Great Job, Internet!: On The Fresh Prince’s anniversary, proof that Will Smith elevates even the lamest script

Twenty-five years ago today, The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air cabbed its way into America’s hearts—or, more specifically, Will Smith did. The often cartoonish and broadly drawn sitcom ran on NBC for six years, though it would’ve felt right at home among the good-natured and lowbrow charms of ABC’s TGIF block in that same era, perhaps nestled in between Step By Step and Family Matters. Some of this might be the result of Smith’s natural charisma: The actor has always played to the cheap seats, and especially before solidifying his dramatic chops, his hammy tendencies and talent for pratfalls made for easy laughs. The series wasn’t always strong script-wise, but it more than made up for writing weaknesses with its cast, especially the talented James Avery as Philip Banks, and Alfonso Ribeiro, who soon revealed a propensity for full-body comedic energy that almost rivaled Smith …

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