Have you heard of Fox’s newest addition to its comedy lineup, “Brooklyn Nine Nine”? Surprising viewers, critics and even actors themselves, this show recently won two Golden Globes, beating out long-standing darlings like “Parks and Recreation,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Modern Family,” and there’s a reason why. I know we’re all busy people, running around this campus trying to maintain some pretense of order in our lives, but if you have half hour to spare, introduce yourself to this show — you won’t regret it.
Andy Samberg stars as the endearingly obnoxious Detective Jake Peralta of Brooklyn’s fictional 99th Precinct, who chafes under the authority of no-nonsense supervisor Captain Holt, played by Andre Braugher. This show takes numerous comedy and cop show tropes and pokes affectionately at them, becoming funnier in its recognition of their absurdity and pervasiveness. It’s incredibly self-aware, evolving from episode to episode and never forgetting to laugh at itself. This comes as no surprise, with workplace comedy masters Michael Schur and David Goor as co-creators; fans of “The Office” will recognize Goor as Dwight’s insane cousin Mose, but he also created “Parks and Recreation,” where he and David Goor worked together to craft one of the funniest shows on television. Combined, the two are a comedy powerhouse.
This shows itself not just in witty situation comedy and zingy one-liners, but also in the supporting cast, who are less background to Samberg’s antics and more stars in their own right. Terry Crew’s Sergeant. Terry Jeffords (of Old Spice commercial and action movie fame) is a brilliant spin on his macho persona, as an incredibly buff and badass yet emotional supervisor who would rather work a desk job than be out in the field because he worries about leaving his twin baby girls alone. Melissa Fumero plays the over-compensating Detective Santiago, always eager to win Captain Holt’s approval and prove her ability to be “one of the boys.” She stands in refreshing contrast to the other female detective on the show, Stephanie Beatriz’s Rosa Diaz, an enigmatic and assertively hostile woman who defies the need for explanations for her aggression (where male characters need no backstory for their harsh view of the world, female characters almost always seem to need a sob story to explain what made them tough and emotionless.) Joe Lo Truglio plays Charles Boyle, an endearingly clumsy workhorse who pines after Rosa from afar (with no chance of ever winning her affections) and writes the only food blog in New York that takes the mouth-feel of food into account. The side-splittingly hilarious Chelsea Peretti, who has been hailed as the next Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, plays Gina Linetti, the nut-job secretary whose surprising insights help the precinct time and time again.
“Brooklyn Nine Nine” also stands out for the diversity of its cast. The detectives and staff of the 99th precinct are a mix of ethnicities and genders that reflect the reality of both Brooklyn and America at large in a way that most mainstream media continues to resist. What’s striking about this diversity is that it stands simply as fact, uncommented upon, never used as the butt of a tasteless joke about political correctness or trotted out by the writers as a selling point.
Addressing social issues and breaking stereotypes with delicate poignancy, without resorting to off-putting sermonizing, or losing humor, is another one of Nine Nine’s strong suits. Jeffords presents us with a new image of masculinity, where he can both be the cop who does pull-ups in his sleep and tackles gun-toting criminals, and simultaneously the man who worries about his two little girls and breaks down crying after hours spent trying to build them a princess castle. Santiago shows that a woman can be nervous and still be just as good as the boys. Diaz is as brash and tough as any of the men (and certainty more than some of them) but never gets played off as a pushover. Captian Holt is a nuanced portrayal of a man in power trying to prove himself, sidestepping the stereotypes that unfortunately often come with playing a gay character. “I’m not playing a gay police captain,” said Braugher in an interview with NBC news “I’m playing a police captain who happens to be gay. The distinction is large in my mind. The gay police captain is eventually going to be wearing hot pants and singing ‘YMCA.’ The police captain who happens to be gay is going to be a huge collection of personality characteristics and motivations.”
With an incredible cast that puts its all into portraying the characters in a truly human light while maintaining the humor and directors who know what it takes to make a a workplace comedy shine, “Brooklyn Nine Nine” is not a show you want to miss.