Brooklyn Nine-Nine Does Social Commentary Right

Posted by Mindy Gan & filed under Television.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has garnered plenty of attention in recent years for its humorous writing, heartfelt characters, and excellent representation. The show follows the staff of the NYPD’s 99th precinct, many of whom are women, people of colour, and/or LGBTQ+ people. Despite its comedic angle, Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s greatest strength is its ability to impart important messages about the struggles that minorities face and the realities of the oft-corrupt American police system.

One such memorable episode is Moo Moo from Season Four: Terry, a black police sergeant, is approached by a white police officer in his own neighbourhood because he was deemed “suspicious,” even though all he was doing was picking up his daughter’s toy. The episode sent waves throughout the Internet, especially for its conversations between Terry and Captain Holt, also a black man. Thanks to Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s lack of token characters, we are treated to interesting and nuanced conversations between people of the same “group” who have individualized personalities and opinions.

In its latest episode, The Puzzle Master, the show continues its solid depiction of societal issues. When Holt first comes across Olivia Crawford – the only female candidate vying for the same commissioner position as Holt – Gina goads him into trying to sabotage Crawford for his own benefit. In doing this, however, Holt learns that Crawford was only nominated for PR purposes and that the selection committee does not believe that the NYPD is ready for a female commissioner. And since the pool of candidates is limited to Holt, Crawford, and three near-identical old white men, Holt realizes that he and Crawford are not truly enemies. He reveals the selection committee’s bias in his speech, and the process of naming a new commissioner is postponed until it’s been redesigned to be more just.

He and Crawford definitely aren’t friends at the end of this, but they hold a grudging respect for each other that’s encouraging to see. Rather than tear each other down in the scramble to reach the top, this plotline shows that marginalized people should strive to be help each other on their individual journeys toward equality and respect. In doing so, there can only be more progress.

Amid rumours of a possible cancellation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues to impress week after week without losing steam. Its writing is always focused, funny, and acutely aware of the subtleties of the issues it chooses to depict. If you want a show that can make you laugh in the moment and think in the moments afterwards, then Brooklyn Nine-Nine is definitely not one to be missed.

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