The Fresh Prince of Bel-air V. The Martin Show

By Patrick Battle, scene editor  and Tishawna Williams, online editor

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a 90’s American sitcom which was featured on NBC. The show aired on September 10, 1990 through May 20th 1996 with 148 episodes. The show stars Will Smith, who plays a fictionalized version of himself. The plot features his fictional character as a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia. Throughout the duration of the show, he lives with his wealthy aunt Vivian and uncle Phillip Banks in Bel-Air, Los Angeles. The six season sitcom follows Will as he adjusts from urban Philadelphia life to the upper-class life of the Banks Family.

Here are the reasons why I feel Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was the better show:

* Fresh Prince mirrored the conflicts that come with everyday life and society. A great example would be the episode when Will was inducted into a fraternity who denied Carlton because he acted “white.” Just like most shows in the 90’s, Fresh Prince teaches you about the struggles of being African American in the United States, no matter the financial status.

* Will Smith mostly improvised while on set. He did not follow a script for some of his episodes. One of the most memorable moments was when Will broke character when speaking on his absent father.

* The theme song was one of the best parts of the show. Created in only 15 minutes, the song was written by Quincy Jones, who also served as the show’s executive producer, and produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff. The song explains Will’s transition from Philadelphia to Bel-air. Will raps the theme himself. The theme alone is another reason why The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a better show.

* The characters added tremendously to the comic flare of the show. Besides Will, Carlton, Geoffrey, Hilary, and Will’s best friend in the show, Jazz, all of them were hilarious in their own unique way.

The American sitcom ‘Martin’ aired on FOX for five seasons and 132 episodes from 1992 to 1997. Starring Martin Lawrence, the show followed Martin, a radio host in Detroit, and his love roller coaster with his girlfriend, and eventually wife, Gina (Tisha Campbell-Martin). While Gina only has one true friend Pam (Tichina Arnold) who is not too fond of Martin, Martin has two childhood friends: Tommy (Tommy Strawn) and Cole (Carl Anthony Payne II). The four of them are the foundation of the television series that was highly accredited in the 90s. There are many ways to argue why this show was better than ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’ In this comparison, the main factors will be romance, acting skills, comedy, fashion, and the legendary sounds of their opening themes. Below is a list of reasons why ‘Martin’ is better than ‘The Fresh Prince’:

* The story line of Martin was based off a realistic and consistent black love story following Martin and Gina from the time they started dating to the time they were married and moving to Los Angeles. In addition, Martin definitely had better comedy. Although Martin was the only professional comedian, each character contributed to the comedic storyline.

* Another factor that made Martin unique was the fact that he could perform different personalities on the show through nine different characters. These characters are Ama Payne, Dragonfly Jones, Elroy Preston, King Beef, Sheneneh, Jerome, Otis, Roscoe and of course, himself.

* Fun Fact: Kid from the highly acclaimed ‘Kid n Play’ Rap group produced the theme for Martin’s show. Kid would eventually appear on the show for one of the more preeminent episodes when Sheneneh won a competition on the radio to go on a date with him. The episode got its reputation when Martin’s character remixed Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady” by singing “Forever Sheneneh.”

* Martin was a show that focused on the reality of being in love and coming up in the world. The evolution of Martin and Gina’s relationship is undeniably amazing compared to other shows. The television series explored the various struggles of finances, trust, loyalty, ego, and pride. More importantly, Martin and Gina both showcased what true love is. I prefer Martin over The Fresh Prince because Martin created a desire for innovative love surrounded by a group of friends who were true, loyal, and supportive.

Both shows are much respected in the black community, even contemporarily. Many important topics were discussed in episodes in a more entertaining and comedic way that brought families together at the television on weeknights. We hope to see more television shows that showcase important issues within our community. These two shows are great examples of how impactful thought-provoking scripts can be to both teenagers and adults alike.