If you weren’t already in love with the cast of the new series Bel-Air, the Peacock project has added a new name to respectably ogle: Michael Ealy. His role in the popular show is just as chaotic as the countless others in his career, so we already know what to expect from his guest appearance. Mr. Steal Your Girl is back!
Since its February debut, the show has been doing well, which is a pleasant surprise considering the stakes of rebooting one of the most popular shows of all time. This revamped story of a young boy from West Philly has helped us fall even more in love with the characters we grew up with (except maybe Carlton 2.0). Every member of the first family of Bel-Air is being explored in such a new, imaginative way that it almost seems ridiculous now to think about how apprehensive we were when the remake was first announced. Bel-Air is good — like, really good.
The ability to build on storylines that were only skimmed in the 1990s original is a big part of its appeal. Phillip (Adrian Holmes) and Vivian (Cassandra Freeman) Banks are a sage husband and wife team tasked with keeping their nephew (Jabari Banks) on the straight and narrow upon his arrival in Los Angeles. Phil and Vivian’s relationship in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was dynamic, marked by mutual respect and equity – something that wasn’t always the case in TV relationships at the time. Even though their parenting styles weren’t always the same, the Banks always knew how to work together for the family’s benefit. Both Bel-Air’s patriarch and matriarch follow a similar pattern. Philip is running for district attorney, and Vivian is playing the supportive wife in his campaign, but her heart is elsewhere. Her husband’s shadow no longer fulfills her, especially since she used to be able to stand proudly in her own spotlight.
In episode 5, Aly makes a grand entrance as the mysterious Reed Broderick, a renowned art gallery owner with a knack for discovering new artists. Vivian Banks was an up-and-coming artist who had the potential to become one of the greats of her time before she became Mrs. Banks. However, life got in the way, and for 15 long years, her art was put on hold in order to focus on being a wife and mother. Despite decades passing since Vivian last showed her work in the art community, Reed is determined to recruit her as the newest contributor to his gallery.
Vivian’s pursuit by Ealy’s character isn’t purely professional or even platonic. The twinkle in those baby blues says he has a plan. Maybe it’s the slow, burning gaze he casts on Mrs. Banks or maybe it’s the behind-the-scenes work he does to make sure they’re on the same page. But even if Reed was acting normally with Vivian, the show’s more in-tune audience already knows exactly how it’s about to go down.
How did we come to this conclusion together as a community? Simple. Oftentimes, Ealy is stereotyped as the handsome troublemaker. Remember when The Perfect Guy went from boyfriend of the year to murderous ex? Was he the quarrelsome foil to Gabrielle Union’s dream man (played by Morris Chestnut) in Being Mary Jane’s final season? Who could forget his crimes in For Colored Girls? Different stories, same “oh hell naw” vibes. That’s just what Ealy’s characters do: stir up chaos with a smolder, a soft voice, and a crooked smile. It always works. It is totally plausible that someone would allow a man like this – and Ealy does look good, chile – to wreck their life, and his characters bring a lot of chaos to the stories. Although it would be nice if he became the nice guy, why pivot when you’re so good at being bad?
Is Vivian going to leave her fine ass husband for a man equally as fine? Perhaps. Reed’s sole purpose on this show is to drive a wedge between Reed and her husband, as seen in episode 6. From Phillip’s perspective, Reed’s sudden appearance is a reminder of who Vivian could’ve been had she not settled for a ring and a mansion in the hills, and Reed is a disruption to the life he and Vivian have built together. Also, he might not be too far off. Is it just me, or does Reed seem a bit…devious? There’s a weird, low-key stalker vibe about him, perhaps from the trauma of For Colored Girls. Fresh Prince did not have serial killers, but Bel-Air is a dramatic retelling. It could get dark for him.