I've been thinking about this for a week or so now.
I had to go back and watch the whole thing over. Very little context is given, but my inner book critic is telling me that his mom just got sick of him and kicked him out, passing his wall-tagging ass off on some richy-rich relatives. She wasn't concerned for his safety. What mother sends their child from Philadelphia (at the age of like... 16? is that how old he was supposed to be?) to fucking Bel-Air?
I'm with Affleck on this one.
I get it. It's supposed to be your classic fish-out-of-water plot premise that somehow managed to last for a few years and is still etched into the hearts and minds of my fellow children of the 90's. It was ground-breaking, I guess. What other tv shows before it had shown a wealthy family of black people taking in a hoodie from off the streets of Philly, and were shown in a positive light? Sure, the whole family had that Uncle Tom-esque generic Oreo feeling about them, but at least on the surface they were good people. At the same time, you had other odd barriers being broken by Urkle on Family Matters (ever seen a Blerd before? I didn't think so) and having both shows being marketed to youth to show (hopefully) equality across the board.
What I have the problem with is the titular character in the first place. Maybe it's because I'm not a mother, but really, who just sends their kid off to the West coast? Just... sends him! "I begged and pleaded..." WTF? Moving sucks. Mom, why? Why did you send your Fresh Prince to Bel Air? You make no sense. Your logic is flawed.
To make peace with this, I like to think that maybe she had bigger dreams to chase so she sent her kid off. But why wait so long? He was clearly able to take care of himself, yet she didn't toss him out on the streets. She made sure he was taken care of, and well. Maybe she couldn't take care of him herself, but there we are getting back into dangerous stereotype territory. Maybe she was just sick of him. We can just go with that.
This bothers me more than it should. I am annoyed and sometimes even kept awake at night over the success and resulting lasting fame this thoroughly mediocre and ridiculous show basis has been given. I for one don't lament it's cancellation nor its star's slow decline into Scientology. But it's still annoying.