The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
Since its 1999 theatrical premiere The Best Man franchise has been a beloved staple within our community. It was the talk of the town once again when the sequel, The Best Man Holiday, debuted in 2013. And now, 24 years later, under the direction of Malcolm D. Lee and featuring the original acclaimed cast aka the “Justice League of Black Hollywood.” The Best Man Final Chapters has once again ignited our conversations on what it means to be in community with friends and family. The kind of interpersonal relationships that know you well enough to tell you about yourself and hold space for you when you’ve lost who you are.
To discuss The Best Man: Final Chapters in-depth, this week, I’m in conversation with 2 more incredible members of the team, Content Director, Kamron Taylor and Content Specialist, Gorgeous West. In our conversation we explore, how the limited series met and missed our expectations, which character dynamics we were most enthralled by and disappointed in, and how we feel knowing that these are our final moments with Quentin, Shelby, Harper, Robyn, Murch, Candace, Lance, and Jordan. This episode does contain spoilers.
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Bonus, The Best Man: Final Chapters
Dr. Joy: Hey, y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for a special bonus episode of Therapy for Black Girls. We'll get into our conversation right after a word from our sponsors.
Dr. Joy: Before we get into it, please note that this episode does include spoilers for the new Peacock series, The Best Man: Final Chapters. So if you haven't had the opportunity to watch, please put this episode on pause and return once you've had your time to enjoy the series. Since its 1999 theatrical premiere, The Best Man franchise has been a beloved staple within our community. It was the talk of the town once again when the sequel, The Best Man Holiday, debuted in 2013. And now 24 years later, under the direction of Malcolm D. Lee, and featuring the original acclaimed cast, aka the Justice League of Black Hollywood, The Best Man: Final Chapters has once again ignited our conversations on what it means to be in community with friends and family. The kind of interpersonal relationships that know you well enough to tell you all about yourself and hold space for you when you've lost who you are.
To discuss The Best Man: Final Chapters in depth, this week I'm in conversation with my beloved TBG team members, Content Director Kamron Taylor and Content Specialist Gorgeous West. In our conversation, we explore how the limited series met and missed our expectations, which character dynamics we were most enthralled by and disappointed in, and how we feel knowing that these are our final moments with Quentin, Shelby, Harper, Robyn, Murch, Candace, Lance and Jordan. If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or you can come on over and join us in the Sister Circle to talk more in depth about the episode. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Here's our conversation.
Dr. Joy: I'm so excited to be joined by two new members of our team today. Gorgeous West and Kamron Taylor are joining me today to talk about one of our new favorites, The Best Man: Final Chapters. Kamron and Gorgeous, do you want to share who you are and what you do here at Therapy for Black Girls?
Kamron: My name is Kamron Taylor as you mentioned, and I am the content director for Therapy for Black Girls.
Gorgeous: My name is Gorgeous West and I'm a content specialist with Therapy for Black Girls.
Dr. Joy: Very excited to have both of you joining us. I think like many people, you both were spending some of your holiday break binging The Best Man: Final Chapters. I do want to get started by just talking, so I love that we are also at different points in our own lives because I think that lends a bit of diversity to how we are entering into the Best Man universe. Tell me, how were you introduced to the very first The Best Man? That came out originally in 1999, so where were you in your life? Were you even watching The Best Man in 1999? Probably not.
Gorgeous: I think for me, Dr. Joy. I was young at the time. So I was one of those kids by default they had to go with their mom and sister to the movie theater to watch the film. And then whenever the scenes were inappropriate, that's when they covered my eyes. But that's when I was first introduced to The Best Man, the whole series and platform.
Dr. Joy: And when did you watch it again as an adult, like when you understood what was happening?
Gorgeous: I was in college. Yeah, I watched it again in college.
Dr. Joy: And what about you, Kamron?
Kamron: Yeah, so I actually can't even remember when it was introduced to me. I think I just always knew of it as like a classic. And obviously, my parents were like there are a few movies that you must have under your belt and The Best Man was of course one of them. So it's just always been in my life, in our family's life for years.
Dr. Joy: And I was in college. I was a junior in college, so I saw it in real time. And so I definitely feel like I have grown up with the characters. It definitely felt good to see, we had the first one in ‘99 and then The Holiday in 2013 and then we were reintroduced to the characters all grown up and really into their lives with The Best Man: Final Chapters. So tell me about your experience of watching The Best Man: Final Chapters. First, what was your reaction to even finding out that we were getting the Final Chapters as a special limited run series on Peacock?
Kamron: I'm not even gonna lie. I was a little curious how they were going to do this. The Best Man, to me, just stands alone, like the original movie. And I was like they're going to do a whole series, what is this going to even look like? So after watching it, I was like, Aha! I see there's a lot of character development which was very, very, very pleasant to see, that they did all of the characters justice.
Gorgeous: I think for me, Dr. Joy, I was hesitant. I'm one of those people, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So I was like, are they really about to do this? Are they gonna do it correctly to where it doesn't feel rushed? I had a lot of questions going into it. Because it was one of those things, The Best Man is a classic within itself so if you mess it up, then it's like this could mess up the whole nostalgic aspect of it for me. And so I was like, okay, I'm gonna give it a shot and that’s what I did. Once I watched it, I was like, okay, they nailed it. I was very impressed.
Dr. Joy: I think, like both of you, I was also a little apprehensive. But I think also just more excited to see, okay, where are we going to be with these characters’ storylines, like this many years later? And what is going to be the progression of the stories since we first saw them in 1999? I was also particularly, I think, encouraged because the original showrunners and executive producer were still involved. So I think it would have been a little bit more concerning to me if either the people who were writing the storylines weren't the same or if they had changed any of the characters. So if we had not seen some of the characters who were in that original film, I think it would have felt a little bit more... I don't know. But I definitely was very excited and I also think that they did it justice. So tell me any storylines, any particular characters that you felt very strongly about. Either you were very pleased with the story or you were like, uh-uh, they didn't do this person justice. Any people stand out for you?
Kamron: Yes. I will say, in a positive way, like in a positive light, I was really pleased with the way that they developed Quentin and Shelby. At first, I thought these are kind of like superficial characters. You got the player and then you have Shelby who's like very superficial. But the depth that they went into, their character development throughout the series was probably the biggest surprise, like learning so much about them. And then also just seeing Terrence Howard, his acting chops. Obviously, we've always known that he's a great actor, but seeing him in this role was really, truly amazing to me. So those two definitely stand out in a positive way.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, and I would agree with you. I was not really a fan of Shelby coming into this because I think she was more of a like outskirts kind of character. I was not expecting to really enjoy her as much as I did, but I did really love where they went with that storyline. I though was confused about why Nicole Ari Parker's character was introduced anyway because it felt like we only had her for a very short time before they put Quentin and Shelby together. And so I'm guessing that was maybe a part of, okay, this is how we get introduced to Lance's eventual new boo. But it did feel a little confusing to me why we introduced Nicole Ari Parker's character in the first place when she really wasn't a part of the story for very long.
Kamron: I think Nicole Ari Parker, her role is there just so that we can see that back and forth at the resort between Nicole Ari Parker and Shelby. When she's talking about her being with her man, and it's just like very in your face. For me, that was just such a pivotal scene and also a scene where I started to see Shelby's maturity. When Nicole Ari Parker was about to leave, I think one of the last episodes where we see Shelby is looking at Nicole Ari Parker, and she's like, you know, if you've hurt him, it's gonna be over for you. And that's what really kind of settled it. I'm like, okay, so there's gonna be some depth to Shelby, this go round.
Gorgeous: I think for me, I felt like that was a representation of current day how relationships and couples – when people get with new people, and you're like, well, wait a minute. I don’t remember you being like this back in the day. You’ve been with this person and now you even switched up. And so you remember in that series, Harper, everybody was like Quentin is not the same, he's not the same. And they were trying to contribute that to his relationship with her. And in that sense, that switch up or that shift to him kind of made his friends question who he was currently. Because he was doing things differently, he was like this whole new holistic person with his new energy and they were all attributing that to that relationship. So I felt like that was a representation of current day, how sometimes when you're friends with people you know and have known for a long time, when they get into new relationships, they change and they shift. And the person you’d once known them to be might not be that same person anymore.
Dr. Joy: You bring up an interesting point there, Gorgeous, and I wonder if we can talk a little bit about how that might play out in the real world. Because I think for most of it, we saw them continuing to be supportive. So it very much felt like they had concerns about like, okay, who is this new person Quentin is with? But they were like, if he's happy, we're gonna go along with it. But in the real world, if you have a friend who is engaged or in a long term relationship with somebody who you are looking at a little questionable, how might you handle that?
Kamron: I want to say that I would be as supportive as all of the other people were, and I think some elements of support would be there. But I do think that there would be an element of me that is just very direct with that friend, kind of like I don't know how I feel about this. Especially if I found that it was impacting their character in some way, impacting the human that they are and the person that I'm friends with. Then I think I could see it going a little different.
Gorgeous: I think, Dr. Joy, that's something you would have to tread very lightly because you could be considered the hater, the hater friend, if you confront that friend. Like what are you on? Like you're not who I know you to be. But then it's like you have to let people grow and elevate. So it's like who I've known you to be could have grown to this new version of yourself so I have to be open to that. But I also agree with you, Kamron. Addressing it or even having a conversation about it, but being very tactful in how you do it.
Dr. Joy: And it really feels like that's the role Harper had for most of it. Like I think he was the one who was most skeptical of who Quentin had become in this new relationship. But he also was the one who drove the getaway car when he was like, okay, do you want to go to the airport to make sure she's getting on the plane? So it's like, okay, I'm gonna be open to this but I'm also going to give you an out if at any moment you decide that you're ready to roll. Okay, so let us talk about Murch and Candace who we see now they have a whole family, they're settled into their family life. Candace, it sounds like, after the wedding experience has opened up this whole new interest into more traditional healing and like alternative medicine kinds of things. We see her going back to school. And to me it feels like a little bit of an identity crisis kind of situation with Murch. So share any thoughts that you have about Candace and Murch and what we saw of them throughout the series.
Gorgeous: I'm so glad that you brought that up, Dr. Joy, because that was one of the notes that I’ve mentioned in the sense of that shift. Especially with Candace, in the very first Best Man, she was the dancer for the bachelor party. And so to see her character evolve to now being a wife, a mother, a scholar pursuing her education and then working with the schools and with the children, it was a huge shift. As to who you first saw her as, to the woman she's become. And then also for Murch, in the sense of like him, his development of character of becoming more of like, okay, you’re not gonna keep playing me like this wimp or this soft person. If you see him not wanting his friends to hold him back as the version of himself he once was and really invites who he is now. So I think as a couple, they both represented kind of like a change from who we first saw them as, to who we now see them as in this finale aspect.
Kamron: I love how deep they went with Murch’s character just in terms of that shift. And like you see the way that that old identity and the way that his friends have been treating him, the way that society is treating him, the way that just culturally our world treats black men. Like I love the way that they investigated that and really did show how much it was deeply affecting him. Like in that scene where he's going through all of the different ways that he would approach the white woman when he finds her having lunch with her friends. We were able to see that side of Murch but I think all of us could kind of identify with a little bit of what he was going through. All of the different things that you would say to somebody who made you feel a type of way. And then also we were able to see how that impacted the relationship with his kids as well. Again, as a black man, as a father, as a parent, all of these things, how are you showing up for your kids knowing that there is this like hierarchy in society? I thought that was really awesome and I'm proud of them for delving into that.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, and I think related to the identity piece, it feels like it started when he was not chosen to be Quentin's best man. There was something very much wrapped into who he thought he was in the circle that I think we then saw play out in other areas of his life. And so I think it showed up there but then it also showed up when Candace was going back to school and he became more of a stay at home dad in a lot of ways. And so then started doing MMA fighting, I guess is what it would be captured, as an outlet and kind of to have something for himself. What did you all make of him struggling so much with not being chosen to be Quentin's best man?
Gorgeous: I think for me, it was one thing that he tried to downplay. He was trying to make it not be such a big deal but it really was a big deal to him. And I think essentially, in friend groups and friend circles, you want to be that chosen one. You want to feel like you have that level of importance or significance in your friends’ lives. And so to not be chosen, I think that might have felt like a blow for him, essentially, based on the history with Harper being the previous best man and what his past doings were in that first film. So kind of like, dang, how did he get it again? You know, what about me?
Dr. Joy: Right. And not to mention he wasn't that successful of a best man, given all the history that Harper had. So I can imagine Murch being like, what in the world? Like why would he get chosen again? And ultimately, we do see that he is eventually given that title, but it definitely seemed like something he was struggling with, at least in the beginning, that we saw come out later in the film as well.
Kamron: Yeah. I mean, back into unpacking Murch’s identity, I feel like there's a part of him that just needed to feel needed. Not just in his friend group, but then in his family as well. And like when he's not needed or that role shifts in any way, you can just see the spiral just sort of take place. And again, I think that's something that just applying that practically to anyone's life, you can struggle with “I'm not needed in this way, what does that mean for me as a person?” And that can be very scary to actually confront with yourself.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. And I think in some ways, Candace was having some of that same internal conversation. It definitely felt like when she stumbled upon this alternative medicine on the wedding trip, it feels like it was something that she felt like, oh finally, I have this thing that is really speaking to me. Like I found the thing that really lights me up. And so we didn't see very many conversations between the two of them about you're gonna go pursue this while I kind of take a step back, but I would imagine those were some interesting conversations. You know, to kind of say she's gonna go full force into being back in school as opposed to being more the primary parent and doing more of the day to day kind of child rearing responsibilities.
The other thing that I think we see a lot, I think from the beginning. When Lance was first introduced to us in The Final Chapters, we see that he is continuing to struggle with significant grief. And I think that this is one of the things that the show did really well, was to talk about and to really display how grief can look lots of different ways. And so from the movie to this series, it looks like it has been about two years since Mia’s death. So we see that he is still reeling from the loss of Mia and who she was as his partner, as well as his children's mom. Gorgeous, I definitely want to hear your thoughts about what grief looked like throughout the series, especially related to Lance's character.
Gorgeous: Initially, you could tell challenge of the trouble. Of course, the loss of Mia was impactful for the whole collective of the group. But especially for him because that was his partner, and like you say, someone that he envisioned living life with. And now he has to show up amongst his friend group as a solo, he doesn't have that partner. And that alone to be challenging, hence when they were talking about going to Quentin's wedding, it was kind of like, well, has anyone to talked to Lance? Is he going? It was kind of up in the air because it was like we all coming together, but he's gonna have to come alone. What does that mean? What does that look like? And in that sense, it's like adapting to this new normal. And I think that might have been a lot for him initially, even going to the island. It was *[ inaudible 20:01] hence his excursions and extracurricular activities but that was his way of coping. That was his way of navigating and processing through his feelings of grief of wanting to have some type of attachment or connection with someone because he hasn’t had that.
Dr. Joy: I think it reminded me of one of my favorites cranes in the sky where he was trying to sex it away. So you know, I think to expand on your point, I don't even know that he was necessarily craving attachment. I think he just wanted to try to feel anything. Like it felt like he was very much in denial. I don't really want to deal with the fact that she's not here and so I'm gonna throw myself into all of these different sexual relationships, just to try to feel something or to really kind of numb the pain that I'm feeling from her loss. You bring up a good point, because I imagine that this probably was the first big friend group thing that they had all done since Mia had passed. And so the idea that now they are all even gathering for this big momentous occasion without somebody who was so incredibly important in their circle. So what did that mean for all of them, but also in particular, what did it mean for Lance? What were your thoughts, Kamron?
Kamron: I'm happy you asked. I looked at that part of the series and I was like I totally understand grief or I can understand wanting to feel something. But then there was just like that subtle part of me that was a little disappointed or a little like, why does he have to grieve in such a way, that a little bit of objectifying? Not even a little, like a lot of it. Especially when Murch and I think it was Murch and Harper walk in on him in the hotel room and he's got like three different ladies, two different, and I'm like, geez, back to back to back to back to back. When you juxtapose Mia and what she meant to him, to that depiction, it’s a little cringy. So I will say, I cringed at that part. I mean, again, Gorgeous, your explanation of it – it makes sense. I can understand and I can sympathize with it.
Gorgeous: And I think, essentially, grief was a lot. It played a lot into his role, just within the series. Even in connection to his son LJ, there was grief experience in that relationship dynamic too, in regards to who he wanted his son to be, that identity of wanting to pass down the legacy of football, and him following his father's footsteps. And then that not being the case. So it was like he was getting hit with grief in different ways.
Dr. Joy: I think we should then switch gears to talk about that storyline. I definitely wasn't expecting that but I am glad that they included it because I do think it is… I think the way that they included it is a typical, what you would see in a black friend group, like of the multiple different kinds of reactions. So we saw Jordan being like the cool auntie, like I got your back. If you need me to sit down and help you talk to your dad about this, I gotchu. Quentin trying to figure it out but mostly being very affirming. And it felt like I think an accurate depiction, and also like his dad not necessarily being on board in the beginning but eventually kind of coming around. What thoughts did you all have about the inclusion of that storyline and how it was portrayed?
Kamron: I personally thought that they did it really well. And I'll say the reason why is because I was watching this with my parents and we both were exposed to The Best Man franchise different times, you know. And obviously, we represent different generations as well but some of the minor details… Depending on who you are, some of the minor details that they address and they unpacked during that part were so well done to me. For example, when Quentin was struggling with the pronouns, that part was hilarious to us in so many ways because it's like a very real part of our culture right now. Especially when you're weighing that dynamic between one generation and the other one. So we were just laughing at that being just the reality of the situation. But then too, I was sort of laughing at my parents and was like, y'all got a hard time. I loved the way that they analyzed that and then they brought that to the forefront. And I think that it made sense to utilize Lance's character to be the person that went through that. Especially when you consider all of the other, kind of like you could say, maybe even toxic masculinity that was happening at the beginning of the series.
Dr. Joy: Good point.
Gorgeous: I agree with you as well, Kamron, in regards to how just the development was definitely head on and point on. I think one part that really stood out was when they were on the group FaceTime call. And so it's like this is the whole thing, everybody's in the know. And it’s, don't you tell him, don’t you tell him. And then the way he ends up finding out, everybody's, oh, now he knows. It was with shock and with disappointment because everyone knew but him. So it was kind of like, okay, do we tread the water of holding this because we feel like *[inaudible 25:13] LJ the chance to come upfront and tell his father. Or do we show up as friends and you know, take this role? So it was kind of like seeing how they navigated that. Because it's a real thing when it's very hurtful when everybody's in the know about something and then you're not in the know. And then you find out everyone knew, you feel betrayed. And so seeing kind of how they navigated it and it being such a significant thing when it comes to his son, I liked how they displayed that. And I also like how Lance met with LJ’s friend’s parents and had that sit down. So he could hear other parents’ experience. I think that showed a connection of community that's important, especially for parents who have children that are part of the LGBTQ plus community and they're having challenges figuring out what this means for them. So to hear another parent’s experience and perspective and see how they are navigating it was really good to see. Especially with another black family. I thought that was really good.
Dr. Joy: More from our conversation after the break.
Dr. Joy: I also loved how we saw a bit of the next generation of the circle in that LJ was so close to Quentin and Shelby's baby. It definitely reminded me of like my own friend group. A lot of us have kids the same age and so we're basically raising them as cousins, which is what this kind of felt like. That they had such a close connection. LJ clearly felt very comfortable being who they were with, Quentin and Shelby’s child. And so I really enjoyed that too and thought like, okay, so we're also getting to see how they are forming connections with one another in the wake of the close relationships that their parents have with one another. And we saw some of that with Candace and Murch’s children also, but it seemed like I think the ages are a little different, and so they weren't quite as close. But we definitely saw it between Quentin and Shelby’s child and LJ.
Kamron: I really appreciated how they paralleled Lance's perspective and position in both the original Best Man and then The Best Man series where he's out of the loop. And then like if you paid attention to the previous movie and here he is again exposed to a son– everybody knows about it, but he's out of the loop yet again. It just harkens back to that feeling of, oh my god, he's gonna be a mess. We don't know how he's going to be able to navigate this. And I really appreciated that juxtaposition. I thought it was really well done.
Dr. Joy: How did you feel about… And I saw this. To me, it was one of the worst kept secrets. It was very clear that they were gonna have some kind of low connection between him and the sister from the resort at the end. So how did you all feel about her kind of being the love interest as we wrap up the series?
Gorgeous: I think, for me, Dr. Joy, it was one of those things, it didn’t make or break it. I was like rooting for it, he needed it, but I wasn't against it. I wasn’t opposed of it. Especially because they hadn’t introduced any other character that he seemed interested in throughout the rest of the series. So it kind of like, okay, well, just to wrap things up, let's connect these two together. That’s kind of how I looked at it.
Kamron: I agree. I think that inevitably, when you have a series that has so much history, and all of these relationships and bonds have been fostered and developed, and then you bring this other character, she's new, and it’s not going to be the same level. To me, when you compare the level of history that we have with all of the other characters, it felt a little rushed. We could take it or we could leave it. Especially when she was engaged at the beginning and then later, all of a sudden, she's free and available. I understand it's all make believe, but that felt forced a bit.
Dr. Joy: Let's talk about my girl Jordan. So I feel like I probably was most disappointed with where we saw her. It definitely felt like she was stuck in some ways to me in who she had been in the 1999 premiere of the movie. I see y’all shaking your heads so maybe you feel similarly. What were your thoughts about where we saw Jordan and how we saw her in the series?
Gorgeous: I agree with you, Dr. Joy, in the sense of her seeming stuck. Because she was very career driven and focused then, and she was definitely that now. And it was to a heightened level to where it was practically she wasn't even putting herself in the care of herself first. Her assistant had to ask her like do you practice self care? Which I think was a good highlight for her to stop and pay attention to that she's just so driven on work, work work, and it was causing her to have health issues and scared she was taking medication. It was a lot going on there. And in the sense of her pursuing anything outside of her career, in the sense of relationship or just anything, it was just everything was driven towards work. And outside of that, it was like when she realized, okay, what else could life bring or have for me, she experienced a little bit about the grief of missed opportunities to have a different life, per se.
Kamron: I think Jordan’s character is super complex. Just out of respect to the series and everything, I will say this. I appreciated what Jordan represented from a mental health standpoint. I really do appreciate the fact that they brought up this concept of self care I think to a generation of folks that like we're still trying to get it together with self care. And, you know, connecting it to her migraines, I felt like that was good, that was powerful. I'm happy that they brought that to the forefront. I also think that Jordan had some wins and I appreciated the relationship that Shelby and Jordan had from a career standpoint, where she's putting her friend on. And just because the people in the room, the people at the table, didn't initially like Shelby on camera and they didn't like her story arc or whatever, Jordan didn't give up on her friend. I think that that's still a very, very, very important dynamic that people need to see. Is like more of that, a sister helping a sister out like that.
Where I just fall off a little bit or I just felt a little bit like… kind of rolled my eyes, was the Harper-Jordan saga still persists. She don't need him, she don't need that man. Like she, she is good, you know what I mean? And I almost wonder what it would look like, especially as so much of our audience, so much of the Therapy for Black Girls cohorts, looking at women who do not need to be with men. I almost really kind of wanted to see what it would look like if that wasn't a part of the narrative anymore. And I get, again, there's a legacy of that relationship that exists and we have to kind of analyze it. But I think 2023 is the time to kind of investigate whether or not she can just be whole without that.
Dr. Joy: Yeah. And I think that that's the part that felt stuck to me. It felt very much like 1999, early 2000s I think was when we were kind of first having these conversations around, can women have it all? Like black women especially, right? And it felt like she was still very much in that but sometimes it felt like, of course, she is this like VP level at NBC. But we also see her, like is she interested in a significant relationship or is she not, right? So we see the introduction of, to me he was Terry Silver because that's where I saw him last in Power, so I don’t even know what the brother's name was in this show.
Gorgeous: It is. Demetrius.
Dr. Joy: Demetrius, thank you. Thank you, Gorgeous. So we see the introduction of him and so it's, okay, are they gonna be serious? He makes some significant effort to try to fit himself into her schedule, but then that doesn't work out. And so in some ways, it kind of gave the impression that there was still a part of her that was holding a spot for Harper because we see them kind of flirt with, okay, are they going to try it again? That to me, I think was very confusing and unnecessary to, of course, get it. Because as OG fans of The Best Man, Harper and Jordan – are they, are they not? But I don't think it was necessary. I agree with you, Kamron, and I feel like she didn't to me feel as advanced as I think she could have for a 2022-2023 kind of character. So I think I was most disappointed, but huge love for Nia Long. I will watch whatever she is in, but I would have loved I think to just see a little bit more character development there with her.
Gorgeous: I will say this. I thought when she left her job, I felt like that was her stand, like I'm making my mark in the stands. That was powerful just to see her turn away and be able to do that. We sometimes feel like as women, when we’ve reached a certain level, we have to hold that. And it's like, no, I gotta stay up here because I'm gonna be the gatekeeper and bring other people on and other women. And she was just like, no, enough is enough, I have to choose me. So seeing her choose herself in that and walk away from it, I think was very eye-opening and a good pivot.
Dr. Joy: More from our conversation after the break.
Dr. Joy: Okay, so we can round it out with Robyn and Harper. So lots of lots of thoughts I think about them. What were your feelings around where we see Robyn and Harper and their baby now in the series? As opposed to, you know, he proposed at the end of the first movie. So we have now traveled with them through marriage and starting their family, different career moves. What were your thoughts around where we saw them in this series?
Kamron: I think the biggest thing, the word for Harper and Robyn was communication. I think that was just like the breakdown. And I don't know, that has been a theme in a lot of the concepts and storylines that I've been seeing and paying attention to in the landscape right now. It’s communication. Communication is key. And just from my perspective, I was really frustrated with Harper for not listening to Robyn in certain situations and instances when she’s talking about the type of poem she wants, and just other things. I was just like, man, if only he could hear what we hear, you know what I mean. They just fell out of communication with each other. And I think for it to be just that one thing makes it really sad. Had they only worked through that, maybe they would have still been together. Maybe not. Yeah, I would just definitely attribute that whole entire relationship to just a lack of communication.
Gorgeous: I agree with you on that, Kamron. I feel like communication was a thing. But then also, I felt like they develop and grow into two different people. Initially, who we saw them being in the first Best Man, like their dating dynamic and their early marriage, it was like, okay. In the second Best Man Holiday, that was like, okay, now I'm growing in this direction – which was for Robyn – and Harper was growing in this direction. Like we mentioned in communication, I don't think that they had that foundation to say where the two of them were growing and how it would impact the other person. Or what support would look like in each growth direction. And that made both of them maybe feel like one is not following up or supporting the other. As well as when they went to therapy, I feel like that was a huge thing and I'm glad that they showed them in therapy. The therapist highlighted how Robyn had a lot of things in her head that she thought she said that she never said and in that, no one can be a mind reader. And so that really played a huge disadvantage for Harper in being able to show up for her in how she needed to be supported or feel seen.
Kamron: There was an element to Harper’s character that was so frustrating to me. Which was like it was a little out of self-importance. Obviously, the entire series, the whole thing is built off of this book, and then this book that is going to become a movie. Oh my god. But at a certain point, I was like, Harper, get over yourself. Get over yourself. And to your point, Gorgeous, I was wondering if, yeah, he did change into a different person, but did he change so much that he became a person that can't listen to someone? It's like not in tune with another human being, someone that he's been with for so long. That's where I ultimately ended up. And that also, just to kind of tie it back to Jordan, I was like, yeah, it definitely doesn't make sense for him to then go over here. There's like an insecurity there, just like a self-importance there that he needs to work through before he goes to any of these characters that we have developed this connection to. Any relationship that he goes to now is not gonna work. At least that's how I felt with Harper at the end of the day. I did think the scene where all his boys come in there and support him, I loved that. That was probably one of my favorite scenes, despite my feelings for Harper toward the end. Because it was like, no matter how down bad you are, at least you have your boys, at least you have your support system, at least you have your community. But still, I was like, dang. He just cannot get over himself in a way.
Dr. Joy: Kamron, I would argue that self-importance really has been there with Harper since the first Best Man. So when I hear you say did he change that much, I feel like Harper is who Harper has always been. And I feel like, yes, communication definitely was a big issue between Harper and Robyn. And I agree with you, Gorgeous, I loved seeing the snippets of therapy because I think that is very real. Like when you are with your partner and you are imagining that you have said this thing and that they know this thing, and then the therapist asks you like have you said that? And it’s, well, no. Duh, so they don't know, right? I thought that was a very realistic picture. But I also feel like Harper and Robyn probably never should have gotten together. Because in some ways, as I look back on the 1999 original Best Man, and then where we saw Robyn in the final chapters, it always feels like she has been on the outside of the circle. And so even in a way that Candace and Shelby did not. Like they to me felt very much like they were in the circle, whereas Robyn always felt to me a more peripheral character.
In the first Best Man, we kind of see her, she comes to the wedding later. So after all this drama has gone on, and like she is trying to pull Harper together, like, okay, you gotta fix it kind of thing. So she's on the outskirts there. And then even in the Final Chapters, we see her kind of being the one at the house with the other kids while everybody else is out looking for LJ. To me, she has always felt like a supporting character, as opposed to like this is Harper. Harper is like almost central to the circle, but his partner feels outside in a way that I don't think she should be because of who Harper is. And so I also think that they probably shouldn't have gotten together because it doesn't feel like he has ever really gotten over this thing with Jordan. And so in a lot of ways, Robyn, it always felt was like a second place. And even though I'm sure day to day it didn't feel that way, in the moments that counted, it always felt like there was an opening for Jordan. I can't imagine, in my own relationship, feeling like I was not the first choice. I feel like that would take a toll on me. So I don't know, we didn't hear a lot of that with Robyn, but in a lot of ways it felt like that played out. Any thoughts there about like, okay, should they even have been together in the first place?
Gorgeous: You really hit the nail on the head with that one. Because if you think about it, essentially, she was kind of like third. Because Mia, he was in a big dynamic with Mia, then there was this dynamic with Jordan and then there was her. So literally, what space could she have in the inner circle when Harper had already had engagements and dynamics with the people within the circle? So it was like she didn't really stand a chance to have a space designated for her like Candace and Shelby because of his doings with the inner circle, within the foundation of the circle. It’s like her being an outsider, that's the only space I feel like she could have had for some sense of normalcy.
Kamron: And this is why I love creatives because both of y'all said outsiders. Like she was the outsider, she was on the outskirts – and then she goes abroad with her daughter, with her baby. And she literally is outside of it, she's as far away as she possibly can be. And so I think that part of that was very intentional on behalf of the writers to kind of make us feel that. Because I felt the same way. It was just like there's something out of place about Robyn’s character, can't really pinpoint what it is. Are they supposed to be together? And like you're questioning that the whole time and then eventually, it just culminates in her just saying deuces and leaving.
Dr. Joy: Okay, so let's talk about that. Because that I think was a lot of the conversation that I saw in our community and even otherwise on social. Was her making the decision to move to South Africa and take the baby. And we saw his friend group, which I was a little surprised by, honestly, rally around her making this decision and telling him stop being selfish for once and this kind of thing. So did y'all agree or not with her decision to move and take Little Mia with her?
Kamron: I thought it was a trump card, for sure. And I feel like it could have gone either way. I know that's sort of a cop out answer but I think for where their story ultimately ended, I think that I understand the choice that the writers made to have the baby go with her. Because it does, it marks this time in the stage where Harper has to be unselfish. He has to think of other people outside of himself. And I'm happy that it ultimately happened that way because I think that if it happened the other way, and he got to keep their daughter in the States with him, then I think all of us would be like, okay, did you learn anything? Whether or not I agree that she should have, like in real world and the real life, I'm not sure. I understand why that is a point of contention for sure.
Gorgeous: I think from a parental aspect as well as from a co-parenting, because *[inaudible 44:58] as well, I think that was a hard one. Especially in the sense of how impactful it was for him and for the both of them. I think that she was very driven on what this experience meant for her and what it looked like for their daughter, especially when they went over and visited for the summer and they had a good time and all of that. But in the sense of just the shift, I think that it could have been played out differently. I would have wanted it to look more cohesive, with them coming together in agreement. But again, you know, sometimes it don't happen that way. So I’m indifferent. I’ve got feelings on both ends.
Kamron: I also say that, to counter what I was saying earlier, that I think typically, or the majority of the time, we do see the situation where the mom wins out and ends up taking custody or ends up being the sole provider. So I feel like they perpetuated that narrative just a little bit. But again, in this particular case, I support it because of some of the stuff that Harper's character needed and some of the ways that Harper's character needed to develop.
Dr. Joy: So I did not like that angle at all. And I agree with you, Kamron. It definitely was the big joker, right? This was the, okay, I finally am doing something for myself, like I am going completely against anybody I have ever been in this relationship with this person. I thought that was harsh, though. Like you, Gorgeous, if that became the ultimate decision, I would have preferred to see some conversation about like, this is what I want to do, this kind of thing, and like for them to arrive to that decision together. As opposed to her taking the baby and like, okay, you just got to deal with it. And so, you know, it wasn't as if he was an uninvolved father. So I thought that was drastic and was very surprised to see the way that the friend group rallied around her. Like that to me didn't feel in character with who they had been to Harper before so it kind of felt like everybody was taking Nia’s side. But also maybe just felt bad for her because he has been so ridiculous the whole relationship. So I could also see why people felt like, okay yeah. You know, like hey, let her have this round. But to me that felt very drastic to move the child to a whole different continent without some discussion and for him to just kind of find out in that meeting. That felt very drastic to me
Gorgeous: Something that modeled though a lot of real life experiences where that happened in the sense of like Kamron mentioned that trump card. And so that probably connected with a lot of people's narratives while going through divorces or separations with families and children. Where there's one parent that just comes in and blindsides you essentially, and then what do you do? How do you deal with that?
Dr. Joy: So what are your feelings about where we have left off? Do you feel settled and complete? This is called the final chapters so I do not think we're getting any more, so do y'all feel complete with where we have left off with these beloved characters?
Kamron: For everyone but Harper and Jordan, I do. I think that they’ve sort of left the door open with Jordan’s character specifically. At least I want to hope so because, again, part of me wants to see her have it all. Like is she really just going to be this boss lady that isn't ever complete romantically? Or at least feeling complete, so like even if she's a single woman, tie that up for us – she's happy, right? She feels whole, right? Or if she's with someone, for me as it stands right now, there always will be that question of whether Jordan ever got what she deserves as a human being. That is just like wholeness and peace.
Gorgeous: I think for me I'm okay with how it ended, where the storylines ended for everyone. Because I think essentially it allows you to just accept who they are and their storylines and accept kind of where the story’s all in place for them individually. And sometimes we want that closure but we don't always get it so it's like having to accept that and just see it for what it is. For your case in point, Kamron, maybe we can envision Jordan’s outcome can look like this, it can look like this, it could be this. And maybe them leaving it open like that is for there to be like this whole there is no perfect ending. Whatever the ending is is what it could be. And then for Harper, his own character I think, again, the development of him having to grow and continuing to grow is kind of where it left off for me for him. But I think everybody else’s storyline, it ended and wrapped up well.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, I would agree. I feel complete with where we left this off. I don't feel like, oh, I would love to hear a 10-year reunion kind of thing. I feel like if we don't see these characters in this iteration anymore, that I feel good about where we kind of closed the door with them. So I agree with you both there. All right, thank y’all so much for sharing your thoughts with me. We will have to come back when we find a new favorite show to kind of deep dive into and discuss. Do you want to share your social media handles for anybody who wants to follow you or keep up with whatever you have going on?
Kamron: Sure. I am on Instagram @KamronNTaylor.
Gorgeous: I am on Instagram as well @FixingTheFixer.
Dr. Joy: Perfect, we'll be sure to include that in the show notes. Thank y’all again for joining me today.
Kamron: Thanks for having us.
Gorgeous: Thank you.
Dr. Joy: Shout out to Kamron and Gorgeous for sharing their incredible insight on this iconic and everlasting franchise. To learn more about them and their work, visit our show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/bestManFinalChapters. And don't forget to text the episode to two of your girls who you know enjoyed the franchise as well. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, be sure to visit our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory.
And if you want to continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis, and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. Thank y’all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.