The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is an award winning American television sitcom that originally aired on NBC from September 10, 1990, to May 20, 1996. The show starred Will Smith as a street-smart teenager from West Philadelphia who is sent to live with his wealthy relatives in a Bel-Air mansion. His lifestyle often clashes with that of his relatives there. 148 episodes were produced over six seasons.
William "Will" Smith
William "Will" Smith (played by Will Smith) was born on July 3, 1973 in West Philadelphia. He often has disagreements with his cousin Carlton, whom he sees as not quite "black." Despite their differences, Will grows extremely close to the Banks family, even turning down his mother when she offers to let him move back in with her again in Philly. At the conclusion of the story's run, he remains in Los Angeles to finish up his last year of college.
Carlton Banks (played by Alfonso Ribeiro), born August 4, 1974, is Will's pedantic and preppy cousin. Carlton is a firmly conservative Republican, and proves both friend and foe for Will. Although Carlton and Will often trade insults, Carlton obviously cares about Will by referring to him as "the brother I've always wanted." His role model is talk show host Bryant Gumbel, and his favorite singer is Tom Jones. His favorite actor is William Shatner, whom he annoys by making lame Star Trek jokes. Carlton also idolizes Macaulay Culkin, whom he once dressed up as for Halloween.
Hilary Violet Banks (played by Karyn Parsons), born 1970, is Will's attractive, but dull-witted, eldest cousin, known for her notable lack of intelligence, her pretentious attitude, for being "spoiled", and her dependence on Geoffrey. In earlier seasons, Hilary's snobbishness is emphasized, as well as her shallow trendy environmental activism. During this time, she often claimed to hobnob with celebrities and loves being mistaken by people for Whitney Houston. Later on, Hilary is written as a self-centered airhead; she looks down on Will's upbringing and is obsessed with shopping and money. However, despite her apparent shallow personality, she has a strong sense of integrity and shows obvious affection to her family members.
Ashley Banks (played by Tatyana M. Ali), born April 29, 1979, is Will's younger cousin. Ashley was Vivian's baby, and always loved being with her mommy. Philip was always trying to control Ashley's life so she didn't become anything like regular teenage girls. Will's devil-may-care approach to life is an exciting alternative, which makes her generally more sympathetic and understanding towards him than other members of the Banks family. It seems that by spending time with Will, Ashley often acts rebelliously as she gets older, for which her father becomes very angry at Will. In the episode "Father Knows Best", Ashley lies and drops out of her private school and goes into a public school. Ashley matures much in the series; she is a one-hit wonder with her brief singing career and strives to become a fashion model.