Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is one of those shows that immediately makes me think of my childhood. I’ve watched every single episode, and I can recite some of the lines. Plus, I’ve memorized Will Smith’s drum juke, surely keeping other types of knowledge out my brain. It’s fine. It’s allowed.
My (and a lot of other’s) major complaint with the show is about the abrupt character switch that happened. For the first three seasons, Will’s Aunt Viv was played by the beautiful Janet Hubert. Then ALL OF A SUDDEN, we turned on the TV and Uncle Phil’s wife was about 8.5 shades lighter, and played by the gorgeous Daphne Reid. I ain’t got nothing against Mrs. Reid. I’m sure she’s a nice lady but I was immediately not here for this change.
How you gon have a Dark AND Light Skinned friend looking like Aunt Viv??? Who did it? Who was in charge? WHY??? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I didn’t dislike her because she was light skinned. Nawl. It was more than that. Her being wayyy lighter just felt like another way the producers/directors/Will Smith stopped giving a damb about that character.
I was not pleased with the switch. And a lot of it has to do with the way they wrote the character after Janet left. They took out all relevance for Aunt Viv being in that family. She just became thrown to the side and honestly, they coulda done without her if they were gonna make her all pointless. They coulda given her a job that forced her to move to Fiji or something and just wrote her out.
We loved Aunt Viv 1.0, also known as Dark Aunt Viv. She was the truth. Fierce. Strong. FAHN. We loved her FIERCELY. And they say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. They fixed it and broke it!
20 years later, I still watch scenes with Brand New Viv (e’em though she was on half of the shows) while side-eyeing my TV. I am not, nor have I ever, here for Aunt Viv 2.0. And I have reasons. Many of them.
1. Light Aunt Viv had no personality. She was so doggone boring. I don’t ever remember anything she said nor any important scenes she was in. And she had no chemistry with the rest of the cast. When she was on-screen, she was so forgettable. I get that she came on after everyone had already formed bonds but lawd! Did they have to make her scenes so forgettable? Did the writers make a pact to just stop trying with her character? Sheesh. Yawn-fest.
2. Aunt Viv 2.0 dressed all matronly. Like a Golden Girl reject. Like she was Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy and Rose’s next door neighbor we never saw. Starter Aunt Viv had some flare to her ALPHETS! She was always in some ornate suit with gold buttons and dope shoes. Or she’d have some fabric draped in the same pattern as her curl and set.
YES, AUNT VIV 1.0! You better dress like AUTHORITY AND REGAL. Meanwhile, they just put Aunt Viv 2.0 in floral suits and sensible shoes. Nawl.
3. Aunt Viv 1.0 taught us to behave. And lessons. I remember many episodes where Original Viv would snatch Will and the other kids’ wigs into behaving after they do something ridiculous. She would let them HAVE IT and I’d be at home feeling scolded talmbout “Yes ma’am” after the scenes and feeling like I was on punishment myself. Did I act right the next day? I surely did. She let that Philly come through sometimes and I loved it! And then when she subbed for Will’s history class and dropped some Black history knowledge. I LIVED! She sang “Wade in the Water” and I was inspired. In fact, I didn’t e’em know that song until I saw that episode! Chile, you better TEACH ME BOUT THE ANCESTORS!
Meanwhile, all New Viv did was teach us that… I’m still tryna figure that out. I’ma get back to you on that once I figure it out. Speaking of teaching…
4. Light Aunt Viv ain’t have no job. Dark Aunt Viv was a professor, and she was like if Claire Huxtable had a BFF who took in her nephew. She had business. Meanwhile, Aunt Viv 2.0 was basically Tommy from Martin in a better suit. Also, she wore suits but was never going anywhere. Strolling in the kitchen fully dressed day after day but with nowhere to be. Girl, I guess. They didn’t e’em attempt to give her anything to do besides NOT take care of Lil Nicky (another pointless character but that’s another post for another day).
5. Aunt Viv 1.0 DANCED FOR HER LIFE! Everyone remembers when she went to that ballet class in a baby pink leotard with a body that looked like YES GAWD. And then she proceeded to slay all the people half her age to “Everybody dance now” and snapped in their faces in Z-formation afterwards. Yes. For that alone she was QUEEN. You can watch the video HERE because I can’t embed it here. Wayment. I found someone’s recording of it on their TV. LOLLL.
Late Aunt Viv could NEVER.
Dark Aunt Viv was Real Housewives of Atlanta (but classy) to Light Aunt Viv’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (All Bougie Everything). I’m here for the former, not the latter.
No one is here for Aunt Viv 2.0, and if they are, they cannot be trusted. This is fact that cannot be argued. Dark Viv will always be the truth and any other is an impostor for which we will not give props. And that is all.
Aight so… y’all tell me. What made you side-eye Light Aunt Viv? Or are you one of the Benedict Arnolds who actually liked her?