‘Bel-Air’ Season 2: What You Need to Know
From who’s in the cast to certain plot points, here’s what you need to know going into Bel-Air season 2.
Reawakening a sitcom from the dawn of the ‘90s and turning it into a drama for a 21st century audience means synchronously displaying just how much has changed — and how much hasn’t. Bel-Air, a reimagined version of the classic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is like its source material in that it’s about the dynamic of a Black family. Going into Bel-Air season 2 though, it’s clear that the series (which has already become one of the best shows on Peacock) is intent on separating itself from the original.
The network censors are silenced, and coarse language like the N-word reverberates throughout scenes. Serious subject matter that encompasses drug abuse, mental health, sexuality and more is explored with no laugh track to remedy the tension. Unlike Fresh Prince and countless other ‘90s Black sitcoms that, as TVGuide’s Malcolm Venable wrote, “intended to be universally appealing,” Bel-Air isn’t playing that game. As season 1 showed, drama is at the forefront, and season 2 will presumably amp it up as we make our long-awaited return to Bel-Air.
Here’s what you need to know going into Bel-Air season 2.
Who is in the Bel-Air cast for season 2?
Season 1’s entire cast will be returning: Will (Jabari Banks), Philip Banks (Adrian Holmes), Vivian Banks (Cassandra Freeman), Carlton Banks (Olly Sholotan), Hilary Banks (Coco Jones), Ashley Banks (Akira Akbar), Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola), Jazz Simone (Jordan L. Jones), and Lisa (Joy Jones).
The new season will also include three new recurring cast members: Brooklyn McLinn (Cloak & Dagger, Black-ish), Jazlyn Martin (This Is Us, All American: Homecoming), and Riele Downs (Darby and The Dead, Henry Danger).
Season 2 will delve deeper into Lou and Will’s estranged father/son relationship.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air scene where a despondent Will asks Uncle Phil why doesn’t his dad want him, is eternally engraved in fans’ minds of the beloved series. In Bel-Air season 1, Lou (Marlon Wayans) shows up at the doorstep of the Banks mansion ready to lie in the bed he’s been making for 13 years.
When things take a turn after a toppling shouting match between Will and Lou, it only worsens their already fractured dynamic and causes Will to disappear. According to showrunner Rasheed Newson, delving deeper into the unfinished business between Lou and Will is a top priority for season 2.
The show’s soundtrack will continue to fuse classics with new Gen-Z songs.
A standout part of Bel-Air is its music. In Philly, viewers hear Freeway’s “What We Do” and Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares”; in Cali, viewers hear everything from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation” to Thundercat’s “Them Changes.”
But played alongside these songs that are considered classics are also tracks from Gen-Z artists: Amaru Son (“MiNi VaN” and “L.A.”) and Amindi (“Telly”) among others. This’ll likely continue to be a trend in season 2, considering that the series got Kendrick Lamar’s “N95” for its trailer.
Tatyana Ali, the ‘90s Ashley Banks, will be appearing in Bel-Air.
The actress who gave us several signature Fresh Prince scenes — banging the drums in the Bel-Air mansion when Will first moved in, reciting an interesting remix of grace at the family dinner table, and performing “Make Up Your Mind” with Will and Carlton as backup dancers — will join the cast from a more mature stance.
According to Cinema Blend, “Ali is joining Bel-Air Season 2 in a recurring guest star capacity as a character named Mrs. Hughes, who serves as the English Literature teacher at Bel-Air middle school.” Prior to Ali, OG Fresh Prince stars Daphne Maxwell Reid and Vernee Watson-Johnson (who portrayed Aunt Viv and Will’s mother, respectively) made cameos in season 1.
Season 2 will have more artist cameos, too.
A part of the allure of the original Fresh Prince were the celebrity cameos (particularly artists and musicians) made throughout the series. Al B. Sure, B.B. King, Boyz II Men — the show had many, many cameos from past and present Black artists.
Bel-Air has offered its own nod to that practice since season 1, having artists like Buddy and D Smoke make surprise appearances. For season 2, Saweetie has been confirmed for a cameo, appearing as herself in the series.
There will be 10 Bel-Air episodes, with the first three already available to watch on Peacock.
Like the first season, Bel-Air season 2 will also have 10 episodes. The first three episodes of the new season are already available to stream on Peacock.
Vanessa Elie is a pop culture freelance writer. She has bylines in Blavity, EssenceGU, Miami New Times, Complex, and Okayplayer. Find her on Twitter at @nessawrites1