The problem with modern television and movie reboots

Here’s why I hate television and movie reboots, including revivals

On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that in a joint effort with his production company, Westbrook Studios, and Universal Television, Will Smith is moving forward with a reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the beloved sitcom, that catapulted him to fame in the mid-’80s and ’90s. Do we truly need reboots?

Quincy Jones and Benny Medina, who served as executive producers on the original show, will serve as executive producers on the reboot alongside Andy and Susan Borowitz, the original sitcom’s creators.

Also joining the team, as a writer, director, and co-executive producer is Morgan Cooper, whose fanmade trailer, that reimagines the classic sitcom as a gritty drama, and caught the attention of Smith last year, is the basis for the proposed reboot.

Interestingly, this news comes just days, after the release of the second teaser trailer, for the reboot of the Saved By The Bell revival, which will be released on NBC’s new streaming platform Peacock, although an official release date has not been set.

While I’m intrigued by the idea of a Fresh Prince reboot and will likely tune in to the new Saved By The Bell series, I have a problem with modern-day reboots.

Why a television or movie reboot changes what made the original great

A common concern whenever a new television or movie reboot is announced is that it won’t be able to capture the essence of the original. It’s a valid concern for the fans in a day-and-age where movie directors and television showrunners seem unconcerned with preserving the essence of their source material.

These days, it seems as though the trend is instead moving toward meta-fictional storytelling, where the rebooted series undergoes a tonal shift in an attempt to make a point about the original work.

In 2012, the 21 Jump Street film poked fun at the absurdity of the original series’s premise, and in 2017, the Baywatch film poked fun at the melodramatic tone of the Baywatch television series.

The Saved By The Bell revival seems to be following the same pattern with the main characters portrayed by Elizabeth Berkeley and Mario Lopez, essentially acting like caricatures of their former selves in the series’s teaser trailer in an attempt to parody the cheesiness of the original.

My problem is that by changing the tone of a series or rebooting a show with different actors, you’re essentially making a reboot only in name.

Saved By The Bell, although cheesy in retrospect, took itself seriously enough, and I fear that by parodying too many elements of the original series, it will be hard to get sucked back into the world of Zack Morris and the folks at Bayside High School.

If that’s the case, it begs the question, why does the reboot or any reboot that’s simply a meta-commentary on the source material exist? While a dramatic retelling of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air may allow the creators to broach sensitive topics that the original never did, is it necessary to tell that story under the umbrella of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when shows like black-ish, which strikes a perfect balance between comedy and drama, already exist?

In shifting the tone of reboots and casting new actors in the roles that we’ve come to know and love, you’re asking your audience to reunite with old friends that aren’t recognizable anymore. If that’s the case, however, isn’t it better to just say goodbye and go your separate ways?

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What do you think about movie and television reboots? Will you be watching Saved By The Bell or The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when they come out? Let us know in the comments.