Growing up, when I would watch sitcoms involving Black families, it would portray the normal struggles of African-Americans. They would struggle with finding jobs, paying rent, supporting their family, and even trying to stay away from violence and crime. Shows like that for example were, “Sanford and Son,” and “Good Times,” and even now “Everybody Hates Chris,” can relate to sitcoms portraying struggling families. Some would say that the struggling black sitcoms were the realistic view of African-American families. Once “The Cosby Show” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” began to air, people started to feel as if they were being mislead while others were encouraged and inspired to work hard to live up to that American Dream of a happy and wealthy family.


“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was a sitcom about a teenager from West Philadelphia who was sent to live with his wealthy Aunt and Uncle in their mansion. The whole idea of him leaving his mother to live with them was so that he could move out of his violent neighborhood away from trouble and for him to become respectable, responsible, and mature.


These two shows, “The Cosby Show” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” were similar in many ways. Both shows portrayed black families and not only were they black, they were also very wealthy. In “The Cosby Show,” Cliff Huxtable, the main character and head of the household, was a Obstetrician. In “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Uncle Phil, Will’s Uncle, was a Judge. Both shows never portrayed struggling when it came to wealth. The difference in these two shows was that one was focused on helping a teenager grow into a young man while the other was based on continuing to build a happy growing family.

Watching this show can form a "Para-social Relationship." People tend to feel as if they really know someone, mainly celebrities, when they watch them on television or see them in movies. They think that the way these actors are portrayed in the show is how they are in reality. Little do they know, they are falling in love with the acting and not that person in general. Will is a perfect example. Although his acting in the show and in real life may be a bit similar, it is only a show. What people fail to realize though is that they don't see what goes on behind closed doors. You can take another actor or actress and fall in love with their character in a movie or show and build a relationship with them from that without realizing they are acting. Its almost like a kid falling in love with Superman and later thinking he'll come to the rescue when you're in trouble.


As I stated before, this family is portrayed as a wealthy and happy African-American family. Not often do you see African-American families doing so well, but this show makes you think, “What if?” It is not necessarily saying that black families cannot be wealthy and have great jobs, but watching this show, for some people, is an inspiration and encourages them to work harder because now they believe they can live that life as well.

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