When a show has run long enough, especially a sitcom, it gives its fandom enough reaction GIFs to describe the entire gamut of feelings any new episode can inspire. So when Brooklyn Nine-Nine fans got the news on Thursday that the beloved Fox show had been canceled, there were more than enough GIFs and clips of Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) screaming, Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) flaming out and even the ever stoic Capt. Holt (Andre Braugher) announcing that this decision is complete garbage.
The show's pilot, as shaky as most modern sitcoms are in the beginning, quickly established the show as a series that would present LGBT characters as multi-dimensional people, not defined by their sexuality but not hiding from it either. When Holt informs a few of his new detectives he's gay, a series of flashbacks show he was never covering his sexuality up (a newspaper article touting a professional achievement that mentioned he's gay is hanging in his office). But though he's a proud gay man, the moment is also the first of many instances when the show examines the challenges he faced in the '70s and '80s as a gay and black cop. Flashbacks throughout the series use the absurdity of those eras' pervasive racism and homophobia for laughs, but never undermine just how hard it would have been for the character to rise through the ranks.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that deserves a second life, for the wonderful way it presented a diverse set of characters without ever getting condescending or preachy.
Maybe the closest the series ever got to a "very special episode" was last season's "Moo-Moo" that dealt with the aftermath of Detective Jeffords (the always fantastic Terry Crews) being stopped by a fellow cop in his own neighborhood, obviously the victim of racial profiling. Not only did the episode delve into Jeffords' own feeling through a conversation with Holt, a fellow black cop who faced racial discrimination and homophobia throughout his entire career, the episode also had Jake and Amy faced with the process of trying to explain racism (and sexism) to Jeffords' two small daughters. Beyond their treatment of characters often seen as "other" on sitcoms, Brooklyn Nine-Nine never allowed members of the LGBT community, people of color or any other marginalized group to be the butt of the joke, but instead made bigotry and bigots themselves the thing to be laughed at.
In a world where The Jersey Shore lives to projectile-vomit another day, it seems impossible that a show that delivered 22 minutes of jokes while presenting a diverse cast that was never reduced to their most stereotypical form, almost joined the ever-growing list of shows canceled before their time. But even had Brooklyn Nine-Nine ended with this season's finale (and an epic Jake and Amy wedding), it would have left a permanent and positive mark on the television landscape, proving to showrunners and viewers that a sitcom can deal will real issues, while landing some of the best Backstreet Boys-related humor ever seen on TV.