Brooklyn Nine-nine

“Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.”

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Hi everyone! I know it’s been an eternity but school and work have been nuts. Worry not though, I’ve still been reading and watching like a madwoman and have plenty to say and a few posts coming soon!

Aired: NBC, Fox | Air Dates: 2013-2021 | Number of Seasons: 8

I watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine in early 2022 after a series of re-watches left me in the mood for something new. Before I started it, I had only a vague idea that Andy Samberg was in the show, but knew nothing past that. I barely watched the first episode. I looked up from my phone around the time of Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt saying “Because I’m gay.” And then, I was interested. 

Of course, I wasn’t interested enough in rewatching the first episode so it did take me quite a while to learn everyone’s names. I’m not quite sure what convinced me that this show was funny. If I had to pick one moment though, it would be the first Halloween heist episode. The strict boss/immature employee is a familiar trope. The interesting part of Braugher’s and Samberg’s relationship is that fundamentally, they are the same person and the show wants its audience to see that it’s okay to navigate the world as they are. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. 

In the time since my first viewing of the show, I’ve rewatched B99 four times. Each time, I find myself learning something new about the characters and still laughing at jokes that, to others, would grow stale. Pilot episodes of sitcoms are usually not very strong and B99 is really not an exception but there is one line that gets me everytime (aside from Captain Holt revealing his sexuality): “Jacob Peralta is my best detective. He likes putting away bad guys and he loves solving puzzles. The only puzzle he hasn’t solved is how to grow up”. This line is said by Terry Crews’s character, Terry Jeffords and it’s an apt description of not only Jake, but also the show as a whole. The first season’s humor is relatively juvenile and focuses heavily on childish antics such as Jake’s and Amy’s bet and Jake constantly trying to skirt Holt’s strict office rules. The following seasons mature as the characters do; the audience sees the characters morph into (in the case of Amy, Charles, and even Rosa) more confident people and (in the case of Jake, Terry and Holt) people who are more entrenched in the real world. 

As the characters are fully fleshed out, the show gets the chance to lean into running gags and plotlines that focus on strengthening the friendships between the characters. Michael Schur – the creator – has a knack for ensuring that each character has a relationship with all of the others. This is an extremely character driven show for that reason. One of my favorite multi-episode plots is when Jake and Rosa attempt to bring down a corrupt cop only to have it turned against them. Not only does this show Jake’s and Rosa’s resilience, it also shows how dedicated all of them are to each other. Holt is willing to do anything for his detectives and so he does; Amy, Charles and Terry want nothing more than to have everyone together and so they work towards that. 

If it seems like I’m missing out by not talking about Gina, it’s because she’s not really my favorite character. That being said, I love her character all the same. Gina is a more traditional sense of comedic relief. Her comedy is centered around pushing boundaries (in that way, she and Charles are more similar than she would like to believe). Gina makes an effective pairing with Holt because she brings out his fun and less uptight side. While Gina isn’t always the center of the show, she is vital in the sense that she forces the squad to understand that being a detective doesn’t make them superior to others. She demonstrates this by winning one of the heists, going back to school, and creating a massive empire after she leaves the 99th precinct. 

There are two things that really cemented this show as one of my favorite sitcoms. The first is Jake’s and Holt’s relationship. As I mentioned earlier, Jake and Holt are two sides of the same coin. The difference between them is their situations. Jake is an outgoing, class clown-esque detective who also happens to be a heterosexual white male in a world full of them; Holt is a slightly reserved, loyal captain with a fantastic sense of humor who feels the need to hide because of the fact that he is a Black gay man who came up in a time where that wasn’t accepted. Holt has always felt like an outsider whereas Jake has never had to. But Jake isn’t oblivious and that’s what makes this relationship work. He knows that Holt has never truly felt like he belongs and that’s why – after understanding why wearing a tie means so much to Holt in the first episode – he works to ensure that Holt feels like part of the team. This doesn’t always happen perfectly as Jake is still extremely immature, but at his core, he is a good person who looks up to Holt. 

Their relationship helps them both grow in such fantastic ways. Jake starts off as an immature child-like human who doesn’t seem to understand that he can’t waltz his way through life by being funny and coasting off of natural talent. Under Holt’s mentorship, he turns into a strong, conscientious man who would do anything for the people he loves. Holt enters the 99th precinct as a desperate man. He has always wanted his own squad and now that he finally has it, part of him fears that they won’t accept him just like those before him didn’t. Jake proves him wrong. Jake proves that despite his lack of maturity, he understands where Holt comes from and he works to show Holt that this squad is a place where they’ll respect him and care for him as he is and this helps Holt open up. Underneath his stern exterior, Holt is just like Jake – overdramatic and hilarious – and they both show each other how to navigate the world. 

The second thing that made me love this show is the inversion of stereotypes. People in the LGBTQ+ community are often shown to be flamboyant and over the top despite the fact that they are human and have a distinct personality just as anyone outside the community does. The two characters who identify as part of that community are stern and straight-laced while those who don’t identify as part of that community are over the top and exuberant. They also handle one character’s coming out with such tenderness that I had to put that quote at the top of this post; it’s my favorite line in the show. The show also slides in interracial couples and deals with issues of racism, sexism, and (albeit a little clunkily) the Covid-19 pandemic and police brutality. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is self-aware and reducing it to “just another police show” detracts from all the wonderful things the show aims to do.

There are 153 episodes of B99; each episode is roughly 22 mins and the total run time of the entire show is around 56.1 hours. Having watched this show four times before writing this, I’ve spent 224.4 hours with these characters and in this environment and each time I come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my stomach. I look forward to the Halloween heists and I still laugh like a maniac at jokes that I’ve heard several times. At its core, this is a show about family and I have to say, it’s a family I’m so happy to have found. 

RATING: 10/10

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