The 90s brought a lot of fab to American culture. We owe thanks to the 90s for iconic movies, the best 90s toys, fashion, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will Smith is the one of the world’s biggest movie stars. Lately, he’s been sharing a lot of the life lessons he’s learned in his 50 years (he’s 50??) on his youtube channel and instagram page with messages of hope, conquering fear and maintaining love in his marriage (and even bungee-jumping into the Grand Canyon). But, before the blockbusters and movie star status, he was the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the cocky kid from West Philly having to find his way with his bougie Bel-Air family.
There were a lot of laughs but the show taught us some deep life lessons along the way. Whether we were laughing or crying, there was always a takeaway. Here are some best lessons we learned from chillin’ out max and relaxin all cool with Big Willie and the fam.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
In the episode ‘Just Say Yo,’ Will struggles to meet the demands of his new life in Bel-Air between schoolwork and the basketball team. A friend gives him speed to stay awake much like Jesse in Saved by the Bell when she took the caffeine pills.
Will DOESN’T actually end up taking them, but Carlton accidentally DOES - landing him in the hospital. In the face of Carlton’s near-death, Will is honest with his family and what went down.
The heartwarming moment shows that behind the laughs, Will really cares about his cousin - and telling the truth. The family embraces him in a big emotional hug and we are as relieved as he is to know honesty can bring everyone closer.
Dealing With Disappointment
In season 4, Will’s estranged father shows up after years away from his family. Uncle Phil knows better and thinks this can only end in disappointment - and he is right.
Will’s father ditches him on a trip they planned. He asks his Uncle Phil “How come he don’t want me, man?” In this moment it’s clear that Uncle Phil is the dad that Will never had but the one he deserves.
The giant leap of faith he took to move from West Philly to Bel-Air brought him closer to love and family than he ever realized. Try to watch without crying. I dare you.
Coming To Terms With Tragedy
When Uncle Phil has a heart attack, his family visits him in the hospital - except for Carlton who can’t handle the reality of his father’s health scare. He stays home cleaning and in a state of denial. Will confronts him and when he tells Will he can’t see his father with tubes coming out his nose, Will lays down the truth and reminds Carlton he’s lucky to even have a dad at all and to stop being selfish. Carlton is forced to confront his fears and eventually makes the visit. Sometimes we all need a little tough love.
Ashley asks Hillary about having sex for the first time and confides in her that she’s considering it with her boyfriend. Hillary tells her “For as long as I can remember you have been independent, responsible and smart. I know you're aware of all the issues and whatever decision you do make I'm always here for you."
It’s an intimate moment between sisters and not the usual “wait until you’re older” talk. Respect is at the core of their relationship, even if they haven’t always gotten along and their personalities are sometimes at odds.
Violence Is Not The Answer
During an ATM robbery, Will gets shot protecting Carlton. When Carlton visits Will in the hospital, he tells him he’s bought a gun to protect himself.
Despite being shot, Will pleads with him to give him the gun. This episode showed us that even as a victim of a violent act, Will doesn’t want to fight violence with violence. He had to leave a violent home in West Philly and he’s gained some perspective. It takes courage and insight to take the non-violent approach to a very violent act.
Family’s Got Your Back
No matter how many times Will slipped up, whether he was driving drunk or he tried to steal Carlton’s girlfriend while he was sick with the flu, there was always a moral to the story - and his west coast family was always there to help him learn it. There were consequences, but the Banks family was willing to dig deep and guide Will (or Carlton, Hillary, Ashley or even Geoffrey) into the right direction. And, the learning went both ways.
Uncle Phil and Vivian learned just as much from Will as he did from them. Will stepped up when Uncle Phil avoided going with Vivian to Lamaze class and even though it led to a wild situation where Will went out with one of the single pregnant women in the class (and was on a date with her when she went into labor), in the end, it forced Uncle Phil to examine the root of his inability to be there for Vivian and to resolve it.
Never Stop Dancing
This show taught us that if all else fails, or even if everything succeeds, remember to dance! Fresh Prince might have some of the best dance moves ever seen on television. Are you happy? Dance! Are you entering a room? Dance! Did you just tell a joke? Dance! Are you alone in the house? Do the Carlton! Dancing was a theme. Are you doing The Carlton or the Jump on it?
Did Fresh Prince get you in the feels? What was your favorite, most heartwarming moment?