‘Brooklyn 99’ is the beautiful second child of Parks & Recreation showrunner Mike Schur. It’s now in it’s third season and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down (thank god). As well as being terrifically funny, ‘Brooklyn 99’ grabbed my attention due to its devotion to diversity within the show. Unlike a lot of shows that are set in New York (Friends, HIMYM, Frasier etc I am definitely talking to you), B99 recognises and replicates how diverse that part of the world is. It’s pretty refreshing and feels unique in the comedy circuit. The more I watched of B99, the more I fell in love. In amongst the hilarious jokes and witty banter are genuine, flawed, weird and lovable characters.
So here’s 7 reasons why you should probably be watching it, if you’re not already…
One of the only comedies which accurately represents real life
As I said, a big appeal for me with B99 was the fact that we get to see a wonderfully diverse cast on our screens. Captain Raymond Holt (the boss man) is gay and black, Amy Santiago and Rosa Diaz are both Latino, Terry Jeffords (the Captain’s second in command) is also black. Far from reverting to the usual cast of white people in New York, Schur & Goor choose to represent Brooklyn’s police department as it would probably look like in real life. It’s also full of reminders about the low income that the police department generally have to work on especially with Jake and Boyle’s characters. Boyle mentions several times that he lives in his ex-wife’s basement (and that she is his landlord) and Jake is constantly in debt to others whilst living in an awful apartment. Whilst these do factor as great punchlines, it is refreshing to see a show where the main characters are struggling to live in a big city… because that is normal! Unlike ‘Friends’ who somehow thought Rachel could live in a beautiful NYC apartment whilst working at a coffee shop. Mate.
B99 also details all those crazy and unique people you will work with in your adult life and especially how they all have different ambitions. It’s not plain sailing by any means for those working in the precinct. Some do barely any work, and are just happy to go home at the end of the day without contributing (Scully & Hitchcock) and some are determined to rise to the top at any costs (Amy). It also does a pretty good job of showing how none of us ever really feel ready for responsibility. Basically it’s a great show to watch in your twenties.
All of its characters are lovable and wonderful human beings
* Okay, we do laugh at Scully and Hitchcock, but the show makes it very clear that these are two gentlemen who are very self confident and don’t care if they are being laughed at. Rather portraying them as pathetic and the butt of jokes, they are pretty self assured guys who are just a bit strange. A lot strange.
It’s filled the Parks & Rec shaped hole in our hearts
2015 was a pretty hard year for me, almost entirely due to the final season of Parks & Recreation. I’ve only recently stopped crying. Of course, I started watching Brooklyn 99 before the end of Parks & Recreation, but it’s only now that I realise how each Parks character is slightly mirrored within the 99. Jake Peralta is basically the best case scenario if Andy Dwyer was actually accepted into the police force. Amy Santiago is Leslie Knope who (if you can believe it) is more married to her job. Captain Holt is the alternative-universe Ron Swanson (I would love a spin off series where they meet, holy shit) and Gina is Tom Haverford. It just works. In fact, there are two Jerrys/Garys/Larrys in Hitchcock and Scully. Rosa Diaz is April Ludgates older, more moody cousin…anyway I’ll stop, you get the picture.
It’s great because the shows have a very similar format in their whole ensemble cast, funny with a sentimental message style and it’s so nice to watch something that feels familiar but with a different edge.
The Jimmy Jabs
Briefly, the Jimmy Jabs is a game which the detectives play in their office whenever the senior management team leave them on their own. It’s great, it’s messy and it made for a hilarious episode in season 2.
More than just really enjoying that episode, the Jimmy Jabs actually gets to the root of why Brooklyn 99 is so funny. The setup of a police department enforces pretty strict hierarchies. It’s almost like being back at school. They have to behave well, be there on time, get results and dress smartly. It’s a situation which we can all relate to – resenting authority. Even though it’s clear that each character does actually enjoy their job (except for perhaps Gina), the immaturity and juvenility is hilarious to watch because there is such a hierarchy. And they really should be behaving themselves.
Terry Crews & his beautiful subversion of gender
I don’t want to play favourites, but Terry is an amazing character. Truly, all the characters are golden rays of sunshine but there’s something super awesome about Terry. Yoghurt eating, muscle building, dancing, singing, beautiful Terry. The thing about Terry is that his character subverts every stereotype that we may imagine. He enjoys going to the gym, building his (already rather large) muscles and eating healthily. But he is also fantastic at drawing, loves farmers markets, is incredibly sensitive and a wonderful father to his two baby daughters – Cagney & Lacey.
Terry is hugely supportive of all of his co-workers (like in season two when he decides to dance with Gina at a dance competition because her dance troupe kicked her out) and is also completely emasculated. He doesn’t care for your gender stereotypes. When we are first introduced to Terry, he is recovering from a shooting incident during a previous arrest and is too scared to go back out on to the streets. B99 allows Terry to be supported by his co-workers, not be ridiculed and ‘feminized’ by his fear of being shot.
Fab female characters
Ah. My favourite part of Brooklyn 99. We have, before us, three fantastic female characters. Gina – our cynical, vain, self-centred dance queen. Gina cares for herself, is lazy and doesn’t like anyone. Except herself. She’s utterly hilarious with her scathing put downs and I need to get my hands on a ‘Time for Gina’s Opinion’ gold sequined hoodie. The thing about Gina is that she does care (a tiny amount) and we can see this with the slow build up of her and Amy’s friendship. She also cares about the department, and is incredibly active in her pursuit to stop Terry from leaving.
Then we have Amy – a career driven, by the book detective. She admires (or rather, obsesses over) Captain Holt, but not in a romantic way. Amy is focused on becoming Captain, she is determined to prove herself. Amy is also quite insecure, and is equally determined to prove to her fellow colleagues that she does know how to have fun too. We all have a bit of Amy inside us.
Finally, Rosa – cold, aggressive and actually terrifying. Rosa has a soft side which is sort of seen when she begins dating Marcus (Captain Holt’s nephew). Fundamentally though, Rosa is kickass and has the best ‘don’t mess with me attitude’ on television.
What is so important about these three women, though, is that they are all fully realised characters. It would be so easy to pigeon hole any one of them as a love interest or a side character or to keep them as one dimensional stereotypes – Gina the bitch, Amy the geek and Rosa the aggressor. B99 side steps this widely, however, and it’s a better show for it.
It doesn’t trivialise issues that matter
I’m glad B99 doesn’t shy away from these super important issues just because it’s a comedy. These gentle nudges are exactly why Brooklyn 99 manages walk that thin line of funny but also fantastic as a social commentry.
Also, best theme tune ever?