“Bel-Air” showrunner and executive producer Carla Banks-Waddles says the show’s writers got the messages loud and clear from fans and the cast about what they’d like to see for Season 2 – and those ideas are being weighed and considered.
Peacock’s most-watched original series is back with a fresh new season, and Banks-Waddles says a lot of the storylines in Season 2 were a mix of writers’ ideas and what fans reacted to from Season 1.
“I think it was a combination of knowing the conversations we were having in Season 1,” Banks-Waddles told TheWrap. “[Writers] were like, ‘Oh, maybe that’s something to look harder at. What’s that storyline?’ People really loved Jazz and Hillary in Season 1. What is Uncle Phil doing now that he quit the D.A. race in Season 1? What was he doing before he did that? Just being able to organically look at everybody’s story, and what’s interesting to tell them about the new season.”
The series stars Jabari Banks, who plays Will; Coco Jones, who plays Hillary Banks; Olly Sholotan, who plays Carlton; Akira Akbar, who plays Ashley Banks; Cassandra Freeman, who plays Vivian Banks and Adrian Holmes, who plays Philip Banks. And while there will be new themes, the cast also shared their ideas for their characters with the show’s writers in hopes that some subjects from the first season will be more deeply explored.
“I feel like this is such a generous, giving cast. They have such thoughtful ideas about their characters, about their storylines, about how they relate to other characters within the show. I love those conversations, and we bring those conversations definitely back into the writers’ room,” Banks-Waddles said.
“We find a lot of it, in a good way, aligns with things we’re already talking about because we have so many conversations, deep conversations— every character and their journey. Hearing from them about how they feel and how it aligns with what we’re already planning is great.”
One storyline in particular fans can expect to see more of is Carlton’s journey with drug use and his mental health, an idea Sholotan pitched.
“Olly was very vocal about Carlton and his journey in Season 1. He was such a reckless character with drugs, panic attacks, anxiety,” Banks-Waddles said. “He definitely felt that in Season 2, he didn’t want to let it go. It’s something that you don’t just get over that easily. It’s a conversation we need to have. What’s the reality of a kid who is struggling with that? What’s he struggling with? Is he self-medicating with these other drugs, and how do we really take that story and make it feel real and play it out through the end and not just drop it?”
Banks-Waddles went on to say that Sholotan was on board with that direction. “We had a lot of conversations with him about that too because it’s an important conversation. Black kids and mental health, and not just wanting to gloss over it.”
“Bel-Air” Season 2 premiered Feb. 23 on Peacock, with new episodes streaming Thursdays.