A couple of episodes into the second season of Bel Air, and the most interesting character at the moment is Carlton. It’s not even close really.
We’ve always known that Will was going to be Will. There wouldn’t be a show without our main protagonist being a disruptor in such a sterile high class environment. We wouldn’t even have a legacy show like our beloved “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” without someone we can root for who is going to give us a reason to be here by disturbing the status quo.
But what Bel Air has done with Carlton is something we can’t stop watching right now.
First, let’s give Olly Sholotan his flowers. He is absolutely acting his tail off and did so during the first season as well. This ain’t your daddy’s Carlton, doing the “It’s not unusual” dance and being a mark for all of Will’s jokes.
But even more so than the jealous, coked-up, Carlton we got last year, this season we’ve got someone who is trying to be better. Trying to be a better ambassador for his culture. And doing his best to just be a better person that can get what he wants without having to sell anyone out.
This week, we had Carlton trying to ween off of his meds while also leading a protest of his fellow black students that don’t fully trust him yet. They were right not to. Carlton would at first try to cut a deal with the faculty that would mute an effort to bring back a wrongfully terminated teacher, before recommitting to the effort, only to fail because of a panic attack when the moment mattered most. Will would end up carrying the protest across the goal line.
It was solid television.
Carlton could sell out. He could put his head down. Go back on his meds. Get into Princeton and probably be very successful. But this young man wants to be better and wants to be loved. And that’s what makes his struggle so compelling.
I’ll see you next time.
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