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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Mistaken Identity,” Season 1, Episode 6 (1991)

by Phil Ethington

Will Smith (Will Smith) and Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro) arrive home after being released from jail. Carlton, raised in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air, believes that the Palm Springs Police “were just doing their job” by pulling them over and that it would’ve been avoided had they just “brought a map” and not gotten lost. Will and Uncle Phil (James Avery), the former having grown up in inner city Philadelphia and the latter during the Civil Rights Movement, explain otherwise. Smith believes that they were being targeted because they were black and driving a nice car and Phil noted that he had been repeatedly stopped by the police. This exchange is an example of the show’s play on the “fish out of water” culture-clash trope. Will and Phil’s statements also reflect the history of race and class in the US. It is also important to note that this episode aired on October 15, 1991, months before the LAPD’s beating of black motorist Rodney King

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Mistaken Identity,” Season 1, Episode 6 (1991)

by Phil Ethington

Will Smith (Will Smith) and Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro) arrive home after being released from jail. Carlton, raised in the wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel-Air, believes that the Palm Springs Police “were just doing their job” by pulling them over and that it would’ve been avoided had they just “brought a map” and not gotten lost. Will and Uncle Phil (James Avery), the former having grown up in inner city Philadelphia and the latter during the Civil Rights Movement, explain otherwise. Smith believes that they were being targeted because they were black and driving a nice car and Phil noted that he had been repeatedly stopped by the police. This exchange is an example of the show’s play on the “fish out of water” culture-clash trope. Will and Phil’s statements also reflect the history of race and class in the US. It is also important to note that this episode aired on October 15, 1991, months before the LAPD’s beating of black motorist Rodney King

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Mistaken Identity,” Season 1, Episode 6 (1990)

Will Smith (Will Smith) and Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro) arrive home after being released from jail.

from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Mistaken Identity,” Season 1, Episode 6 (1991) (1990)
Creator: Created by Andy Borowitz Susan Borowitz, Quincy Jones Productions (1990-1993)
Distributor: NBC
Posted by Phil Ethington
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