'Bel-Air': Showrunner Carla Banks Waddles on Keeping Storylines Juicy in Season 2 (Exclusive)

Season 2 of Peacock's breakout hit Bel-Air has some major surprises in store, and much of it can be attributed to new showrunner, Carla Banks Waddles. She was promoted to showrunner, taking over for TJ Brady and Rasheed Newson, who stepped down from the role over creative differences. The duo remains executive producers on the series, but Banks is helming the Banks family…no pun intended. She says there's a lot to look forward to in terms of character development and juicy storylines in Season 2.

Ahead of the Feb. 23 premiere, PopCulture spoke with Banks Waddles about how she added her own twist to the successful dramatized reimagined version of the series. Watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel

PC: Congratulations on Season 2. This is your first season as a showrunner on the show. What element were you happy to keep from season one, and what twist of your own were you excited to incorporate this time around?

CBW: So much of season one was explosive. It was really just about meeting these characters and really sort of introducing these new re-imagined characters that everybody knows and loves and showing them who they could be in this re-imagined space. So very much an intro, a lot of emotion, but Season 2, I was really excited to really delve deeper into who they are and take some even bigger risks from season one because we have an ensemble, and they're just all so talented. It's just a great cast, and you want to give them all their story.

And so for me, in Season 2, just really wanting to make sure that everybody found their space, everybody had their arc. Will is at the center of this story and of this family, but they also have stories of their own and things that they're going through. And just wanting everybody to feel from episode one to episode 10 that they've been on a journey with each and every one of these characters that feels fun and satisfying, unexpected, that will leave people talking.

Now, because Season 1 was so well-received after such buildup, as fans, we were nervous. We were like, "We don't know how they're going to pull this off," and you guys pulled it off seamlessly. But was there any fear to top what was done because it was a cultural phenomenon?

Well, yes. We were holding our breath in season one because, like you said, fans were a little nervous about what was to come of this family and what we were going to do, how were we tampering with the legacy of the Banks family because it was such a perfect story and it ended in such a perfect way. So to suddenly open the doors up to, "Wait, they're coming back in a different space," there was a lot of trust involved with that, but I feel like people got on board with it. It is a monumental task to try to hold on to the things that people love about the original series and the original characters and the things that they love and being respectful of that, but also being willing to take risks.

And I think the character of Carlton, obviously, last season was a very big risk and a very big departure from that original one, but there were pieces of that original Carlton where you could see, "Yeah, this is who this young man would be in this new space." So I'm just thankful that people gave us the room to play with this family, but also keep what's special about them and the heartbeat of the love that this family has for each other is still there.

Now, you spoke a little bit about it being an ensemble show, although Will is at the center and how everyone has gravitated toward the whole Carlton situation. But what else are you excited for people to see this time around?

I'm excited for so many things. We have some really juicy love triangles this season. We're opening up a new world with some new characters at Bel-Air Academy for Lisa and for Will, and even for Carlton. And so I'm excited for people to see that, how we're mixing up the love interests in the show and even for Jazz and Hillary and their relationship and will they survive because they're obviously two very different people? So excited for that. And even with Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil, the adult relationships in this marriage, introducing a new character in their space, someone they went to college with, that comes back into their world.

That causes a little bit of a situation, and just really seeing how they handle that in a marriage. So a lot of new characters that are coming in that I'm excited about. Excited about Jeffrey. So many people loved him last season. This man of mystery and wanting to know, "We want to know more about Jeffrey," and so you will find out more about Jeffrey this season. So I can't wait for people to see the other layers of all these characters that are there.