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The Ending Of Bel-Air Season 1 Explained

Warning: contains spoilers for "Bel-Air" Season 1

"Bel-Air" is a darker, dramatic, more realistic reimagining of the light-hearted, campy '90s sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." The concept is the same: a young Black man from the rough streets of Philadelphia gets into a fight, his mom gets scared, and he ends up moving in with his aunt and uncle in Bel-Air, California. But, unlike the original, a very different series of hijinks ensue.

The characters have the same names, but the show takes some interesting and nuanced liberties with the characters. Carlton (Olly Sholotan) isn't just a snobby private school kid; he's a lost soul desperately trying to fit in while struggling with a drug problem and a severe anxiety disorder. Hilary (Coco Jones) is a social media influencer who is gently nudged out of the nest and must make it on her own in the real world. Uncle Phil (Adrian Holmes) isn't just a lawyer — he's trying to run for district attorney so that he can clean up his city and make the world a better place. Aunt Viv (Cassandra Freeman) is re-imagined as an artist (instead of a university professor) who sacrificed her potential career to be a supportive wife and a stay-at-home mom. Will (Jabari Banks) moving out to Bel-Air does indeed turn everyone's lives upside down — but in a lot of ways, by the end of the series' first season, it's for the better.

Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil's marriage is stronger than ever, despite their challenges

Throughout the course of Season 1, a series of events coalesce together and motivate Vivian Banks to pursue her artistic aspirations again after over a decade of "retirement." Back in the day, she was an up-and-coming talent in the art world who was well on her way to building a prosperous career — until marriage and children put all that on hold. As you might expect, she held some resentments about what could have been, but she kept them to herself (and from her husband) to avoid strife. Later, when Ricky from The Barbershop playboy Reed Broderick (Michael Ealy) approaches Vivian and asks her to bless his art gallery with her work, it's heavily implied that he is attracted to her and that an affair could be imminent.

Philip Banks even makes a surprise appearance in San Diego — where Vivian accompanies Broderick for a strictly platonic business trip — thinking that he's swooping in to save her from making a mistake that could tear their marriage apart. She's upset at first, and the two then sit down to have some real talk with a side of healthy communication. But they work things out. Their relationship is now stable enough that Vivian feels confident approaching Broderick again and partnering with him to help discover new artistic talent. Her intentions are strictly business, of course. But will Broderick's intentions stay equally professional in Season 2? It looks like we'll have to wait to find out.

Uncle Phil makes some hard choices this season

Philip had to make a lot of tough choices this season, starting with the consequential decision to pull some legal strings — and compromise his ethics — to keep Will out of jail and out of trouble. That decision ends up backfiring on him when the opponent he's running against for district attorney finds out and threatens to release the information to the public. To protect his reputation — and more importantly, his family, Will included — Phil drops out of the race and encourages voters to support the opponent who tried to blackmail him instead. It was a huge sacrifice for Phil to make, especially given all of the other great lengths he went to earlier in the season to make himself electable. But Philip is a family man first and foremost, and he lives up to his principles in that regard.

This is why his other hard choice in Season 1 is such a difficult one: the decision to let Geoffrey (Jimmy Akingbola) go. When Will pleads with Geoffrey to help him learn the truth about his dad, and when Geoffrey does so in direct violation of Philip's wishes, the two men end up having a very difficult discussion. As emotionally muted as their words are, their facial expressions and the heaviness in their voices all reveal how truly heartbreaking it is for them to part ways.

But is this really the end for Geoffrey? After all, his character was such an integral part of the original series. It's hard to imagine they'd get rid of him so quickly — especially since the grounds for his dismissal eventually get resolved (more on that in a bit).

Hilary's struggle for fame and independence gets a happy ending ... for now

For anyone under the age of 30 who is even remotely savvy with social media, Hilary's is a highly relatable story; she's the daughter of rich boomer parents who wants to use modern-day technology to forge her own path and pursue her dreams, but her parents just don't understand. Her mom and dad think it's time to push her out of the nest and make her survive on her own, tough-love style — despite seemingly never having gone to great lengths before to teach her any survival skills. Most people would be thrown through quite a loop if they had the rug pulled out from under them like that. But not Hilary.

She's actually quite successful overall, despite hitting a major snag in the beginning. After landing a spot in a prestigious content house (yes, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, that's a very real thing), one of her roommates pulls rank and uploads a racy video of her for clicks and profit. Although she acknowledges that there's nothing wrong with that, she's conflicted because that's not the branding she wants for herself — but she can't get the content removed without getting sued.

So what does she do? She makes friends with super-influencer and future business partner Ivy (Karrueche Tran), and convinces the young woman to buy out the content house along with Hilary's old contract. If everything goes according to plan, she'll be able to get the video taken down without legal repercussions. But will everything go according to plan? Or will Murphy's Law be waiting in the wings of Season 2 to wreak havoc on Hilary's life once again?

Will's dad showing up ends in a (literal) cliffhanger

So here's the deal with Lou (Marlon Wayans), Will's biological father. When he and Will's mother Viola (April Parker Jones) were still together, Vy put pressure on him to make more money and be a better provider for her and their son, in part because she was envious of her sister Vivian marrying a rich Bel-Air lawyer. Lou cracked under the pressure and turned to a life of crime and easy money, which landed him in jail for 13 years. Instead of taking responsibility for his bad choices, he blames everyone else, including Will's mother, which causes a huge fight between father and son. Will claims he never wants to see him again. The young man also packs his bags to leave Bel-Air forever, feeling betrayed by his uncle, aunt, father, and mom for actively keeping the truth hidden from him his whole life.

Carlton, who started out as Will's biggest adversary, becomes distraught at the idea of living in a world where the love and support Will has shown him no longer exists. He secretly slips some cash into his pocket before he leaves, then begs Lisa (Simone Joy Jones) for help finding Will. In the interim, the audience gets to see a beautiful story-comes-full-circle moment between Will and Jazz (Jordan L. Jones) back on the cliff where the two young men had a heart-to-heart at the beginning of the season. They again drop one of the most iconic lines of both series — about forgetting who you are, and where you came from — while he's silent, manly tears roll down Will's cheeks. You can see the gears turning in his head and the pain on his face as he tries to decide what to do next.

Wait a minute ... what does Lisa need to talk to Will about?!

In the beginning of the finale, Will is trying to resolve things with Lisa after her father lets his big secret slip. She's (understandably) upset because instead of trusting her the way she trusted him, he lied to her when he really didn't have to. She seems firm in her resolve that the relationship is over, but Will can't walk away and let things be done without letting her know that he's in love with her. When Lisa's resolve breaks, she drops a line that is so deceptively simple that most viewers may mistake it as a bit of throwaway dialogue: "You should know that I — we'll talk tomorrow."

Sadly, that tomorrow never comes because Will accidentally stands her up after his dad makes his unscheduled visit. But will that tomorrow come in Season 2? In case you've never seen a Tyler Perry sitcom or any other piece of entertainment which capitalizes on the "we'll talk about this later" trope, it seems unlikely that this thing Will should know is unimportant. And there's a context clue from earlier in the conversation which hints at what that thing might be. It's the part where Lisa talks about how she trusted him enough for them to be intimate, but she describes the experience in a flat tone of voice, rolls her eyes, and clearly has a look of regret on her face.

Granted, this is pure speculation, but is Lisa pregnant? If so, that could have some major implications for the show, not the least of which is setting "Bel-Air" apart as its own separate and distinct series from the source material. But we won't know for sure until next season.