeven’s convent romp to the Sopranos?
From Benedetta to Showgirls – via Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill – we shimmy down the rabbit hole with the controversial film-maker

Larry Ryan

09, Apr, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
What links Jon Bernthal to the Monkees and Richard Gere?
Follow the ‘hot and goofy’ actor down the rabbit hole to find unlikely links to the original American Gigolo

Larry Ryan

20, Aug, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
Degrees of separation: what links The Many Saints of Newark to Hamilton?
The Sopranos, Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon and a duel: join the dots to get up to speed on what everyone’s talking about this week

Larry Ryan

02, Oct, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
What links Jeff Bridges to Kendall Roy and Jerry Seinfeld?
The actor’s new Disney+ show The Old Man ignites a chain of circumstance that includes his father, Lloyd Bridges, a clothing line and a mysterious wife

Larry Ryan

01, Oct, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
What links HBO’s Euphoria, an ‘affable arms dealer’ and the 1996 Perrier prize?
From Zendaya’s Spider romance to Dylan Moran via 90210, we dive down the teen show’s deep, dark rabbit hole

Larry Ryan

08, Jan, 2022 @1:00 PM

Article image
What links Joyride to The Simpsons via Bobby Gillespie?
With mood-boosting Irish comedy Joyride in cinemas, tumble down the rabbit hole with Olivia Colman, Jehnny Beth and the Jesus and Mary Chain

Larry Ryan

23, Jul, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
What links Kid Cudi to Serena Williams and Harley Quinn?
From horror movies to Wimbledon, where do rap star Kid Cudi’s twisty showbiz connections lead?

Larry Ryan

24, Sep, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
What links Top Gun: Maverick to Dennis Rodman and The Outsiders?
The new Tom Cruise flyboy sequel is out, so follow it down the rabbit hole to ER, a Bull in Korea and Francis Ford Coppola

Larry Ryan

28, May, 2022 @12:00 PM

Article image
What links Eleanor Roosevelt and The Simpsons to James Callaghan’s daughter?
With the launch of TV drama The First Lady, we go down the rabbit hole with Michelle Pfeiffer, Nora Ephron and Bill Clinton

Larry Ryan

11, Jun, 2022 @12:00 PM