The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
A heads up that this episode does contain spoilers for Season 2 of Peacock’s Bel-Air.
This week I’m joined again by TBG podcast producer, Ellice Ellis to talk all things Bel-Air Season 2. In our conversation we discussed Will finding a new sense of independence, the continuous complexity of Cartlon and Will’s dynamic, Hillary and Jazz and their growing relationship, and Uncle Phil and Jeffery and their continued bromance fueled drama.
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Our Production Team
Executive Producers: Dennison Bradford & Maya Cole Howard
Producers: Fredia Lucas, Ellice Ellis & Cindy Okereke
Bonus: Catching Up On Season 2 of Bel-Air
Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for a special bonus episode of the Therapy for Black Girls podcast. We'll get right into our conversation after a word from our sponsors.
Dr. Joy: Before we get into it, please note that this episode does include spoilers for Season 2 for Peacock’s Bel-Air. So if you haven’t had the opportunity to watch, please put this episode on pause and come back once you’ve had a chance to enjoy the series. This week I’m enjoined again by TBG podcast producer Ellice Ellis to talk all things Bel-Air Season 2.
In our conversation, Ellice and I discuss Will finding a new sense of independence, the continuous complexity of Carlton and Will’s dynamic, Hilary and Jazz and their growing relationship, Uncle Phil and Geoffrey and their continued bromance-filled drama, and of course the aspects of the season thus far that have had us delighted, concerned and rolling our eyes to the back of our heads. If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or join us over in the Sister Circle to talk more in-depth about the episode. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Here’s our conversation.
Dr. Joy: So we are back with another conversation about one of our new favorite shows here on the podcast, Bel-Air. We were fortunate enough to talk to Carla Banks-Waddles a little while ago, and have been very excited to see how season 2 is unfolding. As we get started today, Ellice, so usually we have our full producer panel here today but Ellice and I are hanging out solo today. Before we get started, Ellice, I do want to hear what have you been most excited to see in season 2 as an expansion from season 1.
Ellice: I think I’m the most excited to see how they will develop Ashley as a character because it seems like she’s a lot more timid and less I guess social. I’m just excited to see where they take her storyline because in the first season, we definitely got to see who she is. She cares a lot about social issues, she’s queer and so I’m happy to see them develop that but especially in a younger character. And then of course, Jazz and Hilary’s relationship was one of my favorite in season 1 so I’m definitely excited to see where they take that. And then there’s Aunt Viv’s art career, that is a complete departure from the original Fresh Prince. And I think we got a pretty interesting storyline just with her applying for this residency and seeing how Uncle Phil responds to her newfound career independence. I’m excited to see how we see her grow as an artist in season 2 as well.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, I think I am very excited to see how that storyline will continue to develop with Aunt Viv. But I have noticed that we haven’t seen Michael Ealy’s character yet this season. And so they’ve made references to him like him being in his office or he’s away at a meeting but we haven’t seen him. So I’m not sure if he’s working on another project right now, see him later in the season. But it does seem like we have stalled a little bit in that storyline just because we haven’t actually seen him. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing kinda… But we know when he comes back the action will pick up for sure. So I’m definitely interested in seeing that. And also the storyline with Will and how his basketball career continues to shape up. They’ve introduced this new character, Doc, who it seems like I guess an AAU kinda coach and kinda helps develop players. But it seems like there’s something lurking there. It seems like he’s trying to get over on Will and the Banks family in some way. I know we’ll talk about that later but I’m definitely interested to see where that goes.
Ellice: Yeah, I think Will compared to the original Fresh Prince is taking basketball a lot more seriously. And so in these first couple of episodes, we’ve seen him kind of grow as a basketball player and then as someone who’s kind of taking the reigns of his own career. And so he definitely, I don’t want to say side steps, but we see Aunt Viv kinda side-stepping Uncle Phil and talking to Doc about Will playing for the AAU basketball team. And then we also just see Will becoming more of a, I would say, maybe a star on his basketball team at school but not a leader. But I do think in several areas of life he’s stepping up. So in the first couple of episodes, him, Carlton, and the Black Student Union are planning a walkout, and we see him play a really large role in that. We see him take charge of his own career. And as he starts to rebuild his relationship with Uncle Phil, I’m curious to see how Will having his own dependence might have some tension with Uncle Phil being his guardian.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, I definitely feel like we can already see that kinda bubbling under the surface, right? And so at the end of the first season, we were kinda left on a cliffhanger because Will had moved out because he found out that they were kinda keeping all this information about his dad from him and he was really angry about that. And so we come back this season and we see that he is living with Jazz and so he is kinda living this more independent lifestyle. He’s kinda living with a roommate even though he’s just crashing on the couch. But in that first episode, or was it the second? I can’t quite remember, we do see that they make up. Ashley really wants him to be at her birthday party, he comes to the birthday party, they have a chance to talk, he and Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil. And he decides to come back home.
And so since then, we do, I think now that Doc is in the picture, see a little bit of tension rising. But we do see that Will has really become more independent, and I think thinking through more of, “Okay, what does this look like for me after high school and when I finally leave this house?” In what other ways do you feel like we’ve seen him maybe become more independent this season?
Ellice: Well, I even think about how he is exploring more of LA. It seems like season 1, everything was really set in Bel-Air, and now he’s in South Central LA, he’s at Venice on basketball tournaments so I think he’s taking control of his own experience in the city, especially considering that Bel-Air socially might not be the best fit for him. And so we see him kind of connecting with people outside of that, which is really cool, and I think it’s very different from what we got in the original Fresh Prince. A lot of it was set in Bel-Air or we saw how Will experienced the city through the Banks’ social experience, and they’re wealthy black people who live in Bel-Air. So that was, I don’t want to say limiting, but it wasn’t really until Will got to college that we saw him moving and shaking with “regular LA people.” But now we kind of see him all over the city. I’m excited to see how they show LA in that way. I love how they did that on Insecure so I hope they do that on Bel-Air as well.
Dr. Joy: Kinda making the city like an additional character, right? So you see all these different places to eat and where people are spending their time and that kinda thing. So I know something that we talked about a lot when we’ve had these conversations in the past is the relationship between Will and Carlton. And so we know in the original Fresh Prince there is this kind of sibling rivalry kinda thing with Will and Carlton, and I think that that was even more pronounced here in this reboot of Bel-Air. And at the end of last season, it kinda seemed like they got to a good place, like they were supportive of one another. It seems like they kind of had an understanding of one another. And I think as we begin this season, they’re also in a good place.
But it does seem like there is some tension now brewing following the protest and the involvement with the Black Student Union. Will has more of this North Philly kinda sensibility like, “We got to fight for our rights,” and that kinda thing. Whereas Carlton is more… it sounds like he was going down that path until the assistant principal or whatever role (I forget) the administrator plays got into his head and said, “Hey, this could kinda mess with your college chances. Do you want these awards?” Like, trying to kinda lure him into, like, okay, let’s try to play this safe. And it seems like now there is some tension brewing between them after Will kinda stood up on the roof at the protest. Cause Carlton makes comments around, oh, you were just doing that for yourself. So what are you thinking about the way that we see Carlton and Will’s relationship progressing this season?
Ellice: I think the matter of fact is that Will is a lot more outspoken, a bit more confident than Carlton but especially considering that he’s in a new environment. And I think it’s very threatening to Carlton to kind of see Will thrive - in sports, socially, with Carlton’s ex, while Carlton, unfortunately, suffers from anxiety. And so I think that tension is really difficult for him. And it seems like even in these first four episodes, their relationship is ebbing and flowing because there’s a moment where Carlton asks Will not to tell his parents about the panic attack that he has or the anxiety attack that he has at the protest. But it also seems like there’s some resentment that how Will acted at the protest in general.
And so it seems like we’re gonna see Carlton battling between, “Is Will my friend and my cousin who I can trust or is he a threat to the status quo and who I am at Bel-Air socially?” And we even see how easily the Black Student Union responds to Will, how they like his ideas, and how the first meeting they did not like Carlton. They were like, “You never come here.” And they felt like he was using them. And so I think as we see Carlton try to, I would say re-adjust himself socially, like he says his lacrosse team doesn’t like him. I think we’ll start to see whether or not he’ll use Will to his advantage and see him as a partner or someone who he can move around with socially, or he’ll continue to see him as a threat and as someone he has to kind of beat or elevate in front of.
Dr. Joy: I think it’s really interesting cause Carlton has kinda grown up in this life, right? These are probably kids he’s gone to school with most of his life, he’s been in organizations with, he’s played lacrosse with, and different kinds of things. But in, was it episode 3 or 4? I think it may have been 3 when he gets into the fight at the bowling alley, and he says I have anxiety because I’m trying to fit into this Bel-Air bubble. And I found that interesting juxtaposed to Will saying something like that after he got suspended and saying like, oh, nobody here really likes me or I don’t quite fit in. And then he walks into the hall and the entire Black Student Union is cheering for him. And so it does feel like there is fuel on the fire that now Carlton has worked so hard to try to fit in with these people who he’s grown up with, and here is Will who comes in and easily people love him and his ideas. But I wonder what it is that makes Carlton feel so on the outside of this community that really he has grown up in.
Ellice: It’s interesting because in these first couple episodes, I think what I’ve learned is that Carlton has never been “in” with the black kids of Bel-Air. Maybe Lisa and a few friends here and there. But it seems like he’s always tried to fit in with the white kids at his school. And so now I think that he sees how Will is navigating the black community at the school, he’s trying to navigate it like that. And I think that is what’s also overwhelming him. It’s like, oh, I’m black, I should fit in here but I feel like I don’t because I haven’t really gotten to know these people and know this social environment. So that really does seem interesting as well.
And then I think… I’m thinking back to season 1, the scene where Will gets into it with a white guy for saying the N word, like, they’re in the locker room. And it seems like Carlton, he was very complacent in that situation. And I think what’s maybe very triggering for him is understanding that he can no longer take that position or have that place, and Will is forcing him out of that complacency. And so I think that’s a struggle for him to navigate, and it’s very hard understanding that: I’ve been so almost domiciled in this white environment and not called out things that bother me. Now someone here is pointing out how all these things are not okay, and they’re naturally more outspoken, I feel the pressure to be the same way. But that’s maybe not who Carlton is now, and that’s who he’s trying to become but it’s not who he’s comfortable with.
Dr. Joy: We see Lisa continue to be really good friends to both Will and Carlton. To me, it feels like there’s more chemistry with Will but there’s still a very ease and comfort when we see her talking to Carlton. How are you thinking we are going to see Lisa play out with either of them? Or do you think we’re going… In episodes 3 and 4 we see that it seems like she’s casually dating Drew, but it does feel like there’s some chemistry and energy with both Will and Carlton. What are you thinking we might see in terms of her character this season?
Ellice: Ooh, Lisa. Lisa was a really interesting character in season 1 because I think she was one of the elements of the show that really brought out the tension between Will and Carlton. And now that she has a new love interest, Will has a love interest that we’ll get to later, and then Carlton also has one too. I think that we’ll see them working together more as friends instead of there being kind of that romantic undertone. It seems like they’re all past it.
Dr. Joy: Really?
Ellice: Yeah, all parties. I think so.
Dr. Joy: To me it definitely does not feel like Will is past it.
Ellice: Oh really?
Dr. Joy: Yeah. I have been reading this, I can’t quite tell if it is like… Because it seems like it’s most pronounced when Drew is lurking in the background. So there’s still this, “oh, you are kinda dating her now but I was with her first” kinda thing. It does seem like there is something there to me with Will and Lisa.
Ellice: See, now that you say that, I also feel like it still feels like it’s there with Carlton too. Because I think if Carlton hadn’t dated Lisa, the Drew situation would have been less pressure. Maybe he wouldn’t have gotten beat up. But that seemed like the extra layer to it. I think we’ll definitely see Lisa be a good friend to both Will and Carlton as they just maneuver Will’s basketball things, living in Bel-Air, Carlton and his anxiety, cause she knows them. Will when he got to Bel-Air and Carlton for a long time, we don’t really know how long. But I think that could definitely be a point of tension, like, navigating a friendship with people who you were romantically linked to before.
Dr. Joy: Very good point. More from our conversation after the break.
Dr. Joy: We’ve talked about the protests but we haven’t really talked about why the protest happened. So going back to your earlier comments around Ashley, we see these protests happened because a black teacher who is played by the OG Tatyana Ali, so the original Ashley. I kinda love that they brought her back in this way. She’s a teacher at Bel-Air Middle School, I guess and so she’s encouraging Ashley to read all these books to expand her mind, and having conversations about social justice kinds of issues in the classroom. And we see a white student telling the administration about the fact that she’s introducing these conversations. And so I think it’s interesting that they have brought in this kinda book ban, CRT looking at the curriculum that we see in the news right now, and kinda brought it to Bel-Air. And I wonder if that was always the plan because it feels like we have been having these conversations at least for a year or so, but I wonder if it was in time for Bel-Air to have included this from the writing room. What are your thoughts about this storyline playing out?
Ellice: I like the storyline. I think it’s really clever, especially because it involves Ashley and not the older children. And why I say that is because I think from my own experience my teachers at that age (it seems like Ashley’s in middle school) were really foundational. Especially some of the books I was recommended whether I read them in class or outside of class. And so Ashley at some point turned to have a relationship with the teacher or a relationship with any adult outside the home who’s not her parent. And I think a lot of those relationships are really foundational, like our coaches, or girls scout leaders, our teachers. And so it’s sad that she seems really crushed when the teachers gets fired because we know Ashley, she really cares about these issues. She seems like an avid reader.
And so I thought that was really interesting from that standpoint just seeing how even in those moments where we saw Tatyana Ali and Ashley was like five seconds, ten seconds. But to see how much of an impact she had on her and then to see the consequence of her leaving, I thought that was really cool. So they showed the importance of it from Ashley’s character development but then also the larger social issue. And so that’s why I really appreciate that storyline. I know it can get really tricky when you’re incorporating themes and plots that are happening in the real world, how to do it authentically. And so I think it was done in a very authentic way.
And then on the other hand, why I like the storyline is I think it gave Will the edge and angst that he’s been looking for. Like the expression. And we see it. When he plays basketball, he plays harder than everyone else on the team, he has I would say a little more pizzazz, he’s rougher than his other teammates. And I think although this wasn’t a physical thing, the protest allowed him to express himself in a way that I didn’t think we saw Will do previously. Or we may see it in what he wears, and I think what he did at the fraternity cookout, that was in season 1. And so Will being able to speak out I think is always instrumental to his character in the Fresh Prince and in the reboot.
And so I really like that we kind of got to see Will in his element but in a new situation. And so I’m excited to see just in the future how this storyline plays out but also continuing to see how they highlight the racial dynamics of Will being black and being in Bel-Air, and Carlton being black and being in Bel-Air. And what that means outside of a more minuscule scene like Carlton’s teammate saying the N-word. I think this was a really big kind of institutional thing that was important to talk about, and they did it in a way that felt very authentic, and it allowed us to see character development from all sides.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, I also really love that they brought in the element of some of the older students having been taught by the middle school teacher. So we see the high schoolers getting ready for the protest at Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil’s house, and they talk about how important this teacher had been to them and this is why they feel like it is important. So I appreciated them bringing in that element as well. We talked a little bit about what’s happening with Will’s basketball career. This season, early on in the first couple of episodes, we see continuing tension with the coach and tension between Will and his teammates because Will is like a win-at-any-cost kind of a player it seems like, and he doesn’t always take the team into consideration. So he’s supposed to be passing, he’s not. And so we see the introduction of this character Doc who is the AAU coach. Seems like he is scouting the local pickup games, and he’s around but also I think has an allure in the community of being somebody who can shepherd players into maybe the NBA or really help them take their careers to the next league. So what are your thoughts about the introduction of this character and what we might see with him as the season unfolds?
Ellice: From the jump, I thought he was a little shady. Well, I thought he was shady and then immediately thought this is maybe not the best person for Will to look up to or be kinda vying for that external validation. Because it seemed like Will was just doing a lot to get Doc to like him. And so not playing the game for himself but playing the game so he could get in Doc’s good graces. He didn’t even know he had a whole AAU team or anything like that. It was just, I know this guy is a basketball scout, I want him to know me. Which is a great goal, but I think it was a red flag. Like, no, I want to meet your parents. Yes, Will is older and has autonomy over what he wants to do but I think a guardian or adult who is going straight to you and not talking about your external support, I was like, okay, this is a red flag. But I also think why I like this storyline is that it forces Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv to really understand what Will wants to do in the future, what his goals are, things like that, and I think we start to see that play out. Will is very knowledgeable about what he wants in the future and how he can maneuver his situation to get it. And so, like we said earlier, I appreciated us being able to see how Will is just growing as a young man.
It’s interesting because we just talked about real-world storylines, and we know now collegiate athletes can make money off their own name and there’s NIL deals and things like that. And so I think Doc’s involvement kind of touches on all of that. And I love how we see Uncle Phil advocate for Will, get his contract right, Doc is not making as much money as he could off of Will. And I think that’s also a very important touch point and another part where… I mean, we know later on that Doc and Will’s new love interest they’re related, but they also might not have the best intentions. And so I think with the introduction of Doc we can see another father figure that Will might be looking for, now that the truth is out about his father and we don’t really know if he’s settled into that or if he’s still looking for something externally because of that, but that’s what it seems like he’s doing. But then we also see how Will needs to kind of lean on Uncle Phil’s support, which is something he might have a hard time, given what happened in season 1.
Dr. Joy: I agree with you. It definitely seemed like shady circumstances when Doc is introduced as a character. And in one of those early episodes when we first see him, I forget who he was talking to, I don’t know if it was Jackie or if it was someone else, but you see him pull a newspaper clipping about Uncle Phil. And so it seems like, okay, what is this about? It doesn’t seem like it is just about his ability to even make money off of Will. It seems like it is something involving the family, like is there gonna be a kidnapping, or in what way is he planning to extort the Banks family? It seems like very much there’s a plot with him and Jackie to lure Will into this web of who knows what. We just don’t know what it is.
Ellice: Right, and I guess we haven’t officially talked about who Jackie is. For people who may be confused or need a refresher, she is a girl that Will meets at like an outside pickup basketball game, and he obviously likes her. They’re flirting, she invites him out, shows him her side of LA. And it seems like there’s definitely gonna be a thing between them but Will knows that she’s related to Doc and we know it too. But what he doesn’t know is that they’re in cahoots. Part of her I guess goals with hanging out with Will is to get him to sign with Doc, which we find out at the end of episode 4. And so I’m sad because, I don’t know, I don’t want Will to get his heart broken or his basketball dreams crushed, anything like that. But I think it’s really cool for people who didn’t know - Jackie’s character was the character that Tyra Banks played on the original Fresh Prince, so I think it’s cool to see how they brought her back in a different way.
Dr. Joy: I didn’t even put that together until we were talking about this episode, and I was like, oh my gosh, that’s right. Yeah, so it is interesting that they… She’s very different, cause in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jackie is at college, she works in the bookstore in college. And so she meets Will much later in life but they’ve introduced this character now so it’ll be interesting to see how much we see of her. But you’re right, they have this flirty tension and he finds out at the club that she’s actually related to Doc. So the first couple of times they talk, he didn’t even know that there was any connection between her and Doc. And then he finds out at the club that she’s related to Doc. Which it definitely seems like a recipe for heart break. Which I’m wondering as we go back to, or at least thinking like, okay, could this be a second chance for him and Lisa? Cause we definitely know this is going to come too ahead. I don’t know if it’s this season we’ll see that, but it’s exciting they have announced that they’ve been picked up for season 3. So we will get to season 3. I don’t know if we’re gonna see it this season or next season when he finds out the truth about who Jackie is and what’s going on with Doc.
The other thing that we have not talked about that I feel like is kinda huge is that we see Geoffrey is back this season. I’m very excited to see him back on our screens. But it does seem like there is some weird tension, it feels like is a word we keep using a lot. There’s a lot of tension this season between lots of characters but there is this tension between he and Uncle Phil, even though he is back. What do you think is going on? Cause we also see him snooping in Uncle’s Phil’s, like on his computer, and it’s like what’s happening here?
Ellice: The bottom line is that they don’t trust each other and they’re trying to act like they trust each other. We see Uncle Phil ask Geoffrey to… Well, Geoffrey’s been snooping and he knows that something is going on at Uncle Phil’s law firm and they’re all talking about it, it’s very open. But I think for both of them, it was like a test. It was a test for Geoffrey to see if Uncle Phil would tell him and use him as a resource, which he did. And then a test for Uncle Phil to see, if Geoffrey found anything else out, he would tell him directly. And so I think that’s very characteristic of what happened with the Will situation. They weren’t communicating openly with each other, and they had set boundaries and both of them I guess crossed the boundaries. Or they expressed like “oh, I think you should do this, you should do that.” And they were both like, no. And so I’m very curious as to what the climax is gonna be in this new relationship between them. When is it gonna be exposed that they don’t trust each other and how are they gonna move through that? I think just knowing who this new Geoffrey is, he’s probably not gonna get caught snooping or anything like that. I think it’s gonna be on Uncle Phil who we kinda see right now is not trusting his law firm. And so he’s gonna have to lean on Geoffrey for support. I hope we see them more honest and more candid with each other because of that.
But yeah, I think it’s just very interesting. To me it makes sense Geoffrey went behind Uncle Phil’s back. And so having him back in the house, even though it was something so small, he’s trusted him for so long and Will shook that up. And so I think Uncle Phil almost feels threatened and I think Geoffrey understands that and is trying to maybe get ahead of anything he can find out for Uncle Phil, or stay in the know because Uncle Phil might not be telling him what’s up.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, I think it makes sense why Uncle Phil would still be mistrustful of Geoffrey. I don’t know that I know what Geoffrey was looking for on the computer, though. It seems like he’s thinking he can find something, and I’m wondering what is his lack of trust about?
Ellice: I’m not sure. It seems like both of them repeatedly mention Geoffrey’s relationship with his own children and so I know that’s like a small tension point that continues to come up. But I think what Geoffrey doesn’t trust Uncle Phil about is that, given that trust is broken overall, is he gonna tell me everything I need to know to do my job? Is our relationship the same? And so yeah, I guess he’s right to get back that trust or get back that intimacy in the relationship by snooping around.
Dr. Joy: Interesting. You brought up the law firm and unless I forgot, I don’t know that I really understood what’s happening at his law firm. He clearly had stepped away. Had he only stepped away to run for DA and he had been in the firm before?
Dr. Joy: But it seems like his partner is kinda going behind his back, but we don’t ever see Uncle Phil at the firm. So what exactly is happening?
Ellice: We saw him there once this season, we saw him there once. And so it seems like at the firm they’re struggling financially. Uncle Phil brought in the most clients, he was the big fish, the big shark there. And since he entered the election cycle, the election process, a lot of those clients and the attraction to the firm kind of wavered. And so now his partner who looks like does more business development, things like that, is looking to get bought out, to get acquired or to partner with another law firm. And so Uncle Phil I guess is a little shocked by that. And the guy says, “Well, you weren’t here, and this is what my contribution to the business is. And we can pair up and try to get the situation right but we’re in a bad situation.” I’m curious to see how Uncle Phil will handle that but it doesn’t seem like they’ve given that storyline some real weight. Given, we only are in episode 4 so I hope that we do see more of that. But what are you excited to see from Uncle Phil? Because I feel like there’s a lot of dynamics going on with him between this season and last season, so I’m curious what you’re most excited to see from that character.
Dr. Joy: I am really curious like you to see if we get more meat around what’s happening at the firm. Because what it feels like is there is this dynamic set up between Uncle Phil and multiple people in his life where they feel like they have to go around him. We saw this with Aunt Viv who went to talk to Doc instead of having a conversation with Phil about, okay, can Will start working with this guy? And then here in the law firm situation, we see his partner go behind his back and take these meetings. And so to me it feels like he has some kinda dynamic with multiple people in his life where people don’t feel like they can go to him to problem solve. And so I would like to know more about what’s going on there. Why didn’t the partner feel like he could talk to him and say, hey, we’re in trouble and let’s work together to come up with a solution. I think that that’s interesting.
Ellice: Yeah, I’m very curious about that. And then on Aunt Viv’s side, why didn’t you think you could really talk to him about Will joining the AAU team? Or why did you feel like you had to go alone? And so I think it’s gonna have Uncle Phil reflecting on some of his habits and behaviors that make people feel like they can’t come to him. Cause I’m also curious, and we haven’t talked about this. Hilary is running her own business or working with Ivy on the influencer house, and it does seem like she could come to Uncle Phil for a lot of her questions and a lot of the decisions that she’s making. We haven’t seen that much. But I’m curious if their relationship will grow in that way because he runs his own business, Hilary’s dealing with influencers, she’s always talking about contracts and things like that, so I hope there’s some synergy there. And it’ll be a good switch up from what we got in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where the OG Uncle Phil was really hard on Hilary like, get a job, do something serious. And this Hilary is doing that and so I wanna see how she’ll use Uncle Phil to her benefit.
Dr. Joy: More from our conversation after the break.
Dr. Joy: While we’re talking about Hilary, it feels like in certain situations we see her very assertive and in a take charge kinda situation. But it does feel like in this relationship with Ivy, there is some holding back and not wanting to talk to her about what’s happening with the business or does she need her to do certain things. What are your thoughts about the dynamic we see between Ivy and Hilary?
Ellice: I think with Ivy and Hilary, Hilary does not understand, financially, Ivy has the upper hand and so she can’t lose out in that situation. Cause, technically, Ivy could fire her from working at the influencer house. And so it seems like Hilary is in a position where she knows business-wise that her ideas are the best but she doesn’t have the upper hand. And it also just seems like Ivy doesn’t listen to her, and that Ivy’s more focused on growing her brand while Hilary is focused on having everyone level up together.
Dr. Joy: The other thing that we see, I know we’ve talked about this a little bit with Hilary this year or this season, is that the relationship with her and Jazz has become more formal now. They were kinda sneaking around at the end of last season, and this season we see she introduces him as her boyfriend. He meets the parents, she meets his parents, but this only happens after Ivy kind of like is making a play for Jazz. So what do you think we’re going to see with Hilary and Jazz’s relationship? And what are your thoughts about what we’ve seen so far in terms of them meeting the parents and stuff?
Ellice: It was interesting because, first, Hilary re-introduced Jazz to her parents as her boyfriend. You could tell they weren’t upset or anything but there was something going on. And so for it later to be revealed that Aunt Viv was just like, “no, he’s not like other guys that you’ve dated,” I think that’s really interesting. And I think them being linked romantically might bring out a lot of themes about class in general because it did seem like that’s what she was hinting at a bit.
And then on the other hand, Hilary meets Jazz’s parents and we learn that he’s Muslim. And Hilary wears a hijab and she’s quoting the Quran and things like that. And so I think it’s interesting seeing Hilary constantly shift herself in different situations to fit other people’s expectations. I think she did that in the original influencer house and she kinda did that with Jazz’s parents. And so I’m excited to see, one, Hilary and Jazz, their relationship grow, I really like them together. But also how she’ll stay authentic to herself when trying to get something from someone. It seems like she went through that with her parents, not in season 1, but they’ve kind of alluded to that. Like she was doing all of these different things to please her parents instead of what she actually wanted to do. And so it seemed like she did the same thing with Jazz’s parents, like I’mma dress like this and do all this to impress you guys but not to show up as myself.
And so it seems like she’s battling that in her relationship with Ivy. Like, I’mma take Jazz’s car because I know Ivy really wants it. I’m gonna let her drive, but that’s not really what I wanted to do and that’s not what I thought was best for the situation. And so I think we’re gonna see it a lot in both of their relationships. But I am very curious to how it’ll also affect Will because I know it can be super weird when your family member is dating a friend. And if something bad happens between Jazz and Hilary, how will Will be wrapped up into that?
Dr. Joy: I hadn’t even thought of that, but you’re right, I mean, if it goes left. We see that their friendship has gotten even closer because he stayed with him while he wasn’t in the house. So that’s a good point. We’ll definitely keep our eyes open for that. But part of what I really love about Hilary and Jazz’s relationship is that I think he really helps her to be her authentic self. So he tells her, “My parents would have loved you even if you didn’t do all of that. Why did you feel the need to do that?” And so it really seems like he helps her to stay grounded and be true to herself. But you’re right, she does switch up in all of the different situations and she shows up as who she thinks other people want her to be as opposed to just who she is. And originally, when she came to the dinner with his parents, I thought okay, she’s wearing a hijab maybe as a respectful thing. Initially, it seemed like it was okay but then when she started doing these Quran facts, and like he said, like a Muslim Wikipedia page or something like that.
Dr. Joy: Then I was like okay, she’s really going too far now so I do hope that we will continue to see her refine her voice as the season progresses and then to season 3.
Ellice: Do you think this relationship with Ivy in the influencer house is sustainable for Hilary?
Dr. Joy: Mm-mm. I do not think. I do not think it’s gonna end well. I think either, like you said, Ivy is going to fire her, or Hilary is going to realize, you know what, this might not have been a great partnership. Just because she has the social media following, you can’t work with anybody just because you think it’s a good idea. I think either we’re gonna see her fire Hilary or Hilary is going to decide to start her own influencer house and do things on her own. I don’t really see this going the long haul with them two. The last thing that I do wanna make sure we talk about is that we do continue… And we’ve talked about it a little bit today. We do continue to see this storyline with Carlton and his anxiety concerns. We see a virtual session it looks like that his parents are having with the psychiatrist. He is on medication. Did they ever name which medication he was on?
Dr. Joy: They never say that. But we do see them in a virtual session with the psychiatrist talking about keeping him at his dosage and thinking about what happens if we do increase it. We do see Uncle Phil talk to Will about if there are any kind of side effects or things that you notice. And so it makes me wonder what they’re planning. And I definitely feel like the fight might have been “one symptom” of what they’re trying to build towards in terms of medication and side effects. But I do think it was interesting that Carlton said I feel like I’m drugged up and I’m out of it all of the time. And so it made me wonder, what kind of medication are they thinking he would be on? Cause that is something you will hear people say sometimes, I think typically people who are on things like an anti-anxiety or sometimes even anti-depressant, will talk about feeling like they’re not really in their life and life is just kinda passing them by. And so it felt like he was alluding to that. So it does feel like we will continue to have conversations around what’s happening with his mental health and his medication.
Ellice: And I hope we do and I hope we start to see Carlton flip… I’ll say this. It seems like in his mind he sees the medication as a crutch and something that’s very debilitating, which it can be. But I think a lot of it is more how other people perceive him and how he perceives himself for taking the medication. Like, I don’t wanna be on this because of XYZ, how it makes me feel physically, but also how I don’t feel as confident or I feel like I see Will doing all these things without medication and I have to use it. And so we see in the fourth episode, he’s opened up a conversation about mental health and he seems very excited for that. And so I kind of hope he leans into that, like people are open to talking about mental health, this is not a bad thing, this is something that everyone goes through. As opposed to like let’s keep it on the hush-hush. And so I think we’ll continue to see Carlton have that tension.
But I’m curious if we’ll see Carlton talk more about very specifically what he’s experiencing. I think they’ve tiptoed around that a bit. Especially in a more, I don’t know if clinical is the right word, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen him talk to a therapist, ever. And so I’m curious to see if the show will explore more of that side of it because I do think, from a viewer’s standpoint, I do have a lot of questions about, why was Carlton initially on anxiety medicine and how does he articulate his own anxiety experience? I think we see it in very heightened moments, like the fight or the protest, but not kind of like the everyday ebbs and flows of what Carlton is experiencing.
Dr. Joy: And I think we saw some of it in season 1. The first instance I remember was him singing in the choir. Do you remember that? And he got really anxious then. And so it feels like what we saw in season 1 was a lot of him self-medicating with, I think it was cocaine he was using. And so after it came out, how he was struggling, it looks like they got him connected to a psychiatrist who started him on some prescribed medication. But you’re right, it doesn’t seem like he really likes to be on it and he may not like the way that it makes him feel. But it also seems like he is trying to keep some of that from his parents because he doesn’t want them to increase the dosage. It seems like he’s really…
Ellice: Yeah, he wants them to lower it.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, he’s really afraid of what could happen if they increase the dosage or even keep him on it, and he wants to just kind of come off it altogether. But you’re right, I also think it seemed like when he found out that the Black Student Union was having conversations about mental health and they were gonna start all these initiatives after what he shared at the bowling alley, it did seem like he was like, “Oh, okay, this is not something that they’re gonna stigmatize me for. Like I opened up this conversation.” So I agree with you, I hope we see him continue to lean into that and see more of the way that the school tackles mental health concerns through the Black Student Union.
Ellice: Yeah. I have one final question before we go. A little game. Who is at the top of your Bel-Air pyramid? Who’s thriving, who are we rooting for? And then what two people are at the bottom and we think they need some work? We need them to switch up their storyline, get their act right!
Dr. Joy: Ooh, I think it’s interesting cause right now I feel like I am most interested and drawn to Carlton’s character, but last season I didn’t feel like that. Last season I was really like, “Oh, what’s happening? I don’t know that I like this turn he’s taken.” But this season, I do find myself really invested in what is going to be his trajectory, and is he going to get his mental health under control and take good care of himself in that way? So I would say right now he’s probably at the top of my totem pole. I think at the bottom, I would say Hilary because I really want to see this assertiveness and her being herself, so I really feel like she needs some work. And Uncle Phil. I think, again, so much mystery around what’s happening, like I really wanna see more there.
Ellice: I agree with at the bottom, definitely Uncle Phil. So much mystery around him. And I think we do see him leaning more into being compromising a lot more. And so I like that from him. But I’m just curious to see how that will play out with his partner at the law firm, with Geoffrey, with Will. And then Hilary, definitely. I wanna see her assert herself more, be herself everywhere and also just not be afraid to tell other people "no" or to take no as an answer. And then at the top, I definitely am very interested in just Will’s storyline in general - his love life, his social dynamic at school, basketball. And so I think I guess kudos to the entire writing team because they’ve kept us really interested in Will, but also really breathed a lot of life into all the characters around him so it doesn’t feel like it’s the Will Show. And so I’m excited for these next… we got six episodes left.
Dr. Joy: Oh, we got that many left? So we got 10 episodes this season.
Ellice: We got 10, yeah, and then one’s releasing this week.
Dr. Joy: Okay, yeah. And I was gonna say the same thing. I really love that they took a show that was very Will-focused. Even though we saw some of the other characters in the Fresh Prince, it didn’t feel like we got the depth of storylines that we are getting in Bel-Air. I agree with you, I’m just very, very excited that we get such meaty stories around so many other characters so I’m very excited to see where they continue to go this season.
Ellice: Yes. We’ll definitely follow this up at the end of the season and hopefully we can have Fredia and Cindy on. And some other team members who watch it outside the podcast. I’m ready for our listeners to be introduced to everyone.
Dr. Joy: All the team members, perfect. Well, let us know, Ellice, where we can find you on the socials.
Ellice: I’m on Instagram @ellicellis, which is my first name and my last name but the E’s are connected at the end. And I’m on Twitter @thellicellis. Same vibe, all the E’s are connected at the end. That’s where you can find me.
Dr. Joy: Perfect. Well, thank you for joining me again today, Ellice. I appreciate it.
Ellice: All right, thank you. I had fun. You know I love talking about TV.
Dr. Joy: I'm so glad Ellice was able to join me for this conversation. If you've been watching the show, share your thoughts with us about season 2 of Bel-Air using the hashtag #TBGinSession. And be sure to share this episode with the other Bel-Air fans in your life. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory.
And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis, and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. Thank y'all so much for joining me. We'll be back next week with our regular episode on Wednesday.