Everyone remembers The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. It was a staple of TV in the early-to-mid 1990s, introduced rapper-turned-actor Will Smith to a broad audience, and helped push hip-hop culture into the mainstream. Today, the program is viewed as a classic TV show and still has legions of fans around the world. Yet there is a lot of drama that went on behind the scenes during the show’s run on NBC from 1990 to 1996. Here are 10 things you likely didn’t know about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
10. It Was Almost Cancelled Before Being Saved by Local TV Stations
Many people assume The Fresh Prince was always a massive hit, but the show was actually basically cancelled after its fourth season — it’s actually the first television series to have ever been brought back from cancellation by pleas from television station managers, of all people. The show aired on NBC on Monday nights from 1990-1994 and was reasonably popular. However at the end of the fourth season, NBC wanted to pull the plug on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, as the new episodes were getting an average mediocre 8.6 rating, but the reruns were drawing a 7.4. The network figured there was more money to be made in syndicated reruns of the show rather than spending money to produce new episodes. However, the managers of the local NBA affiliates pleaded to save the Fresh Prince. Apparently they thought the program could become one of those super successful shows where people religiously watch their favorite episodes. To avoid over-saturating viewers the episodes they already had (about a hundred at the time), the station managers agreed to buy the fifth and sixth seasons at a greatly inflated price (adding fifty more shows to their respective libraries, and helping avoid burning out the audiences). NBC acquiesced and produced a fifth and sixth season of the TV show.