Why The Original Aunt Viv From 'Fresh Prince' Is A Cult Hero
Actress Janet Hubert, better known as the original Aunt Vivian on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," crossed the line this week.
The 61-year-old "blacktress" wrote on her Facebook page,
I know the media hoe Alphonso Ribero has posted his so called reunion photo. Folks keep telling me about it. He was always the a– wipe for Will. There will never be a true reunion of the Fresh Prince. I have no interest in seeing any of these people on that kind of level.
Yikes. Clearly, Aunt Viv was buggin' a little bit.
Now, all we need to do is find somebody to tell her that, because it for damn well sure isn't about to be me, and it's probably not going to be any other true "Fresh Prince" fan, either.
In fact, if I had to guess, everyone who loved the show probably had a reaction to Hubert's comment... similar to that time Will and Uncle Phil acknowledged an elephant in the room, but only through gritted teeth.
Yup, that's the one.
The bottom line is, everyone's going to have to let this one slide, particularly because this is Aunt Viv we're talking about (the OG).
If you know anything about the character Hubert played, and how closely she resembles that character in real life, you know she isn't about to listen to anyone who tells her to calm down. Exhibit A:
There's a reason Hubert is know as "the real one."
She's granted a respect and reverence for a combination of factors that make her a cult hero beyond reproach, particularly to her black audience.
Not only is she the first matriarch on what is hands-down the most iconic black sitcom of the 90s, but there's also a perception of Hubert that views her as a victim of an issue that may affect other black actresses in Hollywood: colorism.
That perception is owed to her removal from the show. Hubert, an extremely talented, outspoken actress, was replaced by Daphne Reid, who portrayed a more passive role, and just so happened to have lighter skin.
Plus, it doesn't help that there are rumors this happened after Hubert got pregnant (and reportedly went against her contract).
None of my favorite "Fresh Prince" scenes revolve around Daphne Reid's Aunt Viv.
But, ask me to choose OG Aunt Viv's best scene, and the choice would be SO easy:
In this sense, Hubert is a martyr.
Yeah, there are other examples of dark-skinned actresses being randomly replaced by lighter ones out of nowhere (Claire Kyle from "My Wife and Kids" comes to mind), but Aunt Viv is the most notable example in my book.
To be fair, the inside story of how Hubert was dropped from the show indicated the change was more about feuding than anything else.
I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show because I know she is going to dog me in the press. She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She's mad now but she's been mad all along. She said once, I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.' No matter what, to her I'm just the Antichrist.
And then there's Alfonso Ribeiro, who had this to say about Hubert back in 2009,
Long story short, and there were days when we were all on the set and [Hubert] would literally go off on people and they got to a point by the time the second season came around where we're like, 'This is unacceptable.'
Their side of the story, however, is far from being the most important factor that shaped how the OG Aunt Viv is viewed.
Regardless of the shade of her skin, or the question of whether that factored into how she was viewed, many "Fresh Prince" fans believe the show was not the same after replacing Hubert.
So, in my opinion, Janet Hubert will always be the more revered Aunt Viv, and it will take more than a few cheap shots at Carlton Banks to change that.