Bel-Air Season 2 Shines a Light on Mental Health
May 04, 2023
Taking care of your mental health is a topic of growing emphasis, and one that is historically underrepresented in media. When creating Season 2 of Peacock’s Bel-Air, showrunner Carla Banks-Waddles was mindful to prominently feature the importance of caring for one’s mental health.
When one of the show’s main characters, Carlton, receives professional care, Bel-Air seeks to normalize therapy, which is often stigmatized in Black communities. Banks-Waddles explained, “Just like we take care of the health of our bodies and we see characters exercising, eating healthy or even just making doctor appointments, it’s important to also see characters tending to their mental well-being, whatever it looks like. It could even be a passive comment of a character just referring to something that his/her therapist said. Seeing characters and families actively talking about it and prioritizing it only helps normalize it even more.”
Carlton’s character is one of several in the show who are seen working to improve their mental health. “Will’s storyline is very much about a young man grappling emotionally with the absence of a father in his life… Verbalizing pain and sharing it in a safe space with people who care about you, instead of just internalizing those feelings, is also modeling healthy examples of taking care of one’s mental health.”
When asked which other characters on television she believes explore mental health in a positive and unique way, she referenced Sterling K. Brown’s character Randall, from NBC’s This is Us. “That was a good example of ‘check on your strong friends,’” she said.
Bel-Air provides professional mental health resources to their team as well. “We have a psych consultant to help us creatively and he’s available as a resource to anyone in the production if needed.”
Bel-Air is one of many NBCUniversal titles spotlighting this important topic. In NBC’s Lopez vs Lopez, comedian George Lopez plays a father struggling to understand the nuances of his daughter’s mental health, from both a cultural and generational perspective. With the PSA series The More You Know, journalists Savannah Sellers and Kate Snow discuss how the way we talk about mental health is evolving. And in DreamWorks’ Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, an unexpected moment shows viewers of all ages what a panic attack can feel like, and how therapy dogs can be one way to relieve anxiety.
Bel-Air Season 2 is streaming now on Peacock, and has been renewed for Season 3.