Bel-Air: Season 1/ Episode 7 “Payback’s a B*tch” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

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As Phil and Viv reveal what led to the cracks in their marriage, Will is trying to balance his relationships with Lisa and Carlton, and Hillary deals with the rise of “Thirsty Chef.”

Aired 3/10/2022
Network Peacock
Directed By Ava Berkofsky
Written By Carla Banks Waddles
Introduced This Episode
Aisha Nia Sondaya
John Daniel Kim


The Thirsty Chef – Kylo, Jazz, Hillary, Monica

Hillary as the Thirsty Chef

Kylo posts the video Hillary was making in her lingerie in the last episode without her consent. He even edits it to sexualize Hillary and focus on her breasts and pretty much anything that can be tantalizing. This doesn’t sit well with Hillary. With her being sex-positive, Monica tries to spin it to make Hillary see the positives to this, but with Kylo not even consulting Hillary, she wants to talk, and damn if he doesn’t dodge her calls all day.

But, later on, after some social media stalking, she finds where he is, and Jazz, who was hanging out at the Banks house with Hillary, comes along to confront Kylo. However, after people praising Hillary for owning her sexuality and Kylo presenting Victoria’s Secret reps to Hillary, and them talking about a $15,000 deal? She changes her mind.

This worries Jazz since he was very gung-ho on standing up for her and thought they were on the same page. But it seems money, and the idea she could eventually go back to what she was doing, has led Hillary to change her mind. Thus, Jazz started to change his mind about the girl he was making out with a few hours ago.

You Gave Me An Out Instead Of Support – Viv, Phil, Reid, Geoffrey, Steven

With donations starting to run dry, Steven advises Phil to begin using his own money, and Phil doesn’t even ask Viv about using their joint account. That action makes Viv feel undervalued and leads to her going to the San Diego Modern Art Fair alone. Which, thanks to his private investigator skills, Geoffrey finds out will also have Reid in attendance, and considering Reid’s history with artists he is fond of, while Phil trusts his wife, he doesn’t trust Reid all the more.

But, Phil deciding to “rescue” Viv from the big bad Reid doesn’t go over well. In fact, it leads to Viv doubling down on her relationship with Reid because he supports her career and even wants to help her. Phil, meanwhile, hasn’t always been the support she needs.

To get into details, the two decide to have an open and honest chat about where they are, and Viv says that a part of her resents Phil. Why? Well, around 15 years ago, instead of supporting and encouraging her work, truly showing he loved it as he says, he gave her an out. Now, in Phil’s defense, Viv was getting increasingly insecure, irritated, and overwhelmed just raising Hillary and Carlton, who likely was a baby at the time.

Vivian talking to Reid about a major opportunity for her career as a artist

So him taking on all the financial burden was seen as him supporting her, and he doesn’t apologize for providing an escape hatch that she jumped out of. This leaves them at a bit of an impasse that caused Viv to go see Reid and explore the opportunity of a Neeman Artists Fellowship, which would require Viv to go on the road.

A Complicated Relationship – Will, Lisa, Phil, Fred, Carlton, Connor, Aisha, John

Because Fred and Phil compete against one another, they ask Lisa and Will to limit or cut off interaction until after the election. Instead, those two decide to just sneak around and grow closer. But, despite consistently making out and Will defining their relationship, Carlton stays in the dark.

The reason goes beyond Will not wanting beef, but rather all Carlton is going through. Connor, at this point, has become insufferable, and Carlton can’t handle Will’s effect on his life paired with Connor’s microaggressions and him getting everyone to just smile, nod, and not say anything. In fact, while we haven’t seen Carlton get physical payback from the ass whooping Will gave him, Carlton does, at lacrosse practice, hit Conor in such a way that his wrist ends up broken.

That cathartic release has repercussions, though. It begins with Carlton realizing all of his schmoozing and knowing people’s birthdays doesn’t compensate for Connor’s sway over the school, if not just the clique Carlton aligned himself with. So to help his cousin, with who he is on good terms with, Will co-hosts a party while Phil and Viv are away.

John (Daniel Kim) trying to squash the beef between Connor and Carlton
John (Daniel Kim)

During the party, Connor does show up and tries to start trouble, and their teammate John does try to get them to squash their beef. But with Connor refusing to apologize for the racist and homophobic things he has said, he gets ostracized and plans his next move. Meanwhile, Lisa and Will are hooking up, sharing secrets, like Lisa’s actual first name is Beulah. But also talking about Carlton’s issues as one of the only Black kids at his school.

Now, let it be known, a member of Bel-Air’s BSU (Black Student Union) notes Carlton not appearing down or reaching out was part of him feeling like that. But as she others him due to his interest, you see why he has never ventured towards their direction. However, after he puts Connor in his place, it seems she may look at him a bit differently.

This makes the ending of the party unfortunate since Connor called the cops and them seeing a big house, and this Black kid claiming to be the owner, things escalated. Thankfully though, after having sex, Will and Lisa notice the police lights, and Lisa uses her father to get out of a bad situation. Though considering Fred didn’t know Lisa was at Will and Carlton’s party, and Carlton saw Lisa and Will walk into the foyer from upstairs? While one issue may have gotten resolved, a whole new one is about to become a major issue.

Things To Note

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Have Jazz and Hillary talked since seeing each other last?
  2. Did Will get mad that Jazz bailed on playing some tracks at his party, or did they talk before Jazz left with Hillary?
  3. While I get why Phil has Geoffrey around, where did he find Steven, and why did he hire him? Based on how Geoffrey is, Steven doesn’t seem like a guy Phil would interview and hire, but rather his network pushed him to think it is a good look.
  4. When Lisa learns the truth about why Will is in Bel-Air, will she make it a thing or be understanding?
  5. Did Carlton reject the Black students at Bel-Air Academy, or did someone from their group make him feel unwanted, as Aisha did, so he backed off?
  6. Assuming Hillary went to Bel-Air academy, did she leave any kind of legacy there? Also, how was her experience at Bel-Air Academy? Considering how she talks about her culture, was she part of the BSU?
  7. What was the breaking point 15 years ago that led Viv to take Phil on his offer to be a housewife? What led her to go from doing that to being an art professor?
  8. Will John evolve into Carlton’s new best friend?

What Could Happen Next

  1. More marital strife for Viv and Phil
  2. Carlton being the one who reveals Will lied to Lisa about why he is in Bel-Air
  3. Connor’s ways circulating around school and making him a pariah
  4. Probably seeing or hearing from people who live in Philly as a special event than something reoccurring
  5. Hillary not liking this path Kylo has sent her on since it forces her to realize she isn’t an influencer but the influenced.



So Many Black People Not Passing The Paperbag Test

So a little background: the paper bag test, for those who don’t know, is/was a discriminatory practice in which Black people, particularly women, were excluded if darker than a brown paper bag. As noted in Dr. Pilgrim’s article hosted on Ferris State University, the practice was done at the college level, and it is even spoken about in films like School Daze and Queen Latifah’s HBO movie Bessie.

Aisha (Nia Sondaya) giving Carlton props
Aisha (Nia Sondaya)

I’d even submit that the practice could still be prevalent in certain areas of entertainment. But Bel-Air clearly isn’t that kind of show. Nearly every notable character would fail that test, and the introduction of Aisha adds in another beautiful dark skin woman to the cast who you hope to see more of. Especially with it being possible that she could become Carlton’s love interest down the line.

Phil and Viv Airing Out Why Their Relationship Is In The Place It Is

Vivian has noted why there have been moments of contention between her and Phil in pockets. However, with them having a real conversation about how she feels and what’s going on, it not only gave us a full picture but seemed like an overdue conversation for them both. One that pieced together Vivian’s past comments made to Joan, or offhand, and allowed us to understand the gap between her being the up-and-coming artist to someone who is an art professor, somewhere, but mainly seen to us as a homemaker.

From what it appears, the same man Phil’s frat brothers make him out to be now, he was then. He focused mainly on his own success and wasn’t necessarily focused on the bigger picture. He wasn’t thinking about supporting Viv with the words she needed to hear but rather, as a lot of people, especially men do, decided to throw money at the issue. In this case, his money to end her being insecure and possibly frustrating him with venting about the difficulty of her work.

Now, this isn’t to say Phil was a trash husband who didn’t help with the kids and thus left Viv to be overwhelmed. You could surmise that, but Vivian doesn’t outright say Phil dropped the ball. But, you can see from both sides that lack of communication for decades allowed for Viv’s fall from grace to maybe led her to landing softly, but still far from the light that provides her warmth and purpose.

Which leads us to wonder, with them having an honest heart to heart, what is the path forward? You don’t have real conversations with people like that unless you want to reconcile. But with Phil worried about Reid and Viv doubling down on her relationship with him, professional that is, will that make things worse?

Jazz’s Desire To Stand Up For Hillary

Jazz side eyeing Hillary after she takes a meeting with Victoria's Secret and talks abotu continuing Thirsty Chef

While, in the long run, you could say Jazz backtracked his support once Hillary saw an opportunity to advance her career, up until then, you must admit it was beautiful seeing him jump at the chance to fight for her. In fact, Jazz’s actions really push how much this show wants to honor Black women. Whether it is showing them as individuals with various looks, interests, and personalities or showing them as desirable and not solely for their bodies, Bel-Air is really trying to give us drama without exploiting or putting down these women.

But, getting back to Jazz, I just appreciate that, as much as he admires Hillary’s beauty, he also recognizes her brain and talents are off the charts. That, while she may not need him to defend her, as someone with an interest in her, it is only right for him to step up and support her in case she may need back up.

It makes me think about Kerry Washington talking about her character in Django Unchained as the rare depiction of a Black woman as a damsel in distress and Jamie Foxx’s character as her proverbial knight in shining armor. In the case of Jazz and Hillary, you see an almost modern spin regarding Hillary not being a damsel in distress but rather that strong Black woman we often see. But, rather than her being strong because no one is backing her, Hillary is strong because of not only who she is but all the men willing and able to support her at a moment’s notice.

Pushing You To Understand Carlton Deeper

It’s not hard to misunderstand Carlton, especially the Bel-Air version. He snorts Xanax, is athletically inclined, and is very much the black sheep in his family in glaring ways. Yet, Lisa helps further why Carlton is who he is and Carlton’s interactions with Aisha. As shown, Carlton, because he was exposed to what Bel-Air offers, has interests in lacrosse, fast cars, and what Aisha considers white people things. Even Phil othered Carlton in terms of Carlton’s lack of interest in basketball.

Those comments mess with a person. It pushes that whole, not all skin folk are kinfolk thought, but rather than it be for Carlton’s protection, it made it so he had to retreat to the likes of Connor. Someone whose microaggression and prejudice statements Carlton endured until, as Lisa makes it seem, it caused him anxiety. For, think about it this way: imagine what else he says if Connor has the audacity to say the N-word in a locker room, with the guise of him just rapping along to a song. If he can do that in front of Carlton now, think about all he has said and done to test where the line is.

Yet, because folks like Aisha think Carlton doesn’t like being around other Black people, he doesn’t have an outlet to vent, be comfortable, and potentially relax without fear of depicting a stereotype. I mean, he can’t even do that with his family since they all seem to be like Will and have it easy. Hillary is tall and beautiful, and her social media shows she is capable of being popular just by being herself. Ashley can exist both in Bel Air and the more urban parts of Los Angeles without issues. Geoffrey is a snack, Viv still got her West Philly swag and Phil? He is one of the most successful people Carlton knows. So what right does he have to complain when he is so privileged and clearly has been given the tools for success? How can these people relate to his struggles when they present their lives as so easy?

Carlton after seeing Will and Lisa walk downstairs together from upstairs

That’s why Lisa is so important to him because she allowed him to put his guard down and drop having to curate his personality in such a way that he can find acceptance somewhere, anywhere potentially.

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Phil and Viv laying next together
Bel-Air: Season 1/ Episode 7 “Payback’s a B*tch” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
As Carlton and Vivian's pain is elaborated on, it further helps you understand the seriousness of both Viv's sacrifice and Carlton's issues with Will. Thus deepening both characters beyond the sometimes glaring changes, that may seem meant to shake things up and showing you there is a real plan here.
So Many Black People Not Passing The Paperbag Test
Phil and Viv Airing Out Why Their Relationship Is In The Place It Is
Jazz’s Desire To Stand Up For Hillary
Pushing You To Understand Carlton Deeper

What Would Your Rating Be?

One Comment

  1. That Aisha character played by (Nia Sondaya) Looks perfect as a Carltons love interest, she opened his eyes and gave him a bit of clarity.

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