‘Friends’ Star Courtney Cox Inspired an Iconic Part of ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’

Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air have one thing in common: they’re both super-smash success TV series of the 1990s that have achieved a cult-like following today. Other than that and the laughs that both shows provided to their audiences, it might appear on the surface like the two shows aren’t anything alike.

Friends follows six young adults — well, friends — who navigate life and relationships in New York City. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air features Will Smith as a young man who is sent to live with his rich uncle in Bel-Air after facing some troubles in his hometown of Philadelphia.

Most people don’t know that these two legendary shows have a very interesting connection. If you’re a 90s sit-com lover, you’ll be delighted to know what the unlikely connection is!

‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ is unbeatable

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“Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…”: if you’re a kid of the 90s, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to finish that lyric, the first line in the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The popular show starring Will Smith first aired on NBC all the way back in the year 1990 and ran for 6 seasons.

Smith was only 22 years old at the time and launched his career into Grammy-winning stardom. The show follows Smith’s character, also named Will Smith, as he moves from his Philadelphia neighborhood to his wealthy uncle’s home in Bel-Air. He and his rich family have had very different backgrounds, which causes a lot of conflict and hilarious moments, but at the end of the day, the love within the family wins every time.

The legacy of Fresh Prince still continues to this day, and even 20 years later, fans remember the laughter and love that the show brought into their homes every week. HBO recently announced that it would be offering episodes of Fresh Prince on their new streaming service, HBO Max, and fans lost their minds with excitement. 

The legendary “Carlton dance”

One of the most beloved characters on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is Will’s rich and uptight cousin Carlton, played by Alfonso Ribeiro. Carlton is the polar opposite of ladies-man and jokester Will, but the two find a way to understand each other and develop a close bond.

Although Carlton’s character is charming and quirky on his own, what really cemented his legendary status was his signature dance moves. The “Carlton dance,” as it came to be called, was a dance that Carlton sometimes broke out during the series.

Usually, when he thinks he’s alone, Carlton puts Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” on the stereo and does a silly jig, waving his arms to-and-fro and bouncing along in a two-step. He’s sometimes discovered by Will, who is horribly embarrassed by Carlton’s antics. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wouldn’t be the same without the hilarious moments that the “Carlton dance” gave us.

The Carlton dance was inspired by a famous ‘Friends’ actress

Courteney Cox
Courteney Cox | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

It looks improvised, but Ribeiro apparently had a clear inspiration in mind when he first came up with the “Carlton dance.” The actor has referenced a Bruce Springsteen video in which the rockstar pulls one of the Friends cast members up on stage: Courtney Cox.

“She basically does that dance,” Ribeiro has stated. Watching the video, it’s hard to deny that Cox is doing the exact same dance up on stage with Springsteen. Ribeiro also shared that he took inspiration from Eddie Murphy’s hilarious “white man dance,” and combined the two movements to come up with his very own thing: the “Carlton dance.”

The “Carlton dance” is etched into history, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wouldn’t have been the same without it.