The “Best Man” Cast Celebrate Their Timeless Franchise: “It’s a Cultural Experience”
It’s the end of an era. Nearly 25 years after introducing us to the famous “Black Pack,” the “Best Man” cast are saying goodbye to their iconic franchise with Peacock’s “The Final Chapters.” It’s truly been a journey for Harper (Taye Diggs), Lance (Morris Chestnut), Jordan (Nia Long), Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), Shelby (Melissa De Sousa), Quentin (Terrence Howard), Candace (Regina Hall), and Murch (Harold Perrineau), but their growth from Malcolm D. Lee’s 1999 film to 2013’s “The Best Man Holiday” to their new limited series has been a joy to watch.
“My only intention was to make a movie that stood the test of time and would be considered a classic.”
“The Final Chapters,” which premieres on Dec. 22, catches up with the “Best Man” crew and their unfinished business one last time, following the group of now-40-somethings as they navigate midlife crises, grief, changing relationships, and the woes of the world in their older years. But the real full-circle moment for this grand reunion is Harper’s infamous bestselling novel “Unfinished Business,” aka the source of most of his drama, being turned into a movie adaptation more than 20 years after its debut (yes, the franchise is still keeping up with the times in the age of reboots and book-to-movie inspiration).
Although many fans consider Peacock’s eight-episode series a bittersweet farewell to their favorite Blassic, the “Best Man” cast say they didn’t shed too many tears over the end of the franchise. “I think it’s different [for us],” Chestnut tells POPSUGAR. “If you have a long-running TV show where you’re seeing each other every day, eight months a year, it’s a little different because we [reunite], have a gap, [reunite], have a gap, so it’s been a lot of fun working with family, but I think we’re good with how it’s ending.”
Hall, who made her film debut in “The Best Man” as Candace, agrees. “You gotta remember, we didn’t know it was going to be a franchise, so we’re just grateful for every time we get to [reunite],” she says. When “The Best Man” creator Lee released his debut film back in 1999, he had no idea it’d turn into a cult-classic franchise either. “It wasn’t my intention,” he says. “My only intention was to make a movie that stood the test of time and would be considered a classic. I wanted these characters to be impactful and indelible, and we did that with the first movie.” Even the 2013 sequel came as a surprise, because Lee didn’t anticipate fans still being invested in his characters’ stories. But 23 years later, the “Final Chapters” co-showrunner considers himself and the cast “very fortunate that audiences still react the way they do to them.”
Before the announcement of “The Final Chapters,” many believed the “Best Man” franchise would continue with a third film centered on Quentin’s nuptials teased at the end of its holiday sequel, which was also Lee’s original plan – in addition to a fourth movie. But with the boom of limited series in TV land, the director says the stars aligned to give “The Best Man” a more proper sendoff. “We could be more expansive with our storytelling,” he says of creating the series versus another movie. “The Final Chapters” gives “the actors some scenery to chew” with “the right budget that would attract them to come back,” Lee adds.
“For me, it was important as a woman, as a Black woman, joining Malcolm on this leg of the franchise. I wanted to really dig into the women.”
One way the series takes the franchise’s storytelling to the next level is by highlighting its strong cast of women and their stories, which historically haven’t gotten as much attention. “For me, it was important as a woman, as a Black woman, joining Malcolm on this leg of the franchise. I wanted to really dig into the women,” co-showrunner Dayna Lynne North says of getting tapped for the show. “Because I felt like they had been more so counterparts to the men in the previous iterations of the story, and I was really curious to see when the women get together, what does it look like?”
“We know about the iconic card games, but what do the women do when they hang out?” she continues. “I wanted to know with Candace, with Shelby, with Robyn, what are those arcs going to look like when they get to a point in their midlife metamorphosis? That’s what was really important to me. Making sure those arcs felt as full and three-dimensional as Harper, Quentin, Murch, and [Lance].”
“Great storytelling, real people, real-life experiences, the highs, the lows, the births, deaths, complications, these are things we can all relate to, and it’s a culture.”
Refreshing storytelling is one of the main reasons the “Best Man” franchise has stood the test of time. In addition to its “accurate portrayals” of Black people, per Diggs, Long says “honesty” has a lot to do with the franchise’s legacy. “We’re real people,” she says. “Great storytelling, real people, real-life experiences, the highs, the lows, the births, deaths, complications, these are things we can all relate to, and it’s a culture. It’s a cultural experience that’s super relatable and timeless.”
Though this may be the end of the road for the franchise as we know it, it certainly won’t be the last time we see great Black storytelling on screen. “This is just the beginning of the next version,” Howard notes. “Next story, we build it up and see what happens. I’m just hoping that the generation that was influenced by it will outdo it. I’m hoping that the actors that come up behind us will make the stuff we did look like it was just fool’s play.”