Remember back in the neoned early 90s when Will Smith was The Fresh Prince, and Don Cheadle was Hilary's Boyfriend, and Tyra Banks hadn't yet learned how to smile with her eyes because her eyes were obscured by a giant oversized faux-rasta hat?
Those were the days. But then the bright hypercolor world got flip-turned upside down, and everything turned grey. It all started when The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air replaced the actress who played Aunt Viv with a different actress in the middle of the show's six year run—with no explanation. Remember how you were haunted by the fact that the Banks could address this woman, this imposter, as "Mom" or "Aunt Viv" as if the real Aunt Viv had never existed? Didn't they have eyes? Couldn't they see? Remember the gnawing suspicion that the Banks family, or possibly Geoffrey, had done something terrible to the real Aunt Viv and now they were all mugging and smiling their way through this sham, this cover-up? Remember whispering into the vents on top your television set, "They say that's Aunt Viv, but it's not. I know you're in there somewhere. I'll find you, Aunt Viv, I promise."?
No? Well, Janet Hubert, the original Aunt Viv remembers those dark days of sitcom chicanery—and, according to the following excerpt from her new memoir, Perfection Is Not A Sitcom Mom, they killed her.
My mind was going in a million places. OK, I thought, they will come back [with a salary offer]; this is how they do it. They always come back. I started into the kitchen where Rayna - my friend, housekeeper and nanny was. She was doing dishes as baby E was enjoying a swing. I knelt down, kissed his head, and waited for the next round of negotiations. They never came. The next time [my agent] Michael called he said, ‘They are going to recast your role.’ There was a beautiful stained glass window that I designed in the bedroom, and the windows were open, so my neighbors probably heard me scream. And that beautiful window probably has many cracks in it. Time of Death: approximately 3 pm. The real Vivian Banks was murdered.
Dear God, no. It's true! It's all true. Just look at Carlton's dance after season 3—there is a melancholy there, a pain. It's the grief that comes from losing a sitcom mom.