The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is coming back to television... kind of. Prepare for some chillin' out, maxin', and relaxin' all cool with Will Smith and several members of the original cast, who are reuniting for a special that will release on HBO Max, which is proving to be the home of beloved sitcom reunions.
The HBO Max special will be unscripted and timed to honor The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's 30th anniversary. The cast members set to appear are Will Smith (who played a character of the same name), Tatyana Ali (Ashley Banks), Karyn Parsons (Hilary Banks), Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey), Daphne Maxwell Reid (Vivian Banks II), Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton Banks), and DJ Jazzy Jeff (Jazz).
A notable exception here is, of course, Janet Hubert, who played the original Aunt Viv for the first three seasons of the six-season series. That said, her absence for the reunion special likely won't come as a surprise to any Fresh Prince fans who have kept up with Hubert's comments over the years. Hubert once claimed that Will Smith screwed everyone over on Fresh Prince, and she dropped some interesting comments on a previous occasion that the cast reunited without her.
Sadly, James Avery, who played Philip Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, passed away back in 2014. Still, the Fresh Prince reunion special should be a cause for celebration among fans, although I for one will be disappointed if there's not some kind of recreation of the opening credits with the iconic theme song and/or Alfonso Ribeiro busting out his dance moves for "the Carlton." The night will reportedly be full of music, dancing, and special surprise guests, so I'd say the odds of at least "the Carlton" are pretty great. Ribeiro clearly didn't forget the moves when the show ended!
The unscripted special will look back at the show and its cultural impact since its debut in 1990. Although the special itself isn't scheduled to release on HBO Max until around Thanksgiving, it will be taped on September 10, which is 30 years to the date of the Fresh Prince premiere. HBO Max is already the exclusive home of all six seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air streaming.
News of the reunion comes not too long after reports that a dramatic reimagining of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is in development, with none other than Will Smith himself attached. The series was reportedly being shopped around to streaming services earlier in August, including Peacock and Netflix as well as HBO Max. Does the reunion special bode well for a potential reboot of the show coming to the HBO streamer, with the dramatic twist? Fresh Prince was known to get dramatic at times, but this reimagining sounds like it would be in a whole different genre than the original.
For now, you can look forward to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion special with most of the original cast (aside from the original Aunt Viv and James Avery) premiering around Thanksgiving 2020, and enjoy streaming the original run of the series on HBO Max. If you're in the market for some newer viewing options between now and Thanksgiving, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule!