The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air : Season 1

  • Network: NBC
  • Series Premiere Date: Sep 10, 1990
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Mixed or average reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 12
  2. Negative: 1 out of 12

Where To Watch

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Critic Reviews

  1. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Rick Kogan
    Aug 16, 2013
    For all of its frolic and delight, its social observations and conflict make it the television progeny of such substantive sitcoms as "All in the Family." [10 Sept 1990, p.1C]
  2. San Diego Union-Tribune
    Reviewed by: Joe Stein
    Aug 16, 2013
    The guess is that it will have staying power, primarily because of the presence of Will Smith, a rapper who does, indeed, go by the name of "Fresh Prince." Smith, half of the rap duo of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, is a natural, so likable and charismatic that he already has drawn parallels to Eddie Murphy from NBC's Brandon Tartikoff. [10 Sept 1990, p.C-1]
  3. Seattle Post-Intelligencer
    Reviewed by: Susan Paynter
    Aug 16, 2013
    While Smith's act is G-rated enough to give rap a good name, the show offers a new and not-so-safe perspective of the so-called "black experience" in America. These are not the Jeffersons. These rich people have their pretentions, but they're no fools. [10 Sept 1990, p.C4]
  4. Boston Globe
    Reviewed by: Ed Siegel
    Aug 16, 2013
    The most interesting feature of the program is how it stays specific to Smith's underclass style while fashioning a story that the whitest of white people can easily relate to. That's achieved, in part, by making Smith's relatives unbelievably broad. You've never met Boston Brahmins as preppy as these people. It's the weakest part of the program, but it allows Smith to have a great time playing Groucho Marx to his family's Margaret Dumont. [10 Sept 1990, p.35]
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jun 7, 2013
    The punch lines are predictable, but the kid and his stern uncle generate a great deal of comic energy.
  6. Miami Herald
    Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    Aug 16, 2013
    Until the confrontation scene, Fresh Prince coasts along on the considerable charm of Smith, who is making his acting debut at 21. Many shows before it have relied on their stars, but that last scene gives an intriguing insight into what Fresh Prince could be. [9 Sept 1990, p.H1]
  7. Orlando Sentinel
    Reviewed by: Greg Dawson
    Aug 16, 2013
    But the writers blow it; they don't keep Fresh Prince in character. When he arrives at the Bel Air mansion and the black butler opens the door, Fresh Prince mistakes him for a relative - a believable lapse for an inner-city kid. But the next thing you know, he's doing a dead-on impression of an English butler...Fresh Prince shows up for a formal dinner in his gaudy street threads and doesn't know which fork to use, yet he's an accomplished classical pianist. None of this adds up, and it drains away most of the fish-out-of-water tension that could have produced a terrific comedy. [10 Sept 1990, p.C1]
  8. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Aug 16, 2013
    Whether clinking crystal to a beat or jiving with the crusty butler, Smith is looked upon by even his detractors with condescending "isn't he something" adoration. Tiresome as that is, Smith's breezy and non-combative charm gives this the look of a winner. Even if, in concept, it's more nap time than rap time. [10 Sept 1990, p.3D]
  9. The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
    Reviewed by: John Haslett
    Aug 16, 2013
    The cultural clash contains a wealth of comic possibilities and kids may well take to the show although I found it rather predictable. [10 Sept 1990]
  10. Washington Post
    Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Aug 16, 2013
    Perhaps the writers, director Debbie Allen and executive producer Quincy Jones are afraid to show America how rich people in L.A. really live. As for the new arrival's "outrageous" behavior, that consists mainly of using slang expressions, playing a tune on the drinking glasses at the dinner table and wearing a funky tux to the party. Gracious goodness sakes alive, what next??? [10 Sept 1990, p.B1]
  11. Los Angeles Times
    Reviewed by: Howard Rosenberg
    Aug 16, 2013
    Fresh Prince of Bel Air is being touted as a sure hit. If it becomes one, it will be because of the raw likability of its star, rapper Will Smith, not because of his acting skills or even anything that's been written for him in this NBC comedy. [10 Sept 1990, p.F9]
  12. Newsday
    Reviewed by: Marvin Kitman
    Jul 12, 2013
    It's the old school of ridiculous sitcoms at its worst. [10 Sep 1990]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 55 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
  1. Aug 9, 2011
    Great show. Me and my brother absolutely love it! This really shows off the best of Will Smith. To sum it up in one word: Hilarious.
  2. Sep 18, 2015
    This is one of the best tv shows ever made, a good sense of humor and the best of Will Smith in fact I've only one word to describe this tvThis is one of the best tv shows ever made, a good sense of humor and the best of Will Smith in fact I've only one word to describe this tv show: AWESOME Full Review »
  3. Jan 6, 2015
    Hilariously legendarily funny show. Unfortunately shows like this from the 90's could never be like this again, but this show was so funny. IHilariously legendarily funny show. Unfortunately shows like this from the 90's could never be like this again, but this show was so funny. I feel really bad if you've never been able to see these show when it came out but even watching re-runs of this still make me laugh like they used to. Comedically legendary. Full Review »