The all-star cast is back for their last run in The Best Man: The Final Chapters, an 8-part episodic series streaming on Peacock. Here, the friends you first met in Malcolm D. Lee’s directorial debut, The Best Man — the ’90s hit that spawned the franchise — face their toughest challenges yet.

After we last partook of their loaded holiday shenanigans in 2013’s The Best Man Holiday, we meet on a tropical island for yet another wedding, this time between Quentin Spivey (Terrence Howard) and his fiancée of many hats, Xiomara Amani (Nicole Ari Parker). Everything’s running the opposite of smooth for the friend group, until the infamous Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) crashes the wedding.

With Shelby and Quentin’s long-awaited love/hate relationship cumulating in a surprising marriage (leaving the scorned ex-fiancée to an arson-fueled tour), the crew returns home to New York City, where the real adventure begins. Harper Stewart’s (Taye Diggs) award-winning book, Unfinished Business, which recounts the tumultuous tales of his undergraduate experience, is about to become a film. This news takes the tight-knit group by storm and unveils a host of emotions long relegated to the past. Still, their familial bond never seems to truly falter, and they hold each other up alongside the film’s debut just as they do through grief, school, divorce, career pivots, raising children, and health concerns.

In this much-anticipated reboot, comedy takes an appropriate backseat. This time, though still helmed by Lee (with Dayna Lynne North co-creating), the plot includes an array of swelling societal issues, from sexual assault to police misconduct to LGBTQ identity mishandling. 

Lee utilizes his handle on these topics to evaluate how his characters were last situated in the first two installments, being sure to apply a contemporary outlook and resolutions that leave audiences with no unanswered questions or stones unturned. So yes, our beloved will-they-won’t-they romance between Harper and his suppressed crush, Jordan Armstrong (Nia Long), has finally come to a satisfying close. Murch (Harold Perrineau) and Candace (Regina Hall) resurrect their familiar comedic relief roles and take on arguably the most compelling plot line in the series. And of course, the gang comes out alright.

Your chosen family will be your greatest gift of all. The Best Man: The Final Chapters showcases the unique bond between a group of friends that yields acceptance, love, and mobility in the face of hardships. Though this latest installation of the franchise moves away from comedy and into heavy, dramatic plot points and developments, this theme of family and its value still reigns true.

Depicting the nuances of the Black familial community, Black female strength, and the characters’ ability to shift with adversity, Lee has recaptured the magic of the ’90s original franchise while handling societal issues glossed over in the first installments. As an artist who has matured alongside the industry, his combination of comedic relief and acknowledgment of varied inequities provides a representation critical for more diverse film and entertainment to come.

Don’t fret, the usual entertainment and laughs are still plentiful, between humorous images of Morris Chestnut competing in the NFL with those half his age and Regina Hall’s infectious one-liners that will have you squawking in amusement. The return of the lovable, mischievous, and comedic force that stole the show in the ’90s makes the series worth enjoying, despite the mountainous weight of their new emerging hardships. As it is, the unfinished business of Harper Stewart’s life has finally found a concluding chapter. Let’s just hope we get a fair warning if he decides to open up a Pandora’s box of a feature film sequel!

The Best Man: The Final Chapters premieres on Dec. 22 on Peacock.

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