July Watches: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

More often than not, TV has disappointed me these last few years.

My favourite shows have either been cancelled—e.g. Marvel’s Agent Carter and Cracked—or just lost their spark for me, like The 100 (which I had previously considered my all-time favourite show. I’m kind of wary now of starting new shows, because I don’t want to see them fall apart, or watch in dismay as they get canceled.

But Brooklyn Nine-Nine changed that.

I’ve never binge-watched a show before, but I finished all four seasons on Netflix within about a month (which is a little shameful looking back on it). Almost every night, my mom and I would sit down and watch a few episodes and laugh. I’ve never really gravitated towards comedies, but Brooklyn was perfect for me.

Jake Peralta is one of the best ‘lead’ characters I’ve come across. Guys in sitcoms can sometimes come across as sleazy and slightly problematic, but Jake, despite being a ten-year-old in a thirty-five-year-old’s body, is explicitly feminist and socially aware—all the while still being hilarious and lovable. He’s a straight Jewish man who punches a homophobe in the face and calls BS on the “sometimes boys just need to be boys” excuse. He’s messy, childish, and ridiculous, but he’s one of the best male leads I’ve seen on TV in a while.

The diversity on the show is incredible, too. Not only do you have Jake, the aforementioned Jewish lead character, but the show also includes two Latina women and two black men (one of whom is gay), and it does it without exaggerating the point.

It’s a perfect example of how diversity should be effortless in TV. Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s diversity is just there, sans-stereotypes, and without any of its character being defined by their ethnicities. Terry is a super-muscly black dude who refers to himself in third-person and is a huge teddy bear; Captain Holt is the gay, black head of 99 who almost never changes his facial expression, is a super-fan of a concert oboist and has the binders behind his desk arranged like a rainbow. Amy Santiago is a huge nerd with all her ambitions planned out and a competitive streak a mile wide. Rosa Diaz is a leather jacket-wearing, knife-carrying badass with the softest heart for those she cares about. Every single character on the show is multidimensional and quirky and a little flawed, and I love all of them.

One of the best parts of the show is watching the characters develop. Jake, forever childish at heart, slowly becomes more and more responsible, especially in his relationship with Amy, and less afraid to show emotion. Boyle becomes confident and (more) independent. Amy becomes less rigid about rules and learns to stand up to her boss every once and a while. Gina becomes a tiny bit nicer. Holt relaxes to the point where he’s barely recognizable from the robot of season one. Terry is given more backstory and geeks out. Hitchcock and Scully… well, they’re basically the same, even though Hitchcock has his moments (“Get woke, Scully!” is still one of my all-time favourite lines) and Scully now has a girlfriend.

And the thing is, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is funny. I can’t count the number of times it has made my mom and I cackle like crazy. Holt’s deadpan humor—always so well-delivered—never fails to get me going. Jake’s dumb jokes crack me up. I find Adrian’s eccentricities and Gina’s in-your-face personality hilarious. Even Terry and his obsession with yogurt can make me laugh. Sure, sometimes the humor is easy—there’s a farting scene in season two that made me howl—but it’s never cheap. It never feels too forced, and it never feels sleazy.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy show, but it’s also not afraid to talk about things that are serious. In season two, Jake stands up to the father who left him when he was a kid and keeps disappointing him as an adult by telling him not to contact him until he wants to be in Jake’s life. When Adrian re-joins the force after twelve years undercover, we see him struggle to readjust, dealing with identity issues and PSTD. And in season four, there’s an entire episode about racial profiling that handles the issue pretty damn well for a half-hour cop comedy.

Brooklyn isn’t a masterpiece by a long shot, but it makes me laugh, doesn’t pull any punches, and I genuinely enjoy seeing all the characters grow.

And because of that cliffhanger, I’m sure as hell pumped for season five.

I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine. It's funny, well written, and doesn’t pull any punches. Here's why you should watch it too.
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Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated in any way with Brooklyn Nine-Nine or FOX in any way, nor do I own the base images used in this post.

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