Kenneth Flakes, PE
11 Takeaways from "The Best Man: The Final Chapters"
Adulting is hard, but if we prioritize our relationships, and work to grow as people, then adulting challenges can be overcome.
The Best Man is a classic dramedy franchise that has spanned 23 years. In The Best Man: The Final Chapters, the relatable friends, Harper, Robyn, Lance, Jordan, Quentin, Shelby, Candace, and Murch experience challenges in marriage, parenting, career, dating, friendship, and personal identity. Below are my key takeaways after completing the eight-episode series on the Peacock streaming service.
Harper needed to fight for his daughter!
Everyone knows that Harper Stewart is a greatly flawed character in The Best Man series. If any character is a villain in the series, it would be Harper Stewart. Although one can debate how much he prioritized his career over his family, it does appear that Harper was a good father to their daughter Mia.
So, I was saddened to learn that Harper and Robyn were divorcing. I honestly do not begrudge Robyn for pursuing the divorce. She gave Harper opportunities to address her issues and he failed to address them.
But I take exception with her taking their daughter to Ghana. In my opinion, her request was more selfish than any selfish act that she accused Harper of. There is a common myth that a large number of Black men are absent fathers, but the reality is that most Black fathers are active in the lives of their children.
I do not doubt that Harper will find a way to be an active father in Mia's life, but Robyn created an unnecessary barrier between Harper and Mia, just to advance her goals. I’m sure that Mia will love Ghana but she will miss her father greatly. I strongly believe that Harper should have fought harder to keep his daughter stateside. I believe Mia may later resent that her dad did not push harder for her to be closer to him.
As an aside, I must say that my favorite dramatic scene of the movie was when Harper and Robyn respectively called each other a “fake African Kunte Kinte” and an “Uncle Tom, Clarence Thomas”.
Quentin and Shelby had a surprisingly functional relationship.
Quentin and Shelby have come a long way since The Best Man. Since the first movie, they have progressed from a love-hate, sexual relationship into a surprisingly functional marriage. Both appear to be genuinely in love and are emotionally present for each other. Quentin and Shelby were my favorite couple in the series. They give hope to any couple that has had early struggles in their relationship.
There is irony between Jordan Armstrong and Nia Long.
Sorry, but I could not help but notice the irony between Nia Long and her character, Jordan Armstrong. This year, Nia Long’s partner, former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, was exposed for cheating on her with a married woman. Ironically, Nia Long’s character, Jordan Armstrong, was involved with Harper, a married person as well. I presume that The Best Man: The Final Chapters was filmed before Ime Udoka’s cheating was exposed, but I wonder if Nia Long recognized the irony?
But didn't Robyn cheat on Harper?
Something was going on between Robyn and Jaha. There definitely seemed to be a strong emotional connection between the two.
The irony however is that Robyn accused Harper of not being transparent, but she was not transparent about her emotional connection with Jaha. So what’s up with that? It appears to me that Robyn certainly crossed boundaries with her emotional relationship with Jaha.
So is emotional cheating equally as bad as physical cheating?
Black men struggle to accept changing views about gender and sexuality.
In the movie, Lance Sullivan discovered that his eldest son and namesake, LJ, was nonbinary. Lance Sr. did not accept this very well in the beginning and it led to LJ running away from home and worrying friends and family.
It is well known that Black transgender and gender non-conforming people who experience rejection from their families suffer higher rates of poor mental health, so I’m glad that Lance found a way to accept his son being nonbinary. LJ is going to need his family more than ever now that he is out.
There is a bit of irony in that Terrence Howard played LJ's godfather in The Best Man: The Final Chapters, but he also played a father role in the series Empire, where he too struggled to handle his son's sexuality. Even as LJ’s godfather, Quentin had no idea about gender identification.
So, although it was great to watch Lance evolve and learn to accept LJ as nonbinary, Lance's initial rejection illuminates how some Black fathers have strong traditional views regarding masculinity. But as Morris Chestnut suggested in his interview with CASSIUSLife, Black men will need to learn to overcome these detrimental attitudes.
I do think, however, that it is important to give family members grace when learning about these types of new sexual identities. LJ, for example, likely had years to become comfortable with being nonbinary while Lance only had a few days or weeks to process LJ's new sexual identity.
Balance is necessary for fulfillment.
Jordan was an accomplished executive at MSNBC who struggled with managing her stress and self-care. Her work-life balance is so out of proportion that never found a long-term romance. Unfortunately, it took a near pregnancy for her to learn that she had to prioritize herself. This led Jordan to eventually leave her job with the goal of focusing on herself.
Interestingly, a child may have been the best thing in Jordan's career. A child may have forced Jordan to love something other than her work. And maybe as a mother, she would have figured out how to reduce her workload and remain a successful executive.
Shelby did both Quentin and Kennedy wrong!
Shelby’s decision to keep Quentin in the dark about his daughter Kennedy for 10 years was so egregiously wrong that I’m surprised it was not more of a story in the movie. So I respectfully agree with Harper "disrespectfully disagreeing" with Shelby.
Even Quentin appeared to agree with Harper before Shelby completely checked him. But Quentin facetiously telling Harper to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth was the funniest moment of the movie for me.
Grief is a highly personal experience.
In The Best Man: The Final Chapters, Lance struggles with his identity as he was no longer connected to football and was still grieving his wife’s cancer death. Some people may use unhealthy methods to cope with grief such as drug use. Some may use alcohol or food to cope with grief. Others may practice denial of their grief. In The Best Man: The Final Chapters, Lance used sex to cope with his grief.
Fortunately, for Lance, he met Jasmine who helped him begin to process his grief. Jasmine entered Lance’s life at the right time because unresolved grief could have progressed his grief into depression.
There were several references to Black culture.
I loved all of the references to Black culture in the movie, starting with the episode names. I do not think that most people realize that each of the eight episodes is named after a book by a Black author.
I noticed that “Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey” was used in one of the scenes. Uncle Nearest is provided by the Nearest Green Distillery which is the most successful black-owned distillery in the world. The brand just crossed $100M in sales this year.
It was great seeing Black sports media personalities, Bomani Jones, Jemele Hill, Cari Champion, Michael K. Smith, Maria Taylor, and Stephen A. Smith make appearances in the movie.
Even Black media sites such as The Shade Room got some exposure in the movie.
My only disappointment was that there was no Black-owned news network for Jordan to work for. Granted MSNBC is the most-watched cable news network for Black audiences and the movie aired on the Peacock streaming service which NBC owns, but with all the Black references in the movie, a black-owned network was missing. Hence, the reason why Black news media is important in America.
Andy Cohen stays profiting off Black reality stars.
I do not have anything personal against Andy Cohen. I enjoy him on CNN with Anderson Cooper every year on New Year’s Eve. He appears to be a nice guy. But as the executive producer of The Real Housewives franchise, I resent how Cohen’s franchise, in addition to other reality shows, monetizes a distorted view of Black people which often leads to stereotypes that are difficult to overcome.
So to see Andy Cohen appear in The Best Man: The Final Chapters and reprise his role as the host of Watch What Happens Live! with Andy Cohen was a bit disappointing.
I understand that Cohen is synonymous with reality TV, so his selection makes perfect sense, but I would have loved to see Marc Lamont Hill or Iyanla Vanzant, for example, appear in the movie instead of Cohen.
Taye Diggs likes to play the bad guy.
Either Taye Diggs enjoys playing roles where his character is a villain or cheats, or he so happens to be unlucky and picks these roles. Below are a few of his scandalous activities that I recall:
In The Best Man, Diggs’s character, Harper, slept with Mia, when she was Lance's girlfriend.
In The Best Man: The Final Chapters, Harper at minimum had an inappropriate kiss with Jordan while married.
Diggs’s character, Dr. Samuel Bennett, in the medical drama, Private Practice, slept with his ex-wife’s best friend after their divorce.
In Brown Sugar, Diggs’s character, Dre, kissed Reese before his wedding and then later cheated on his wife with Reese.
In his current television series, All American, Diggs’s character, Billy Baker, had an affair.
At the rate Diggs is going, he might become the most hated serial cheating actor since Michael Beach!