Now Reading
Review: Peacock’s ‘Bel-Air’ Season 2 Shines Bright

Review: Peacock’s ‘Bel-Air’ Season 2 Shines Bright

Peacock’s Bel-Air returns for its sophomore season and settles into its unique vibe beautifully. 

I must first give a standing ovation to the make-up, hair, and wardrobe departments. The Banks family has returned, and everyone on screen is killing the looks. Not since Insecure have I seen such a downright delicious-looking world on TV. With the recent call for “diversity” in Hollywood, thankfully, Black actors are being cast on television, but more shows than I can count have not brought their make-up, hair, and wardrobe departments up to speed. As I watched the first four episodes of Bel-Air, I couldn’t help but be blown away by the sheer perfection of each look. 

The lighting department is also doing sublime work. I love that the Banks family is majority dark-skinned, and this creative team has disproved the false belief that you can’t correctly light people of different complexions in the same scene. It’s lovely to experience the rich diversity in color and hues of various skin tones on screen. Lovely. 

As Carlton Banks, Olly Sholotan is, again, hands down my favorite actor on the show. This Carlton carries a rich complexity that we don’t usually see young Black men embody on television. At the beginning of Season 1, we see the negative impact of Will (Jabari Banks), the golden child, landing in Carlton’s life. In this storyline, not only do we see the well-known perspective of the young Black boy from the hood who is good at basketball, but we also get to see the trauma that young Black boys with privilege like Carlton endure as they navigate the pressures of expected Black excellence in elite white institutions. Season 2 gives the audience opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of what Carlton is dealing with, what he is hiding, and how he self-medicates. I love Carlton and his storyline. 

Bel-Air celebrates Black-on-Black love and vibrant, joy-filled, thriving Black life. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see Black men and women in loving relationships with one another, just dealing with the challenges of life and relationships. We watch young people falling in and out of love with one another. Love triangles developing. New love. 

We get to witness the challenges that occur in a long-term marriage. We see the love of fellowship, brotherhood, and friendship among Black men, various compelling situations involving the sisterhood of relationships among Black women, and all of the interpersonal family dynamics that give juicy conflict to this outstanding nighttime drama. This season’s showrunner/executive producer/writer, Carla Banks Waddles, does an outstanding job leading the team in weaving the various storylines of these characters together in entertaining ways that leave the audience wanting to come back every week to spend time in this world. It’s evident that not only are Black people in front of the camera, but there also are Black writers and directors, and I’m sure there are Black folks in every department of this fantastic series.

I love the dynamic between Uncle Phil (Adrian Holmes) and Aunt Viv (Cassandra Freeman). The challenges they face as a couple, as parents, business owners, and community leaders, give the series a rich texture that goes beyond the surface of wealth and deals with the consequences of social status and privilege. The social issues the series deals with this year are particularly relevant. The show does an excellent job of having the characters navigate gray areas and deal with messy situations. Nobody is perfect, and everyone makes stupid mistakes that leave the audience screaming at characters on screen to avoid drama. The entire writing team does a great job of interlacing conflict with practical ways to hold folks accountable and ask for forgiveness. There’s space for all these characters to be complex human beings who don’t always do the right thing. It is highly entertaining to watch them make mistakes and figure their way out of situations. 

I’m not sure if I’m just burnt out on Will Smith, but I was slightly annoyed at Jabari Banks’ depiction of the character Will whenever he was on screen. I’m not sure if it’s how this character is written or acted, but in the first four episodes, Will got on my last nerves. In Season 1, the energy of this character brought nostalgia. Still, in Season 2, it seems as if the actor has not matured into this character enough to embody it realistically. The making of Season 1 was a story that had me rooting for the series, knowing that Banks was a first-time actor playing a role that suited him because his look and mannerisms were very similar to Will Smith, the original Fresh Prince. But in Season 2, when Banks is on screen with more seasoned actors, his inexperience is glaring. I only had screeners of the first four episodes, so hopefully as the season develops, Banks will warm up into this character, and the writers will give Will more development later on in the season. But overall, the entire cast does a great job as an ensemble embodying their characters.

The majority of the actors are believable, and some exciting guest stars pop up throughout the season to represent the culture in exciting and wildly entertaining ways. In a world where everywhere you turn on the TV, you are exposed to Blackness being connected to violence, chaos, and death, Bel-Air is a respite to the negativity Black folks are exposed to through media constantly. Bel-Air is the kind of show a multigenerational household can enjoy together weekly. It’s nice to spend some time in a world where Black folks thrive. Thanks, Bel-Air.

Bel-Air is only available on Peacock and premieres on February 23, 2023. New episodes stream Thursdays.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
Scroll To Top