With Will Smith atop the box office in a summer blockbuster again in Suicide Squad, it’s almost hard to remember that he started as a rapper. Will Smith’s “Fresh Prince” persona was given a sitcom by NBC in 1990 in which he essentially played himself, taken in by rich relatives in Bel-Air, CA, after he started getting into trouble living with his mother in Philadelphia. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air exploded into popularity because Will Smith wasn’t just a rapper who could act a little, he was and remains a charisma bomb capable of both amazing comic timing and tear-jerking dramatic depths.
Nowhere in the series is this more on display during the fourth season, when Will’s absentee father (played by the great Ben Vereen) shows up suddenly in Will’s life after having missed most of it. Will gets excited, bonds with his father who wants to take him on a trip, all the while under the skeptical gaze of his uncle (the late James Avery). Sure enough, Will’s father tries to make an unnoticed exit again, but this time he faces the wrath of Uncle Phil and his son, who after he leaves gives one of the best, most heartbreaking rants in TV history.