Photo: Flickr/Tina Franklin/Adapted

Why Supporting Brooklyn Nine-Nine Is Noice and Smort

There are few things that touch me in the same way that FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine  does. Lighthearted and unafraid, shameless and uplifting, it characterizes much of what I love about television. Praised for its ability to examine relevant social issues, as well as connect said issues to the scope of its characters, Brooklyn Nine-Nine  will always hold a special place in pop culture and in my heart.

This glorious balance of comedy and realism sheds light onto the endearing humanity of the show, making it extremely relevant in today’s social and political landscape.

Ever since its first episode, the show has made it clear that it is unafraid of addressing problems of systematic oppression. Namely with the introduction of Captain Raymond Holt, a black, gay police officer. Holt’s narrative in the show innately deals with his struggle against homophobic and racial barriers as a police officer and in his personal life, while maintaining his integrity and staying true to his self-identity.

He is a character to be admired—the fair and disciplined captain, the dedicated and loyal husband, the tough-loving father figure of the precinct, and the representative of the struggle against inequality. His staunch sense of self, combined with his keen examination of injustice, makes him a revered leader of the Nine-Nine; however, this does not mean that Holt’s view of the world is so accurate that it blocks room for growth.

In one of the show’s most acclaimed episodes, “Moo Moo” (Season 4, Episode 16), Holt faces a conflict with his sergeant, Terry Jeffords. Terry, also a black man, wants to file a formal complaint against an off-duty officer who stopped him in his own neighborhood. With Holt’s initial stamp of disapproval, Terry has to accept the inevitability of defying his boss in order to satisfy his sense of right and wrong.

A conversation of honesty unfolds between Holt and Terry, addressing their points of difference—Holt’s commitment to defying prejudices by moving up the ranks, and Terry’s sense of morality that will require immediate action. Holt comes to acknowledge that his advice came from a different place at a different time, where he focused his energy on advancing in his career in order to make a change. Now, to choose to ignore this chance to stand up for victims of racial discrimination, “would be betraying the very thing that [he] worked so hard for.”

Not only does Brooklyn Nine-Nine  feature a nuanced portrayal of police brutality, racial profiling, and generational differences, it also subverts common stereotypes of other marginalized identities.

Holt’s relationship with his husband, Kevin, is presented as a normal marriage, in that they are uniquely compatible and devoted to each other despite several strains put on their relationship. In the words of Holt himself, “Love is like oatmeal. It sustains you.”  Oatmeal is commonly seen as plain and lackluster, but to Holt, its vitality means more to him than anything grand or excessive ever will.

The relationships of this show reflect that statement all around; these characters love each other, in all their flaws and all their scars, and if they are afraid to do so, they learn to give and accept love in their own terms.

Take Rosa Diaz, the residential badass of the Nine-Nine. Rosa struggles with allowing herself to be seen as vulnerable, but her emotional hardness is essentially a plate of armor that wears off as the show goes on. As part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s  defining moments, this is especially illustrated in her coming out as bisexual. She comes out to her friends at the precinct, who support and love her just the same, and to her parents, who saw it as a fleeting phase and shamed her for not conforming to their expectations.

Her declaration of “I’m not straight. I’m bisexual,” may seem simplistic on the surface, but that statement came from years of hard work that are built towards her becoming honest and comfortable with her sexuality.

Rosa didn’t distort herself to fit her parents’ narrative; she didn’t blame and belittle her bisexuality in the face of their rejection. Once they can find it in themselves to accept her for who she is, there will be a place in her life for them, but until that  happens she’s not going to apologize for this fundamental part of herself that she’s worked so hard to embrace. Rosa, who tries to reject any form of vulnerability, is at her most vulnerable and brave in becoming her fullest, truest self.

Holt, as per his fashion, said it perfectly: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place. So, thank you.” This sentiment is shared by many of those who watched Rosa’s coming out and personally recognized the stab of betrayal she felt at her parents’ unacceptance and skepticism.

Rosa’s bisexuality is an outstanding example among many in which the Brooklyn Nine-Nine  characters subvert expectations, both for the audience and other characters. At first glances, we may see Jake Peralta as an immature manchild—he became a cop out of his love for Die Hard; he says things like ‘noice’ and ‘smort’; he only has one towel in his apartment before moving in with Amy—but, he can be all these things while not falling into lazy stereotypes.

Jake is a resilient character; optimistic and loving, defensive and impulsive in all the best ways. His close friendship with Charles Boyle, someone seemingly opposite of his boyish and fun-loving demeanor, accentuates one of the show’s subtly celebratory qualities.

The male characters are allowed to be as vulnerable as the female characters. Wholesome male friendships like Charles and Jake’s aren’t commonly portrayed in media; Charles is emotional and openly affectionate (to the point of being overwhelming), and he isn’t afraid to show it; Jake, who is traditionally seen as the ‘cooler’ one, never resorts to belittling him.

There are no jokes targeting the men for not conforming to societal expectations; in the warm light of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, these strong personalities are allowed to express themselves and bounce humor off of each other.

Charles is a self-confessed romantic, an unabashedly adoring friend, and a bearer of intense feelings; Terry is outwardly masculine and strong, but also emotionally intelligent, paternal, and sensitive; Holt is loving and respectful of the Nine-Nine as much as they do him, allowing for him to change in ways that soften his rough edges.

It may feel understated since these characters are simply being themselves and nothing more, but this portrayal of multifaceted and sensitive masculinity is important.

The show understands that by capturing the unglamorous yet believable quirks of its characters, the story unfolds in a realistic and relatable way. This is certainly true in the case of Jake and Amy’s relationship, which lacks the melodramatic romance of a drama, but deals with the romantic struggles and triumphs found in real life.

They both respect and communicate well with each other, they are both willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of their relationship (Amy taking a leap of faith and showing up at Jake’s door to say that she wants to commit in a relationship, despite all of her earlier defenses), and when such sacrifices aren’t necessary, they both affirm the other (Jake reassuring Amy that she shouldn’t sacrifice her professional future for their relationship).

They don’t need drama or jealousy to be interesting and engaging because, first and foremost, they are a team built on mutual love and trust. This is the kind of honest, healthy relationship that should be portrayed on television more often, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine  does it beautifully with its mix of comedy and realism.

With Jake and Amy’s wedding and the appearance of Rosa’s girlfriend on the horizon, it’s obvious that fans are holding their breath. I have no doubt that the writers will deliver those episodes with warmth and wit, as they’ve already been doing for five seasons. Unfortunately, the future of the show is unsteady, as FOX hasn’t ordered a sixth season as of yet. The ratings are relatively poor compared to other FOX shows, averaging 1.7 million weekly viewers and a 0.7 demo rating through the first half of season five.

The future of Brooklyn Nine-Nine  can only happen if we pay it the attention it deserves through ratings, word of mouth, support towards the creators and actors, and conscious efforts such as pushing for it to be transferred to other networks (e.g., Hulu, which adopted another FOX show, The Mindy Project, after it was canceled). No matter the future of this show, it’s indisputable that it will be remembered for its powerful contributions to diversity in media, alongside its memorable characters and the strength they give to us on bad days.

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ENGAGE IN THE CONVERSATION

Why Supporting Brooklyn Nine-Nine Is Noice and Smort

There are few things that touch me in the same way that FOX’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine  does. Lighthearted and unafraid, shameless and uplifting, it characterizes much of what I love about television. Praised for its ability to examine relevant social issues, as well as connect said issues to the scope of its characters, Brooklyn Nine-Nine  will always hold a special place in pop culture and in my heart.

This glorious balance of comedy and realism sheds light onto the endearing humanity of the show, making it extremely relevant in today’s social and political landscape.

Ever since its first episode, the show has made it clear that it is unafraid of addressing problems of systematic oppression. Namely with the introduction of Captain Raymond Holt, a black, gay police officer. Holt’s narrative in the show innately deals with his struggle against homophobic and racial barriers as a police officer and in his personal life, while maintaining his integrity and staying true to his self-identity.

He is a character to be admired—the fair and disciplined captain, the dedicated and loyal husband, the tough-loving father figure of the precinct, and the representative of the struggle against inequality. His staunch sense of self, combined with his keen examination of injustice, makes him a revered leader of the Nine-Nine; however, this does not mean that Holt’s view of the world is so accurate that it blocks room for growth.

In one of the show’s most acclaimed episodes, “Moo Moo” (Season 4, Episode 16), Holt faces a conflict with his sergeant, Terry Jeffords. Terry, also a black man, wants to file a formal complaint against an off-duty officer who stopped him in his own neighborhood. With Holt’s initial stamp of disapproval, Terry has to accept the inevitability of defying his boss in order to satisfy his sense of right and wrong.

A conversation of honesty unfolds between Holt and Terry, addressing their points of difference—Holt’s commitment to defying prejudices by moving up the ranks, and Terry’s sense of morality that will require immediate action. Holt comes to acknowledge that his advice came from a different place at a different time, where he focused his energy on advancing in his career in order to make a change. Now, to choose to ignore this chance to stand up for victims of racial discrimination, “would be betraying the very thing that [he] worked so hard for.”

Not only does Brooklyn Nine-Nine  feature a nuanced portrayal of police brutality, racial profiling, and generational differences, it also subverts common stereotypes of other marginalized identities.

Holt’s relationship with his husband, Kevin, is presented as a normal marriage, in that they are uniquely compatible and devoted to each other despite several strains put on their relationship. In the words of Holt himself, “Love is like oatmeal. It sustains you.”  Oatmeal is commonly seen as plain and lackluster, but to Holt, its vitality means more to him than anything grand or excessive ever will.

The relationships of this show reflect that statement all around; these characters love each other, in all their flaws and all their scars, and if they are afraid to do so, they learn to give and accept love in their own terms.

Take Rosa Diaz, the residential badass of the Nine-Nine. Rosa struggles with allowing herself to be seen as vulnerable, but her emotional hardness is essentially a plate of armor that wears off as the show goes on. As part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s  defining moments, this is especially illustrated in her coming out as bisexual. She comes out to her friends at the precinct, who support and love her just the same, and to her parents, who saw it as a fleeting phase and shamed her for not conforming to their expectations.

Her declaration of “I’m not straight. I’m bisexual,” may seem simplistic on the surface, but that statement came from years of hard work that are built towards her becoming honest and comfortable with her sexuality.

Rosa didn’t distort herself to fit her parents’ narrative; she didn’t blame and belittle her bisexuality in the face of their rejection. Once they can find it in themselves to accept her for who she is, there will be a place in her life for them, but until that  happens she’s not going to apologize for this fundamental part of herself that she’s worked so hard to embrace. Rosa, who tries to reject any form of vulnerability, is at her most vulnerable and brave in becoming her fullest, truest self.

Holt, as per his fashion, said it perfectly: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place. So, thank you.” This sentiment is shared by many of those who watched Rosa’s coming out and personally recognized the stab of betrayal she felt at her parents’ unacceptance and skepticism.

Rosa’s bisexuality is an outstanding example among many in which the Brooklyn Nine-Nine  characters subvert expectations, both for the audience and other characters. At first glances, we may see Jake Peralta as an immature manchild—he became a cop out of his love for Die Hard; he says things like ‘noice’ and ‘smort’; he only has one towel in his apartment before moving in with Amy—but, he can be all these things while not falling into lazy stereotypes.

Jake is a resilient character; optimistic and loving, defensive and impulsive in all the best ways. His close friendship with Charles Boyle, someone seemingly opposite of his boyish and fun-loving demeanor, accentuates one of the show’s subtly celebratory qualities.

The male characters are allowed to be as vulnerable as the female characters. Wholesome male friendships like Charles and Jake’s aren’t commonly portrayed in media; Charles is emotional and openly affectionate (to the point of being overwhelming), and he isn’t afraid to show it; Jake, who is traditionally seen as the ‘cooler’ one, never resorts to belittling him.

There are no jokes targeting the men for not conforming to societal expectations; in the warm light of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, these strong personalities are allowed to express themselves and bounce humor off of each other.

Charles is a self-confessed romantic, an unabashedly adoring friend, and a bearer of intense feelings; Terry is outwardly masculine and strong, but also emotionally intelligent, paternal, and sensitive; Holt is loving and respectful of the Nine-Nine as much as they do him, allowing for him to change in ways that soften his rough edges.

It may feel understated since these characters are simply being themselves and nothing more, but this portrayal of multifaceted and sensitive masculinity is important.

The show understands that by capturing the unglamorous yet believable quirks of its characters, the story unfolds in a realistic and relatable way. This is certainly true in the case of Jake and Amy’s relationship, which lacks the melodramatic romance of a drama, but deals with the romantic struggles and triumphs found in real life.

They both respect and communicate well with each other, they are both willing to make personal sacrifices for the sake of their relationship (Amy taking a leap of faith and showing up at Jake’s door to say that she wants to commit in a relationship, despite all of her earlier defenses), and when such sacrifices aren’t necessary, they both affirm the other (Jake reassuring Amy that she shouldn’t sacrifice her professional future for their relationship).

They don’t need drama or jealousy to be interesting and engaging because, first and foremost, they are a team built on mutual love and trust. This is the kind of honest, healthy relationship that should be portrayed on television more often, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine  does it beautifully with its mix of comedy and realism.

With Jake and Amy’s wedding and the appearance of Rosa’s girlfriend on the horizon, it’s obvious that fans are holding their breath. I have no doubt that the writers will deliver those episodes with warmth and wit, as they’ve already been doing for five seasons. Unfortunately, the future of the show is unsteady, as FOX hasn’t ordered a sixth season as of yet. The ratings are relatively poor compared to other FOX shows, averaging 1.7 million weekly viewers and a 0.7 demo rating through the first half of season five.

The future of Brooklyn Nine-Nine  can only happen if we pay it the attention it deserves through ratings, word of mouth, support towards the creators and actors, and conscious efforts such as pushing for it to be transferred to other networks (e.g., Hulu, which adopted another FOX show, The Mindy Project, after it was canceled). No matter the future of this show, it’s indisputable that it will be remembered for its powerful contributions to diversity in media, alongside its memorable characters and the strength they give to us on bad days.

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