DAR Roundtable: The Fresh Prince of Bel Air vs Martin

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air
6 Seasons, 148 Episodes


5 Seasons, 132 Episodes

This might be the most debated topic in the history of television amongst black sitcoms. Two of the best shows ever, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Martin, are often compared and debated over. Truthfully, it all comes down to your preference and style of humor to determine which you like better. Martin was more adult centered humor, while Fresh Prince seemed to aim for the more family centered humor, while still pushing boundaries at times. Both shows are iconic, but which was better? Today, we gathered up the team to discuss this and the answers, as always, varied. Let's get it going...

Allow me to kick off the roundtable like this, fellas:

I have 3 words : Got. The. Draws.

Martin is the best show of all time. Hands down. Enough said. Fresh Prince is great, but nothing beats Martin.

Tough one. Really tough one. If I HAD to choose one, I'd pick Fresh Prince. Mainly because of the youthful spirit of the show, and to be honest I can relate to Will's character in the sense that he was the black sheep of the Banks family. I feel that EVERYBODY has an "Uncle Phil" type of figure in their life. It's a show that has theme and elements like that and they really resonate with me. Of course the theme song is more legendary than Martin, even a person who's never watched Fresh Prince knows that track. The show also produced a legendary running gag in the Carlton Dance. Carlton in general is a better character than Tommy and Cole. Although Fresh Prince never had that magical back and forth chemistry that Martin and Pam had, or even the love story between Martin and Gina, it still stands strong. It was also the theme of family that I really loved and could relate to. You saw this family be dysfunctional while also growing and learning to love each other. By the time "I, Done"(series finale) rolled around you didn't want to see the family go their separate ways, but it's just a reminder that nothing great lasts forever and times change. I see the show probably deeper than what it is, but maybe that's why I prefer it over Martin.

Both series are classics. Truthfully, though? Neither has aged as well as expected, probably because of their topical nature. At times, it's like watching Good Times as a Gen Xer in 2000. They're both classics for what they are, but, maybe because I grew up with them both, I have a hard time watching them now and being like "well, damn. These shows hold up better than anything out now."

Sure, we got timeless quotes and memes from both. The Carlton dance and Shenaenae still live to this day. But, I don't know. I can't choose either series. Sorry. They're both good for what they are/were, but neither really edges the other for me.

I'm gonna have to go out on a limb here and say that Martin is better than Fresh Prince. I know Fresh Prince is better fleshed out, but that's only because it was mainly a coming of age story. While FP was a great show and very relatable, it was also painfully corny at times and the show hasn't aged that well to me. But Martin? Martin is a show that kept me entertained all throughout. Its goal was just straight comedy....and boy did it ever achieve that so well. The numerous supporting characters (Jerome and BruhMan are my personal favorites) very much boosted its appeal as well. So again, Fresh Prince is still a classic show but I gotta give it to Martin.

Martin and the Fresh Prince are probably the top 2 sitcoms of the 90s, and that's saying a lot. The Fresh Prince took familiar themes seen in past TV shows(the big house, the server with an attitude etc), but put a new spin on it. Martin was different in a sense that it didn't focus on a family theme. Instead, it revolved around problems and scenarios that seemed a little bit more real and closer to home. To me, Martin is the better show.
The Fresh Prince was always hilarious. That show had a way of making ANYTHING funny, even the deaths(think Hillary's boyfriend and the snapped bungy coard or Sherman Hemsley's character having that heart attack during the election). The show pulled off some serious moments like no other as well, as everyone remembers the episode where Will's dad re-entered his life. That being said, Martin just delivered harder laughs. Nothing in The Fresh Prince kills me like Gina getting her head caught in that headboard or Martin getting his ass whooped by Tommy Hearns. Aside from the over the top and downright goofy physical comedy, Martin dealt with important issues as well. Any adult can appreciate the relationship that Martin and Gina had, no matter what came up(I would've fucked Ms. Trinidad without hesitation btw) and episodes like Martin almost becoming a father kept the show grounded. Growing up, I probably watched the Fresh Prince more than Martin, but as an adult the choice is clear. Either way, you can't go wrong with these two, and I only wish today's TV would produce something that came remotely close to that greatness.

These are two of my all time favorite shows. Martin, in my opinion, is the greatest show of all time and I would choose it over Fresh Prince definitely. Fresh Prince however wad definitely legendary and it definitely would be my 2nd favorite black sitcom behind Martin. Carlton, Ashley, Hillary, Uncle Phil, and Jeffrey all provided great secondary roles on the show(as did darkskin Vivian), but the comedic chemistry of Martin, Gina, Tommy, Cole, and Pam together is unbeatable.

I think Speed is out of his mind by saying neither show holds up well, as I can watch Martin faithfully as if its a new show still. Knowing Speed, he just put that opinion on here just to be different, but both shows hold up quite well to me. I remember the classic Fresh Prince episode with Tisha Campbell, who played Gina on Martin of course, where Will gets stuck with her and finds out she isn't all that she seemed. That episode and many others of Fresh Prince never get old, but Martin is just timeless. From Bruhman to Jerome to Otis, from Martin going to court, to his DMV blues, to him getting hustled by a female pool shark, etc, etc... Martin provided the laughs and entertainment better than any show in the history of television to me. I have to choose Martin.

What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments below.



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