With season six of Brooklyn Nine-Nine dropping on UK Netflix, TV Critic Sian Allen reflects on what makes the show special
In May 2018, after five seasons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was cancelled by Fox. I spent most of the thirty hours that followed before its gracious resurrection by NBC crying and lying face down on a table during my frees at sixth form. It was a dark time. Luckily, the universe (okay, it was mostly Twitter) quickly decided that we all deserved at least a few more seasons of this beloved and brilliant cop show, and my mental wellbeing remained for the most part intact.
So why such intense grief at the prospect of this show ending? It is admittedly hard to condense into a few paragraphs, but I will give it a go. Brooklyn Nine-Nine follows the antics of the detectives of the 99th precinct of New York, led by the pop-culture-obsessed, wisecracking Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) as he clashes with the stony-faced, exacting Captain Holt (Andre Braugher). It is your average silly and wholesome workplace sitcom from co-creators Mike Schur and Dan Goor, who previously worked on Parks and Recreation. It is also one of the best shows on TV right now and arguably of all time.
For one, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is fantastically diverse. It does not fall into the trap of tokenism or surface-level inclusivity by having an LGBT character appear for a three-episode arc and then never be mentioned again. We learn that Captain Holt is gay from the very first episode, but his sexuality is never the subject of a joke – unless it is making fun of other people’s prejudices. Equally, it is not his character’s only defining trait, but still an important part of his identity. Further, the show tackles issues from racial profiling (‘Moo Moo’) to sexual assault (‘He Said She Said’) with delicacy and poignancy but not without humour. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is never preachy, and it never punches down.
It is the sheer amount of heart behind Brooklyn Nine-Nine that makes it the perfect comfort show. The core of that heart is the refreshing relationship between Jake and Amy (Melissa Fumero), who remain the most healthy, supportive and generally lovely couple currently on TV. As Brooklyn Nine-Nine reaches its seventh season, they have spent well over half the show’s runtime officially together – and yet they are as endearing and engaging to watch as ever, the writers feeling no need to introduce unnecessary drama in their relationship just to drive the plot forward. Their playful competitiveness and chemistry makes for endless fun, and the strong foundation of their friendship makes their big romantic moments even sweeter.
However, Jake and Amy are only one of many reasons why this show has such a strong, passionate fanbase. All of its characters are wonderfully well-rounded and easily likeable – Jake may be a Die-Hard obsessed wannabe action hero, but he’s also a feminist who loves Taylor Swift. Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) may be a terrifying tough badass, but she would also do anything for her friends. Every single combination of characters is fun to watch, whether it’s the evolution of Jake and Holt’s father-son relationship or Amy and Rosa’s sister-like bond. There is so much joy in watching this ensemble slowly grow into a family and develop into better versions of themselves as a result.
The setting of a police precinct also allows Brooklyn Nine-Nine more dramatic, compelling story arcs than most workplaces comedies (not that Parks does not make municipal government thrilling). The 99 have faced everything from scary mob bosses to corrupt commissioners, and Jake basically gets held at gunpoint every other episode. It also results in some seriously epic season finales and incredibly well-crafted episodes such as ‘The Box’, an intensive bottle episode that’s more like a three-man play in which Jake and Holt scramble to get a confession out of a suspect.
I could go on, about the amazing annual heist episodes or the iconic ‘I Want It That Way’ cold open. About the fantastic guest stars or the legendary theme song. However, as season six finally drops on UK Netflix and season seven stars airing on E4, you are probably better off just watching it and seeing for yourself just how brilliant Brooklyn Nine-Nine is. With a renewal for season eight already confirmed, I can happily report that you will not have to lie face down on a table for a while yet.