Where Does The Best Man: The Final Chapters Fall In The Franchise’s Iconic Black Romance Canon?

Welcome to Love Like This?, a romance column where we, Kathleen Newman-Bremang and Ineye Komonibo, revisit some of the most romantic — or not, in hindsight  — scenes in Black film and TV history. In this edition, we look back at The Best Man franchise in honor of its reboot The Best Man: The Final Chapters.
The original Best Man came out in 1999. The romantic, dramatic, and messy story of Black love and friendship became an instant classic and now acts as a time capsule to preserve not just late 90s fashion but also a glimpse at the early careers of some of the Black stars who have dominated our screens for decades. And to date, these characters are some of the most beloved in their respective careers. It’s been 23 years since the first time we met the gang: Harper (Taye Diggs), an ambitious novelist who mines his real relationships for material, Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), a free spirited chef, Jordan (Nia Long), a powerhouse media mogul who doesn’t have time for love, Murch (Harold Perrineau), a nerdy people pleaser and wife guy, Candace aka Candy (Regina Hall), a stripper-turned-academic-leader/ mother who is overworked and underappreciated, Quentin (Terrence Howard), the slick party guy and class clown who thrives on chaos, Shelby (Melissa De Sousa), a real housewife who loves drama almost as much as she loves herself, and Lance (Morris Chestnut), a retired all-star athlete grieving the death of his wife. 
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Lance lost Mia (Monica Calhoun) in The Best Man Holiday (2013), and the franchise, which had been a sexy, fun, romantic drama, pivoted into a tragic story of what happens when your soulmate is gone too soon. Almost a decade later, the gang is still reeling from Mia’s death and dealing with their respective baggage. The friends are reunited for a destination wedding when Quentin is set to marry international model and icon Xiomara (Nicole Ari Parker). The cast not only looks incredible (seriously, ain’t nobody aging out here), but they also have the same infectious chemistry that made us all fall in love with them in 1999. Robyn and Harper are still married, and he’s mulling over yet another agonizing work decision that will impact his friendship circle; this time, Harper’s deliberating on whether to adapt the novel he wrote based on their lives into a movie. Murch and Candy are as solid as ever, and Shelby is still causing trouble wherever she goes. The familiarity of these characters is comforting, and our years-long connection to them makes The Best Man: The Final Chapters an easy, addictive watch – even if no one really asked for this sequel. 
Usually in this column, we look back on our fave scenes in Black romance history, but this time, we’re going to dig deep into the past, present and future of The Best Man franchise with some help from its perpetually good-looking cast themselves. Who’s still together? Who should break up? And, as always, we’ll decide if we really want a love like any of these classic yet chaotic characters have. 
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The following discussion includes spoilers for all 8 episodes of The Best Man: The Final Chapters.
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Do The Best Man Movies Hold Up? 

Ineye Komonibo: Watch anything from the 90s or early 2000s, and there are sure to be certain jokes or scenes that, in hindsight, were kinda questionable. The Best Man isn’t the worst in terms of being problematic, and sure, it has its yikes, we were laughing at that? moments, but I think that at their core, these movies are still good years later. At the heart of The Best Man franchise is a friend group that’s messy (not necessarily relatable for me, personally) but these are interesting people who have a really interesting dynamic. Their stories do hold up in that sense. I still really enjoy them! Now, I’ve only seen The Best Man Holiday twice because I don’t enjoy crying for no reason like you do, but I’ve watched the first one a few times. It’s a messy movie, and that’s what makes it good and makes it a classic. 
Kathleen Newman-Bremang: I hear you on the problematic point, but I think I’m more on the train that they both definitely hold up. I’ll maybe defend some of the problematic jokes because most of them come from Terrence Howard’s Quentin; he’s an insensitive person saying insensitive shit, and that tracks for his character. I was just watching The Best Man Holiday (one of my go-to Christmas movies, I still love it), and he makes some slightly homophobic jokes and I was like, what!? But that’s his character. It’s like if you were friends with Dave Chappelle — not that either of us would be.
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Otherwise, I love the OG The Best Man because it’s just a beautiful, classic 90s Black romance. One of the big things that doesn’t hold up for me, though, is that Harper (Diggs) proposed to Sanaa Lathan’s Robyn at Lance (Chestnut) and Mia’s (Calhoun) wedding. You know I don’t love grand gestures in general, but I especially don’t like it when someone does it at someone else’s wedding. That’s not your moment. But I think that when I first watched it when I was little, I thought it was cute. Now, I do not.
IK: Actually, what is consistent is that Harper, who is the main character in this ensemble, is an awful person. Looking back, I wish that the story didn’t revolve around him and that we could have heard from other people in the friend group more. He’s weird. Like, why do you act like that, sir?
KNB: More on this later, but Taye Diggs is my man, and I love Harper, so you will pay for this slander.

Would You Want A Love Like Any Of The Best Man Couples?

KNB: Okay, we have to go with the love stories in the new series, because the obvious answer is Lance and Mia overall. That love was pure and beautiful. Rest in peace. I think they definitely regret killing her off. 
IK: If I had to pick, I’m going with Murch (Perrineau) and Candace (Hall). They have a very give-and-take relationship; she shows up as she is, and he loves her for it. In the first two movies, there was a whole thing about her past as a stripper, but over time you see that she’s very open about it being part of her life, not all that she is. Candace essentially tells Murch to either accept that part of her or not get any access to her at all, and he’s fully on board. And they build a legacy together – a home and a family. When I interviewed the cast, everybody also voted for Murch and Candace, too. That’s the couple that they think is the most realistic and most admirable. 
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“I like what Candace and Murch have going on,” Regina Hall answered during the Best Man: Final Chapters junket. “They work together, and they have a commitment outside of themselves that helps them have a very purpose driven life. And for the most part, they’re really happy together.”
KNB: I agree. But Taye Diggs’ answer was Lance and Harper [laughs]. Jokes aside, I actually think Lance and Harper’s friendship is very toxic. They’re always breaking up and getting back together. They are always fighting. I would not want a platonic love like that. 
IK: They’re nice to look at together. Nia Long said, and I quote, “That would be a lot of delicious chocolate in one relationship.” (She’s just like me.)
KNB: They are nice to look at. I agree that Murch and Candace are definitely the healthiest pairing but, and hear me out, I actually really love [SPOILER ALERT] Jordan (Long) and Harper together. 
IK: [eyeroll] Oh, brother.
KNB: This may be my love for Brown Sugar speaking, but you know I love a best friends-to-lovers trope! I know I should be on Team Sanaa if I love Brown Sugar, but I really do think Jordan and Harper were supposed to be together from the beginning. He should’ve never proposed to Robyn at Lance and Mia’s wedding to begin with. Listen, I’m happy for them that they have their kid now, and they seemed like they had a decent marriage at first, but it’s been Jordan for him since day one! I don’t know if I would necessarily want a love like Jordan and Harper have but I think their love is the most honest and destined. 
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IK: For the sake of this universe, them getting together does make sense, but the way it played out (with Harper and Jordan kissing behind Robyn’s back, only for her to find out through Harper’s journal) made it hard for the audience to root for them. 
KNB: I actually think it’s pretty realistic how it played out. Harper married the wrong person. People do that all the time. And then they kind of fizzled out on their own. Yeah, it’s messed up that he ended up cheating on Robyn with Jordan, but they had issues before then. She wanted a different life, and let’s be honest, he was never really that into her! And she always deserved better! 
IK: Harper wanted to speed up, and Robyn wanted to slow down, so yeah, I think in the end, he needed a partner like Jordan who is as ambitious as he is. Someone who is on GO all the time. I get it, but the storyline needed to focus more on building a better case for Harper and Jordan’s relationship versus a case against Harper and Robin’s marriage. 

Whose Love Is The Most Solid?

KNB: Obviously, it’s Murch and Candace.
IK: Yes, but surprisingly, when Shelby and Quentin finally got together, it was really nice! [laughs]. She messed up his wedding and told him that her daughter she’s had all this time is actually his, and then they settled into this really cute family dynamic. 
KNB: Okay, hold up — let’s run that back a second. We’re talking about solid foundations, and Shelby has been lying to this man for years? She had his kid calling him Uncle Q! That baby is a whole ass pre-teen now, and she robbed them both of that relationship. How was he not more mad about that?
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IK: We might have to chalk that up to a character development issue, because the realistic reaction would be “are you joking?!” Quentin should have been pissed, but instead he was just in awe and happy, even when Shelby basically copped to not telling him because she thought he hated her.
KNB: I understand that she was scared and that their relationship was the opposite of stable, but I can’t get over what she took from both of them. She gave this little baby girl daddy issues for no reason! Sure, they get to be a happy family now, but I would be more pissed if I was Quentin. And not to give this man any compliments, but Terrence Howard is a good motherfucking actor. When he finds out, and he’s got tears in his eyes, that got me! 
IK: The scene at the airport where Q is finally confessing his love for Shelby did it for me, I’m not gon’ hold you. He’s yelling at her and saying “I hate you” which I didn’t like because I hate an enemies-to-lovers trope, and there are people watching, but then he says “who am I without you?” I was like “wait a minute!” I really like them. I wouldn’t want a love like theirs, but I do think they are the second best love story in this whole thing.

Rate The Kiss(es) 

KNB: Overall, how is the kissing in The Best Man franchise? You’ve got Shelby and Quentin kissing, Robyn and Harper, Harper and Jordan, Murch and Candace, and Lance and everybody. 
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IK: I feel like they were not kissing enough! I finished the series last night, and none of the kisses are particularly memorable. There are no standout kisses. Even when Harper and Jordan finally get together and kiss, it was just like a little smooch. 
KNB: They had a very good kiss in The Best Man (1999)! But when they do finally get together in this series, the kissing is not as electric as it was. Xiomara and Quentin have a few hot kisses, but that’s it. Maybe it’s because this cast is getting back together after a decade and they’re too close. They’re homies now, and kissing each other may feel weird. I don’t know!
IK: Grown people be kissing too! I just wasn’t feeling the kissing or the love scenes. This is not as romantic a series like this franchise has been in the past. 
KNB: Romance is so much at the core of The Best Man, and Lance and Mia’s love is at the forefront of The Best Man Holiday, so I don’t like that. I mean, we do have Shelby and Quentin [laughs]. If that’s the best romance this series has for us, America has a problem!

Which Best Man Is The Hottest? 

IK: Wait — speaking of kissing, Morris Chestnut as Lance is in his ho era, and we love to see it. Morris Chestnut…that’s a Black king right there! That. Is. A. King. To be fair, on the show, Lance turns out to be a bit problematic because his child LJ comes out as nonbinary, and his reaction is so trash at first; he takes away their credit card and tries to throw away their clothes. He eventually gets it together in the end, but Lance is kind of a bad dad for a lot of the plot. But even at his lowest, even with all the wasteman stuff he’s doing, he looks so good. And Morris knows what he’s doing — he told me that he’s excited to get the girls riled up. 
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“Lance is a little…different this time around,” Morris shared. “People are used to seeing him in a certain way, so they’re going to be jolted by this new version of him, but I think it’s good to be able to see Lance evolve.”
Photo: Nicolas Cordone/Peacock.
KNB: Oh yeah, that man is fine. But for me, it’s Taye Diggs all day every day, baby. I don’t care if he’s said problematic things in the past or that he will probably say more in the future, but Taye Diggs, that’s my man. He has been my man since the OG Rent, since How Stella Got Her Groove Back, since Brown Sugar, and whatever else I saw him in during my formative years. I have loved him since the day I laid eyes on him — that’s a Brown Sugar quote for the real ones. And maybe this is why I’m a Harper apologist. Listen, Morris Chestnut is objectively hotter. He is maybe the finest man in the whole world. He is stupidly beautiful, but I would choose Taye anyway. That’s my man, and Imma stick beside him. 
IK: Taye Diggs has such a good personality, so I get it. I personally hate Harper, but when I talked to Taye during the virtual junket, I almost screamed. I was so embarrassed by my own reaction. I could tell Nia Long was like “oh, here she goes!” 
KNB: I am a day one Taye stan. 
IK: Is Taye a short king?
KNB: Definitely. I don’t even care. I like that he makes fun of himself. And he just seems fun! As for the rest of them, I’m sure Harrold Perrinou is a sweet man — big fan of his daughter — but sorry, but he’s not even in the running. And Terrence Howard has been canceled how many times? He’s a no. It’s between Morris and Taye, and it looks like we have a tie. As for the women, everybody’s fine. 10s across the board. 
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IK: Nobody necessarily asked for this reboot, but it’s worth it to tap in just to see everyone looking so good.

Which Couples Should Stay Together? 

KNB: I agree that no one asked for this, but I almost feel like it needed to happen just so Jordan and Harper could get together. They’re endgame! I like that they ended up getting together. So, in the end, the couples that are still together are Shelby and Quentin, Murch and Candace, Jordan and Harper, and Lance and the pretty dark-skinned lady from the resort whose name I can’t remember. So, here’s how I think it goes:  Murch and Candace will be together forever. Even if they are 80 and miserable, they stay together; they’re just boring and married and stable. Shelby and Quentin will get divorced, but they will also get back together because that tumultuous relationship isn’t going to change. They’re going to break up and get back together a million times. And you know what, I think Jordan and Harper ultimately decide they are better off as friends. [laughs] I just surprised myself with that answer! 
IK: What was that all for then?! I also agree that these people are not going to stay together, so we did all of this for what? 
KNB: As much as I think they’re endgame, I think they’re going to be like, “yo, you’re just the homie.” But they needed to get together. It was inevitable.
IK: They should have done all that before Harper got married and had a kid with someone else! They could have figured that out before. 
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KNB: Well, do you think Lance is going to get his happily ever after with his new fiancée? 
IK: That's always going to be Mia’s husband. Literally before he’s anything else — a dad, a friend, and all-star athlete — that’s Mia’s husband, even if she’s not here anymore. Anyone he’s with is just going to play second fiddle to the memory of his wife. They’re basically in a throuple with a dead woman. But looking the way Lance does…I’d have to eat that L. Sister-wife me, please! 
KNB: Lance is, in his heart, a one-woman man, but I think you’re right — they will always be haunted by the ghost of Mia. 
IK: Monica Calhoun actually made an appearance in the show, so she was available! I always wondered why they had to kill her off…

Should Any Other Classic Black Romances Be Rebooted?

KNB: No, absolutely not. Listen, I know we always ask “Where are these couples now? Are they still together?” and these reboots essentially answer those questions, but one of the beautiful things about romances is that they get to say, “And they lived happily ever after. The end.” And we get to go about our days knowing our faves are happy and in love — Sidney Shaw and Dre Ellis are together forever! Ultimately, reboots just end up messing with shit. If you were a Harper and Robyn stan, this series just ruined it! 
IK: Most of the time, reboots of our favorite shows and movies also don’t come close to living up to what the original gave. The Best Man: The Final Chapters was fun because we missed these characters and these friendships and their dynamics, but when it comes to the quality of the story…I could’ve done without it. This isn’t me saying "no" to other Black romance classics being rebooted, though — I will absolutely watch them all of them because I’m nosy! 
The Best Man: The Final Chapters premieres on Peacock on Dec. 22.

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