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Peacock Blog Bel-Air

Bel-Air: Here’s a Season 1 Recap Before You Dive Back In

Everything you need to remember ahead of the Feb 23 return.

By Peacock Staff
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It’s been over a year since Bel-Air first arrived on the scene and turned the popular ‘90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air upside-down. And that means you could probably use a refresher on all of the betrayals, influencer antics, and power struggles that ensued ahead of its Feb 23 return. 

Let’s take a look at where we left off with Will, the Banks family, and a few key supporting characters, shall we?  

Heavy spoilers below.


Sure, it might seem like everything has changed for our protagonist Will by the end of S1 — he’s been plucked from his comfortable life in Philly and shipped off to live with his affluent family in Bel-Air after a heated altercation on the basketball court — but, in a poetic twist of fate, he is also right back where he started. There are (yet again) big decisions to be made about who he is, who he wants to be, and which of the worlds he’s caught between will help him get there. An unexpected visit from his estranged father, Lou, is the catalyst for this existential quandary. For his entire life, he has been led to believe that Lou is simply out of the picture.  

Curiosity gets the best of him in Bel-Air, though, and he seeks out Geoffrey, the house manager, to track down his whereabouts. When Geoffrey comes back with the files, Will can’t muster the strength to open them, deciding he likes his new life too much to jeopardize it all with any new, paradigm-shifting information. Turns out, he doesn’t get much of a say in the matter because Lou gets wind of the search that’s underway and announces himself anyway. Needless to say, Will feels betrayed by all of the people in his life — not least among them, his mother, Uncle Phil, and Aunt Viv — for keeping his whereabouts, and criminal history, from him. In E10, Will has run away — but not far enough, because Jazz tracks him down and tries to help him find the resolve he is looking for.  


It takes a while for Carlton to warm to Will. And…that might be the understatement of the century. Some of the animosity toward Will seems to come from a place of moral superiority and internalized racism. However, Carlton is also threatened by how quickly Will is able to win the affection of his Bel-Air schoolmates — and crucially, his ex-girlfriend (the two are romantically involved by the end of the season). While Will instantly becomes the MVP of the basketball team, Carlton struggles to keep up on the lacrosse team; While Will effortlessly (and even accidentally) charms his peers with impromptu step performances and a whole lot of flirting, Carlton struggles with anxiety and large crowds. He worries he’s been replaced as the golden child of the Banks household. However, with time, Carlton begins to see Will not as a threat but, in fact, one of his biggest and most important advocates. He feels indebted to Will for talking through his Xanax and cocaine addiction with him, and we even see him break down in tears talking about Will’s departure from the Banks household. (Not to mention, he also slips several 100 dollar bills into Will’s pant pocket on his way out the door).  


Lisa, the sweet and trusting daughter of Police Chief Fred Wilkes and ex-girlfriend of Carlton, is immediately sucked into Will’s vortex in E1 and the two begin hanging out. There’s lots of negging, some discomfort with the whole “cop thing,” and then the two get romantically involved. All is well until Lisa learns the “real” reason Will relocated to Bel-Air and the strings his uncle pulled to release him from jail. She feels betrayed and wants nothing to do with Will anymore. He tries to explain things to her (he didn’t shoot anyone, he just fired the gun in the air to break up a fight, etc.) but this doesn’t seem to land. They have plans to talk things over at a coffee shop but this gets derailed when Lou shows up unexpectedly. At the end of the season, their relationship status is a big question mark — but somehow not the biggest one (more on that later). 


The oldest Banks sibling, a college dropout with a passion for cooking and living out loud, is learning to navigate the treacherous landscape of influencer culture as well as how to cope with her parents’ scrutiny of her lifestyle. And how is that all going for her? Not…great. After repeated, racially coded jabs at her cooking content, a stint at an influencer house that goes south real fast, and a hypersexualized, out-of-context cooking video that reminds her how completely out of control she is of her digital footprint, Hilary is now fully living out of a hotel on her parents’ dime (until they find out, that is). At least her relationship with Jazz and a blossoming partnership with the much-more-successful influencer Ivy are providing some possible bright spots for the new season.  

Aunt Viv 

Aunt Viv, the older sister of Will’s mom Vy, is not interested in being arm candy for her husband Phil as he campaigns for the position of District Attorney. We learn that she had very different dreams that were put on the backburner when she started a family — dreams that included painting professionally — and as the season progresses, she finds herself longing to reconnect with this side of herself. When she encounters an art gallery owner Reid Broderick at a fundraiser, he gives her the words of encouragement she needs to hear (and has never heard from her own husband). This sets her on the path to apply for a prestigious art fellowship. Shockingly, she is selected for the fellowship but is paralyzed when faced with the decision of accepting this all-consuming opportunity instead of standing by her husband in his political pursuits and being there for her children (and Will) during pivotal moments in their lives.  

Uncle Phil 

Uncle Phil is a politician who is having a hard time connecting with Black and lower-middle-class voters on the campaign trail for LA District Attorney. Will’s arrival is a blessing in disguise; though there is some initial trepidation that he is being used as a prop, Will eventually helps prods him in the right direction, emboldening him to be more authentic and speak courageously about hot button issues that might alienate a contingent of voters. Meanwhile, Will is getting just as much out of this relationship, at one point telling him that he’s the father he never had. Of course, everything comes crashing down when his democratic opponent Fred Wilkes, Lisa Wilke’s father and Police Chief, threatens to expose the secret of how he bailed Will out of jail and covered up his wrongdoings. Phil ends up dropping out of the race before the secret gets out, but claims that he is doing so to be with his family instead.  


Ashley is the youngest of the Banks family, but you’d hardly know it from her precocious personality and advocacy work in climate change and for the LGBTQ+ community. Speaking of LGBTQ+, Ashley’s character arc over S1 largely deals with her coming of age and learning about human sexuality. She develops a crush on a girl, Lucia, and confides in Hilary that she is still figuring things out but doesn’t identify as straight. Her mom, meanwhile, has an inkling that she might be queer based on her growing interest in LGBTQ+ causes and privately expresses that she feels wounded that her own daughter can’t talk about these things with her.  


Vy, Will’s mom, makes the difficult decision to send him to live with her sister at the start of the season. But that is far from the last time we see her. Not only does she appear numerous times on phone calls (after the fight with Carlton, when Will’s dad shows up at the door, etc.) but she also comes to visit him in Bel-Air for his birthday. Understandably, she has a hard time accepting that her son has gotten cozy in this new environment and wants to make Bel-Air a longer-term living situation, but eventually comes around on it. We learn there is a lot of friction between the sisters and that what Vy fears the most is history repeating itself; As a young adult, Vy did everything to support Viv as she pursued her dreams of becoming an artist. When she became successful enough and no longer needed her help, she ghosted. She worries this might happen with her son if he stays in Bel-Air, with its endless resources, for long enough. E10 wraps with Vy learning that Will has fled the Bel-Air house after the encounter with Lou. She blames herself and, more than ever, feels the pain she has caused by sheltering Will from knowledge of his childhood. 

Some unanswered questions for the newest season:  

Does Will stay or does he go?  

Let’s start with the biggest question looming over the new Bel-Air season. Should Will choose to return to his life in Philly, Bel-Air, or forge his own path? At the end of E10, Will has fled his Bel-Air residence and doesn’t know who to turn to. 

Does Philly even want Will back? 

Sure, his mom does. But he also got “roasted” on social media by his classmates when he moved to Bel-Air and had a pretty bad falling out with his best friend from home when he came to visit.  

Will he stick with basketball or pursue a different track? 

For most of S1, we are led to believe that Will is on the fast track to playing college basketball on scholarship, but a few throwaway comments have implied that there might be more in store for Will in Bel-Air. Politics? Entrepreneurship? Step? The possibilities are endless. 

Will Geoffrey be rehired?  

One of the greatest tragedies of S1 was the firing of the loyal Banks house manager, Geoffrey. Will asks for his help in finding his father and when Phil gets word of this, he promptly (and quietly) fires him for going against his orders. Viv and the rest of the family seem very disapproving of this decision when they put the pieces together.  

What’s in store for Phil now? 

He’s no longer running for DA. So, now what? Will he actually use this time to mend his relationship with his wife and family, or hit the ground running on a new political pursuit?  

How does Will maintain a relationship with Lisa now that the cat is out of the bag? 

Now that she knows the truth about Will and his criminal history, it’s hard to know if he's lost her forever. And, if things weren’t messy enough already with her ex being Carlton, there is now some beef between Will’s uncle and her father that would certainly present challenges in rebuilding their relationship. 

Ummmm, what is going on between Aunt Viv and that art gallery owner?   

There’s clearly a spark. We all saw it — including Uncle Phil, who has taken every opportunity to hijack their flirty one-on-one time. Will he enter the picture in a bigger way now that Viv is immersing herself in the art world and will spending more time with him cause more strain on her marriage? And...she’s actually taking this fellowship offer, right?  

Have Carlton and Will finally buried the hatchet? 

Sure seems like it after that last emotional scene. But, after all they’ve been through, it can’t be that easy, right?  

Can Will resolve things with Lou? And does he even want to? 

We still don’t really know what compels Lou to show up to Will’s Bel-Air residence after over a decade of radio silence. Does he genuinely want to reconnect with his son or is there an ulterior motive? In any case, after that last shouting match between Will and Lou, it’s hard to imagine Will voluntarily subjecting himself to Lou’s presence again.  

Where is Hilary getting $50,000 from? 

Hilary has a massive fine to pay back for pulling out of her contract with the slimy head of the influencer house. Maybe her parents won’t notice if she throws that on their credit card too? 

Stream both seasons of Bel-Air on Peacock now.  

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