"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in my personal opinion was the type of show that lived off of the praise “The Cosby Show” received. “The Cosby Show” was a pioneering sitcom for African-Americans in the sense that the aspirations and dreams African-Americans had, could be reached even if it was influenced by a television program. The main characters in each show were either breakthrough stars, or reaching their prime so it was only right that these particular shows were seen by a large audience. Some believed it was a conspiracy of Caucasians wanting African-Americans to create a show similar to “The Cosby Show”, in order to make it seem like the reality of African-Americans not making it was false based on a show.

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was based on the other side of the country and included the interests of African-Americans on both sides of the nation. How could the realistic part of “The Cosby Show” not be as inclusive, but “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was?

One thing I noticed about the analysis between “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Cosby Show” was that there were many other shows that showed African-American families and their interpersonal struggles in the home. Other shows like “The Jefferson’s”, “Family Matters”, and “Sanford and Son” were other shows that depicted African-American families, so why were they not categorized the same as “The Cosby Show” or “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”?

Maybe a great difference between these television shows in comparison to “The Cosby’s” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was that the monetary values of the home, and within the household was not the same as the other shows money flow and environment of living. “Family Matters” was the only show out of the three others that had a slightly good living environment and a middle class income within the household. “Sanford and Son” and “The Jefferson’s” was relating to trying to make it which African-Americans have been trying to do for the longest time. “Moving on up” is a term people will relate to African-Americans because people will always know we are trying to catch up because we have had such a bad start within our own history. “The Cosby Show” just clarified it more that we need to continue reaching the way the show portrays life for African-Americans.


In Jhally and Lewis article “Enlightened Racism”, Michael Dyson discussed the fact that African-American’s are looked at as human beings because of shows like “The Cosby Show”, and these people are also people that will represent the race properly. In that case, can “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” be a show that depicts the race in a positive way even with the negative comments and racist jokes?! These are some things that can be examined as well from the reading “Enlightened Racism”. Everything may not be the right thing just because it is making money for those people that are responsible of taking part in these shows. ( Jhally, Lewis pg. 5 )

The rise of African-Americans based on “The Cosby Show” shows two things. One thing it shows is the fact that this American Dream is attainable by people in the United States. The second thing it shows is that it is not realistic of African-Americans to have this American Dream and they will not be able to successfully do what it shows in the show. The regular racism is what it is and everyone knows, but this new type called enlightened racism is entirely different. It is the misunderstanding concept of what people do not see realistically. Now this won’t be the exact situation in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” because of the fact that they threw a monkey wrench into the show and the environment as a whole. Will Smith plays a character from Philadelphia, PA that must move in with his uncle, aunt and rest of the family based on his bad environment in his past area, and to get a much better education. This shows the difference between other shows like “The Cosby Show” because it is kind of like a blend of good and bad.

In “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, I always enjoyed how a family situation could always make you laugh no matter how much it seemed like the same things that happened to you. I remember in one of the episodes Will’s father made up a day to go on a trip with Will, and postponed it but Will knew the reason behind it and emotionally let it all out. It was a sad scene and Will just showed the epidemic of what the stereotype of African-American men do by leaving there children fatherless. This was a great episode to show because it showed the seriousness of this show because almost in a majority of the episodes it is comic relief. A para-social relationship is found within the characters because feel like you know them. In this scene I also saw how I could relate as far as knowing someone who was in the same predicament.

As a culture, African-Americans must remember that we will always be rising to the top, but still chasing the dream. A show like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is a great example of how you can make it. This is motivation to never give up and maybe try to find the best way to get through all the things that may be steering you down based on “stereotypes”. This show also showed how you must embrace relationships with the people around you, and how you must exemplify an all-around person regardless of your own circumstances.



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Jhally, S., & Lewis, J. (1992). Enlightened racism: the Cosby show, audiences, and the myth of the American dream. Oxford: Westview Press.

© Musashi Ellis