Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
 

‘Noice’ and ‘Toit’: The Comfortable Pleasure of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’

Hey folks, Travis here.  Now that our anniversary is here, I’m going to try to post here more often.  I’ll start by talking about one of the TV shows getting my girlfriend and me through the COVID quarantine blues, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is about the members of a Brooklyn police precinct and the shenanigans they get up to.  Led by Jake Peralta, played by Andy Samberg, an overgrown man-child who loves Die Hard and often punctuates a conversation with an interjection of “title of your sex tape” (a la when someone says: “that’s not how holes work”, he repeats the line and adds “title of your sex tape”), the squad gets up to plenty of hijinx in solving crimes and making Brooklyn a safer place.  The squad includes the supervisor Terry Jeffords, played by Terry Crews, who’s a big muscular lover of yogurt, father of three girls, and a general big softy who refers to himself in the third person; Rosa Diaz, played by Stephanie Beatriz, a tough motorcycling badass who has secret soft spots of her own, as well as surprising things in her background; Amy Santiago, played by Melissa Fumero, an uptight personality who loves to organize and lives to please her superiors; Charles Boyle, played by Joe Lo Truglio, a sycophant of Jake’s who is a big foodie and says things that are disturbingly sexual without noticing he’s doing it; Hitchcock and Scully, played by Dirk Blocker and Joel McKinnon Miller respectively, the old timers on the job who are more than content to stay at their desks and hang out in the break room by the vending machines; and Gina Linetti, played by Chelsea Peretti, the childhood friend of Jake’s who serves the Nine-Nine as a secretary and also, as she says in one episode, is kind of “a rascal”.

However, the secret ingredient of the show is Andre Braugher as Captain Raymond Holt.  He’s a stone faced, taciturn man who, as the series has progressed, will occasionally loosen up and show a hilarious, bitchy side.  He also happens to be a gay black man who has worked his way up through the ranks over his career despite facing racism and homophobia.  His husband Kevin, played by Marc Evan Jackson (also known for playing Shawn on The Good Place and Mary Anne’s dad on the new Baby-Sitters Club), is also taciturn and the interactions between the two are hilarious.  I’m amazed in looking at the imdb page for the show that Kevin has only been in 14 episodes, as it seems like he’s more prominent.  Anyway, Holt is hilarious when he is his usual self, because of things like his favorite breakfast food being dry toast, and also when he’s a bit saucy, like when his dog Cheddar, an adorable Corgi, is replaced in the course of the Halloween heist, and he says to the fake, “you’re not Cheddar, you’re just some common bitch.”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is hilarious and comfortable.  While the seven seasons have had plenty of changes over the course of the series, with things like Jake going undercover with the mob, Jake going to prison after being framed by dirty cops, Jake going into Witness Protection after a mobster was trying to blackmail Holt for help that got Jake out of prison, and so forth, you can dip into the series at almost any point and enjoy the interplay between the cops and their personalities.  There are also recurring gags like the annual Halloween Heist, where the group attempts to steal a valuable item from the rest of the group and each year the ante gets upped in new and hilarious ways; Holt’s clashes with Chief Wuntch, played by Kyra Sedgwick, which are filled with tons of hilarious put downs on both sides; the recurring character of Pimento, played by Jason Mantzoukas, a cop who was undercover with the mob for years and has had way too many head traumas that haven’t been dealt with either medically or therapeutically; and Doug Judy, the Pontiac Bandit, played by The Office’s Craig Robinson, a criminal Jake clashes with nearly annually and who has essentially befriended Jake despite fooling him repeatedly regarding his claims that he’s turning away from crime.  There’s also the great episode where we find out about Hitchcock and Scully in the ‘80s, and how they ended up the way they are today.  And the episode where Jake and Holt interrogate a dentist accused of murder is a fine bit of acting that showed that Jake actually is a good detective.

It’s interesting to me that this is a show where the ostensible star is, to me, the weak link of the show.  I know that everything hangs on Jake and he’s the sun that the rest of the show revolves around, but I wasn’t a fan of Andy Samberg and I still haven’t fully warmed up to him or the character.  However, he has improved over the seasons.  Another thing that I’m not a huge fan of is that Jake and Amy eventually get together, fall in love, date, get married, and in the most recent episode, have a child.  I never quite understood the relationship between the two, because Jake and Amy are such polar opposite personalities, with Jake being a man-child who lives life by the seat of his pants, while Amy is an uptight type A person who needs to plan everything.  Love conquers all, I guess?

Another bit of Brooklyn Nine-Nine that I don’t find to be the best is that when they deal with real world situations, it comes off as a bit too heavy-handed, as when Amy reveals her #MeToo moment to Jake, or when Rosa gets caught in a hostage shooting situation, and the handling of the issue is a little too glib.  I’m wary of any episodes that are to come, as comments from the crew about the current BLM and police protests indicate that they’ll be taking that greatly into consideration when making new episodes.  It’s important to address, yes, but I’m not sure this show will do so in the best way.  I will say that when Rosa came out as bisexual, the show handled that quite well, with Holt’s quote about “every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place” being a very well stated and lovely sentiment.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine ultimately is a show about a workplace becoming a de facto family, a common theme in workplace comedies.  These are people who might bicker with each other but ultimately will have each other’s backs.  And while I might nitpick a few things here and there, ultimately the show is very funny and well worth your time.  You can stream it on Hulu, or if you’d like to get the DVDs and want to check it out at Amazon, you can click here and remember, when you use the links, you kick back some cash to us here at the Atomic Junk Shop and help us keep the lights on.

3 Comments

  1. Peter

    Andre Braugher really deserves all the recognition he’s received for his work here, and maybe some more (I was surprised at how many Emmys he’s actually been nominated for, but no win yet). He pretty much takes this show from a very good, witty sitcom to a show that is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud. I like Andy Samberg quite a bit as Jake, actually, and the rest of the cast is great, but Braugher is really the MVP.

    I have definitely gotten in the bad habit of quoting Peralta’s go-to line of “cool cool cool” when encountering awkward lulls in conversations, luckily I still haven’t slipped up and used “title of your sex tape” at work yet.

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