An Ode To The Heartwarming Absurdity of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’
'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' has been cancelled, and your sadness is noted.
In the worst possible news, the eternal villains at Fox have announced they’re cancelling the delightful Mike Schur/Dan Goor comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. While we can only hope that a streaming service rescues the show from eternal death, it’s worth remembering exactly why this show is an important part of a healthy comedy ecosystem.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine fits in to the constellation of comedy shows that are both hilarious and utterly heartwarming, joining the likes of New Girl, or other Schur vehicles like Parks and Recreation and The Office. It’s an important distinction — These are whip smart comedies about characters who (mostly) like each other.
When it’s firing on all cylinders, Brooklyn Nine-Nine manages to carry off the rare feat of being the silliest, cleverest and most emotionally affecting comedy show on television. It’s not an easy formula to carry out, and not every episode manages to nail it each time.
But mostly it’s a goddamn revelation, and one of the best viewing experiences on television. Let’s take a look at exactly what makes it so perfect.
Like many of Mike Schur’s shows, the set-up is a workplace oriented ensemble of wacky characters, thrown together by the structures of their job. With Brooklyn Nine-Nine it’s a team of detectives (and an administrative assistant, I guess), and they do police stuff.
While the crime-solving aspect of the show gives it a certain focus and energy (which is something The Office slightly lacked with its setting in an inherently boring workplace), you wouldn’t call it a procedural parody. The joke is not that they’re a bunch of bad, fake cops. The joke is that a cobbled together unit of weirdos somehow works as a good crime-fighting team.
While it might seem that the show revolves around Andy Samberg’s handsome-doofus cop, Jake Peralta, it’s actually much more of an ensemble than that. Jake is honestly not the singular protagonist. More fittingly, you could say he exemplifies what the show is all about: he’s a silly, adult-sized child who absolutely loves his job. He’s also very good at it. He’s an avatar of the unbridled enthusiasm that powers the show.
As he says: “Eyes closed, head first, can’t lose!”
— Ali (@RoyMustang786) May 11, 2018
“First time back at the Nine-Nine. I really miss these people. The whole crew. Jake, Terry, bleugh. I forget all their other names.”
The above is a quote from Gina Linetti, the mean cat of the group, played by the hilarious Chelsea Peretti. Characters like hers are why the show works so well. She’s an absolute machine of hilarious quotes, a sometimes cruel commentary on everyone else, a force of perfect, narcissistic chaos. But she’s also given the chance to be more than that (when she wants).
The same is true of all the others in the team — when they need to be, they’re a two-dimensional gag (Terry loves yoghurt! Boyle loves Jake! Amy loves organisation! Diaz loves not expressing emotion! Captain Holt loves understatement). But they can easily wrap an entire episode around their complex emotional needs and desires.
Basically every character is iconic, especially the bit-characters. Jason Mantzoukas as Adrian Pimento, anyone? What a deranged masterpiece.
They’re developed characters, and the show explores that. Every single actor in the show is hilarious when given the chance to play and explore. The show wouldn’t be half as good without this perfect blend of talent.
Supportive Like A Bra
The heartwarming glory of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as sappy as this sounds, comes from the fact that everyone kinda loves each other. That’s not to say that there’s no conflict — that would be a ridiculous, bizarre representation of a workplace.
Most of the friction in the show comes from the bucket of odd characters being bounced against each other, and the navigation through those conflicts. A classic example is basically every interaction between classic clown Jake Peralta and the epitome of the “straight man”, Captain Holt. They clash over almost everything, but always come back to a beautiful level of respect.
There’s also a love story in the show — while not quite as iconic as Pam and Jim or Leslie and Ben, the journey of Jake and Amy is still pretty joyous.
The characters are all joyful to watch together, and that’s what makes this show tick along.
Title Of Your Sex Tape
It’s pretty important to remember that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a gloriously weird and funny show that isn’t afraid of truly leaning into a very dumb gag. Some of the feature episodes, such as the recurring Halloween competition, or the Jimmy Jab Games are just laugh-out-loud funny. The cold-opens at the beginning of each episode are legendary — watch this one below, it’s honestly one of the greatest moments in TV comedy.
The show is also famous for recurring gags, such as elaborate Wunch insults, or the perfect ‘name of your sex tape’ gag.
You can’t disregard the fact that despite being a silly love-fest, the show has also tackled some pretty big societal issues. Captain Holt’s arc as an out gay black man is both powerful and touching, and multiple episodes dive deep into the structural inequality he has had to deal with. There’s an amazing episode about racial profiling, which was really only possible because there’s actually more than one black cop on the show. Recently, Detective Rosa Diaz very classily came out as bisexual on the show, which set the internet ablaze with gratefulness at that kind of representation. It’s an important show!
Basically, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a rare unicorn of a comedy, which we will all be poorer for losing. Let’s hope someone rescues the it.
— giselle ? (@nataIyarostov) May 10, 2018
Patrick Lenton is an author and staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @patricklenton.