Welcome back to the TV Boyfriend Smackdown! We pit two (or three) of television’s most eligible (and fictional) bachelors against one another, and discuss their merits with regard to three major categories: attractiveness, personality, and potential for capital-D Drama. Based on our spirited debate, we’ll declare a winner, but fear not: you’ll have a chance to weigh in as well.
This week, we’re taking a look at the freshest cousins and best frenemies in Bel-Air, Will Smith and Carlton Banks. And it goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that Jazz comes as a package deal with Will. Beware of spoilers here — if we’re going to judge thoroughly, we’re going to judge on everything that’s happened so far and we can’t be held responsible for your inability to Hulu or Netflix in a timely manner. Plus, this show is so-o-o over. Let the smackdown begin!
Lindsay's Take: West Philadelphia born and raised, Will was plucked from his childhood home to live with his auntie and uncle in Bel-Air. But would he make a good boyfriend?
- Attractiveness: Um, of course Will Smith was attractive. Duh. He wore a lot of overalls, but it was the 90s, so I guess I’ll forgive that. And a lot of neon. But, like I said, it was the time. He was fresh to death for 1994. When Will was around, you couldn’t help but smile.
- Personality: Will was so much fun! He was a little immature at the beginning of the series, but there was a lot of depth to him as he grew up. Remember how devastated he was when his father kept jerking him around (gets me every time)? So sad. Anyway, Will’s intelligence paired with his exuberance made him a real catch.
- Possible Drama: Beginning of the series Will? Full of drama: He made rash decisions, he was crappy to the ladies, etc. End of the series Will: No drama at all. He really came into his own, and it was really fun to watch.
- Attractiveness: To clear up any confusion, we’re talking about Will Smith in the past tense because the show — and therefore the character’s arc — is over. Obviously, Will Smith the human being is still around. Anyway, Will Smith, the character, was freakin’ cute. Sure, his ears stuck out goofily, but his style was sweet (for the time) and he just had an...exuberance, a joie de vivre about him that always makes a guy more attractive.
- Personality: See about re: joie de vivre. Will was always up for an adventure (or a scheme), and yeah, those schemes could veer into immature territory sometimes. He was also a relentless Casanova, aka womanizer, and could be a bit full of himself. On the flip side of that, he was pretty smooth and super confident (and secretly really smart). And confidence is key, Cohen. Also, Will was really a softy inside — he grew up over the course of the series and truly grew to love and respect his family.
- Possible Drama: Well, Will could be kind of a douche to the ladies, and kind of shallow (remember when he wouldn’t go to the dance with Queen Latifah because she wasn’t twig-thin?), but he grew out of that by the series’ end. He also grew out of picking fights for ego’s sake. So if we’re talking end-of-show Will, there’s not a lot of drama potential. Early days Will had a lot of growing up to do, though.
Jess' Take: The Carlton dance is one that will live forever in our memories and the pop culture dance canon. But how would Carlton, dance moves and all, rate as a boyfriend?
- Attractiveness: Carlton was cute, though a little too clean-cut and preppy for my tastes. He was also — and I don’t think this would actually bother me personally, but it bears mentioning — on the shorter side, height-wise. All in all, Carlton was attractive, but I have to give the edge to Will on this one.
- Personality: Carlton could be entitled, a suck-up, and kind of lame — especially standing next to his cooler cousin Will. But he was super smart and pretty damn confident considering all the teasing he faced at the hands of Will (and other family members), and that’s pretty cool. Though let’s not forget his very conservative political leanings...
- Possible Drama: There’s not a lot of drama potential with Carlton, but there’s the potential he might annoy you to death. Or just make you listen to Tom Jones over and over until your ears bleed. He was a good guy at his core, but just a bit too uptight. And...annoying.
- Attractiveness: Carlton is cute in a nerdy kind of way, like Jess said. But Will is just more my type: I’ve never been into the sweater vest guy like Carlton. Too many collars, not enough sneakers.
- Personality: Ugh, Carlton! He could be so cool, and then he would bust out something so lame and cheesy that it would make me hate him — I’m not even talking about the Carlton dance. I can get down with that. He’s kind and smart, but our senses of humor (and, as Jess said, political leanings) totes would not mesh.
- Possible Drama: Uptight, as Jess said. I would really want Carlton to loosen up. Wear less vests, maybe? A pair of jeans? Throw away those chinos, guy. But yeah, not much penchant for drama here. Carlton’s a stable dude.
Winner: Will “The Fresh Prince” Smith
The Fresh Prince takes the trophy on this one. Sorry, Carlton, ol’ pal. But Will was just cooler, cuter, and more fun...plus, you’d get to hang out with Jazz as a sidekick.
Disagree with our outcome? Well, you have a say, too! Just vote for your preferred winner in this round of the TV Boyfriend Smackdown below, and we’ll see you in two weeks for our next match-up!