About Christmas TV History

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air Christmas (1990)

It's Black History Month again.  I enjoy celebrating BHM on my blog because there are so many excellent Christmas episodes, specials, and TV movies with exceptional African-American cast members.  There are also many outstanding or touching Christmas TV story lines aimed at black audiences.  In the upcoming month, I'll highlight a few of my favorites.

The first season Christmas episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air touches on a common theme --how does one find the holiday spirit?  In "Deck the Halls" from 1990, Will is frustrated by how his wealthy cousins celebrate the holiday.  Will sees that Carlton is concerned only with his glee club's ski trip, Hilary is busy sending gifts to celebrities, Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian are occupied with the office Christmas party, and young Ashley has no holiday traditions that she's looking forward to at all.

Will and Ashley (left) are not impressed with the trendy decorations--a Caribbean Christmas Tree--as envisioned by the expensive Beverly Hills decorators.

Will takes it upon himself to help bring the Christmas spirit to the Banks family.  Aunt Vivian suggests that Will can help the company hired to decorate the Banks' home for them.  But at the shop in Beverly Hills, Will decides to abandon those plans all together--and take over all the decorating of the Banks' home.

What will the neighbors think?

Back in Philadelphia, Will is used to lots of bright, flashing lights, plastic blow-mold figures in the yard, and displays with Santa and his reindeer.  Indoors, the living room and hallways are strung up with tinsel, multi-colored lights, and more plastic decorations and ornaments.  While Will, Ashley, and their accomplice, the butler Geoffrey, are proud of their holiday handiwork, the others are surprised by the garish display.

Will was just trying to bring a little of the holiday spirit that he knows from Philly to his young cousin Ashley.

Immediately, the phone begins to ring with complaints from their Bel-Air neighbors.  Soon, the snobby neighbors are in living room demanding that the decorations be taken down. 

The condescending residents gather at the Banks home to explain that this holiday display is unwelcome in their neighborhood.

The Banks' Bel-Air neighbor, the World Heavy-Weight Champion boxer Evander Holyfield (right), comes over to voice his misgivings about the excessive Christmas decorations.

Uncle Phil eventually understands that Will's heart was in the right place and is hoping to negotiate a compromise with all the angry neighbors.  However, when a group of children carolers come to the door, drawn to this particular house because of the festive decorations--everyone agrees that maybe they've taken stylish decorating too seriously. 

The strangers at the door remind everyone that the Christmas is for children--and the child in all of us.

Finding the Christmas spirit, everyone gathers around the TV to watch their favorite Christmas commercials!  I guess the moral of this story is that we should look for the Christmas spirit wherever we can find it.  I agree. 

The Bel-Air residents gather around the TV to watch their favorite Christmas commercials.

Excessive or tasteless Christmas decorations have become a popular topic within sitcom Christmas episodes.  Off the top of my head, I know Roseanne and Home Improvement have also touched on a similar story line.  Can you think of others?

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