Courtesy: Fox


Why 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' Needs to Keep Going

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.

Luckily, the show was saved the following day by NBC, as the series is produced by that network's sister studio, Universal Television. And perhaps in hindsight, this twist doesn't come as a complete shock, as we've entered an era of television resurrection: Nothing dead stays buried on the small screen, whether that means TV characters (Jon Snow's resurrection gasp wasn't even the most shocking moment of the season) to TV shows (from the nostalgia-fueled '90s reboots, to The Mindy Project's second life on Hulu). Also helping Brooklyn Nine Nine's cause were high-profile fans like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mark Hamill tweeting their disappointment over the Nine-Nine's departure. But while superfans will always rage online when their show finally takes its final bow (there will be an outcry, some day in the distant future, when the plug is finally pulled on the 27th season of The Big Bang Theory), Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that deserves this second life, for the wonderful way they presented a diverse set of characters without ever getting condescending or preachy.

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.

While Holt's coming out moment happens decades before the show started, Rosa Diaz's (Stephanie Beatriz) coming out as bi earlier this season was one of the show's landmark moments, tackling unsupportive parents and dueling desires to keep your personal life personal and be seen and accepted for who you truly are. But while many shows today can nail a coming-out story, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has woven Rosa's bisexuality casually into other episodes, notably a recent arc that had her coworker excited to set her up with a woman that ends with a successful hook-up, showing nothing about the character changed even as her acceptance of her own sexuality evolved.

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.


Molly Horan
Molly Horan
Writer, contributor
View Profile

Explore Categories