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Bel-Air EP Morgan Cooper On Whether He Considered Setting The New Show In The '90s - Exclusive

The sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" made a splash when it hit the air waves in 1990, and even today, the show is still popular. It's definitely a product of the '90s, with the questionable fashion and zany sitcom rhythms to match, but "The Fresh Prince" managed to work some deep topics into its comedy, including stories about gun violence, racism, and sexism.

Given that '90s nostalgia is all the rage on TV nowadays, it would have made sense to set "Bel-Air," the dramatic reimagining of the sitcom now on Peacock, in the decade the original series took place. Instead, the show is set in the present day, enabling it to explore what happens when Philadelphia-raised Will comes to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in California in 2022. This gives it the opportunity to address issues that were brought up in "The Fresh Prince" from a modern perspective, while also exploring new ones like defunding the police.

Looper spoke exclusively to "Bel-Air" co-writer, director, and executive producer Morgan Cooper, the man whose creative vision is brought to life in the reboot, about whether he ever considered setting the show in the '90s.

It had to be 2022

It would have been understandable had Cooper decided to ride the current wave of nostalgia and set "Bel-Air" in the '90s. However, Cooper said he always imagined the show taking place in the present, even though he also admitted that he'd wondered about what could have been. "I'll be honest with you," Cooper started, "when the vision [for 'Bel-Air'] hit me, it was always set in modern-day life, but there was a part of me later on that was always like, 'What if I grounded it, but it was in the '90s?'"

In the end, Cooper believes that setting the show in the here and now was the right call. "Honestly, I don't think it would've had the same type of flavor and energy that the vision that hit me really called for, ultimately [if it had been set in the '90s]," Cooper reflected. "It's all about creating from an honest place and the vision hit me as something that was a modern drama, you know what I mean? Something that people today can relate to, and we have so many pressing things in the world, socially and economically, that I felt like this was a show that could allow us to speak to those things in a way that's super fun, super entertaining and following Will's journey as a fish out of water in this new world."

New episodes of "Bel-Air" are available on Thursdays on Peacock.