Bel-Air: What happened to Will’s father?
Peacock’s revival of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunites us with some of our favorite characters in a new form. Newcomer Jabari Banks follows in Will Smith’s footsteps as Will, while Adrian Holmes plays Banks family patriarch Philip Banks. Vivian (Cassandra Freeman), Carlton (Olly Sholotan), Hilary (Coco Jones) and Ashley Banks (Akira Akbar) have also been recast, while April Parker plays Jones Will’s mother. And during the Season 1 finale, we finally reunited with Will’s father, Lou (played this time by Marlon Wayans).
For those who don’t remember, Lou (originally played by Ben Vareen) left his family in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Will was only 5 years old, leaving Vy to raise Will alone. Per Hilary, he was “a blackjack who left him and his mother flat.” Lou became a trucker and was absent for most of Will’s life until season four episode 24 (“Daddy’s Got a Brand New Excuse”), when he unexpectedly showed up in Bel Air after 14 years. He and Will start dating, and Lou even invites Will to join him on a cross-country road trip for the summer.
In the ’90s rerun of the series, Will is happy to have his father back in his life, but his joy is cut short after Lou reverts to his selfish ways and leaves again. He tells Will that some “business” has come up that he needs to take care of and that their journey will have to wait. Will tries to shake the whole thing off but eventually breaks down during a memorable emotional conversation with Uncle Phil.
“Then I don’t need him, and I don’t need him now,” Will tells Uncle Phil. “I’ll get through college without him. I’ll get a great job without him. I’m getting married to a beautiful sweetheart and I have a number of children. I’m going to be a better father than he ever was and I don’t fucking need him for that because he could never fucking teach me how to love my kids.” Through tears, Will then asks Uncle Phil, “Why will he not me man?”
How does ‘Bel-Air’ address Will’s absent father in the reimagined drama? Read on to find out.
What Happens to Will’s Dad in Bel-Air Season 1?
At first it looked like Lou wouldn’t appear in “Bel-Air,” but that ultimately wasn’t the case. When Vy visits Will in the eighth episode of the first season of “Bel-Air,” she tells Viv and Phil that she plans to tell Will the truth about his father. Neither Viv nor Phil think it’s a good idea and advise against it. Lou then shows up in the final episode of season one, and it turns out he didn’t really leave his family — he was in prison and didn’t want Will to see him behind bars. However, his reunion with Will does not have a happy ending.
After implying that Vy is the reason he went to jail, Lou and Will get into a heated argument which ends with the former saying to his son, “Being with your mama was the Worst mistake I’ve ever made in my life.” The two exchange some more colorful language and Lou grabs Will by the neck before Uncle Phil finally steps in to calm her down. After cursing his father, Will tells Lou, “I never want to see you again,” and in so many words advises him to find a ditch to lie in.
Lou then storms out followed by Will who packs a bag and leaves his family’s mansion after feeling betrayed by them and especially Uncle Phil for fighting so hard to keep Lou out of Will’s life. The first season of “Bel-Air” ends with Will at odds with his family and staying with Jazz (Jordan L. Jones) as he ponders what to do next.
Will’s dad appear in Bel-Air season 2?
Considering the tumultuous state of their relationship in the first season, Will’s father is only mentioned in the second season of Bel-Air. It doesn’t look like Wayans’ Lou will be returning any time soon for a reconciliation. In a 2022 interview with POPSUGAR, former co-showrunner Rasheed Newson said season two will continue to explore the aftermath of Will and Lou’s fight to bring the Banks family back together. “This is probably our first mission and it won’t be easy,” he noted. “One of the things we talked about is that on a sitcom, at the end of those 30 minutes, every problem we have is solved. [But] You lied to that boy for years. He feels like he really came here, opened his heart to them, trusted them, and now he feels betrayed. It’s going to be very difficult for them to rebuild.”
The season 2 premiere picks up two weeks after the season 1 finale, with Will still furious at how Uncle Phil handled the situation with his father. For much of the first episode, titled “A Fresh Start,” Will avoids communication with Uncle Phil, making an effort to talk to everyone else in his family besides him. However, the two finally get together to settle their differences at Ashley’s 13th birthday party.
Though Uncle Phil apologizes to Will, it appears to be a slow rebuilding to bring their bond back to where it once was.
— Additional reporting by Njera Perkins
Image Source: Peacock