Brooklyn Nine-Nine came into the television scene in 2013 and has been a breath of fresh air ever since. The show’s impeccable ability to be inclusive and relevant while also remaining hilarious has attracted audiences of all kinds. There is definitely something to be said about the ensemble cast that is at the heart of this show.
It’s no secret that mainstream media lacks diversity. As someone who is a POC, I struggled to find commonality with those on the screen. For years, television ensembles have consisted of mainly white cast’s with the exception of the POC side characters, who are usually an accessory to the main character(s). One of the many amazing things about this show is that it was intentional about creating a believable workplace in New York City.
It makes sense that in a Brooklyn precinct, you would run into a mix of people. The fact that Andre Brauer plays Captain Holt, a gay, black police officer is not in itself a joke — but it isn’t irrelevant either. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a way of sharing the stories of people around us without being blatant about it. The creators of this show are clearly not trying to meet the typical diversity quota of Hollywood.
When the casting directors were first choosing their actors, Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Detective Rosa Diaz, says she had lost hope of being cast when they took on Melissa Fumero, who portrays Detective Amy Santiago.
This may not seem like that vital of a detail, but the reality is that there is such low representation of hispanic and latinx people on television and in film. So little that it was unthinkable to Stephanie Beatriz that Fox would dare cast two Latinas (if you watch the show, you know that both Amy and Rosa are two of the toughest cops in the precinct).
It has been an honor to see these women on my screen and relate to them. While the show is mainly focused on Andy Samberg’s character, Jake Peralta, it does not shy away from developing the storyline of every other cop in the precinct.
On top of its racial diversity and awareness, Brooklyn Nine-Nine seamlessly normalizes LGBTQ+ characters.
Along with Captain Holt who is gay, we have Rosa, who is bisexual. For some reason, Hollywood writers seem to stray away from writing bisexual characters.
Stephanie Beatriz identifies with this in real life, and said that she was really excited to see this specific group of people be represented. And much like the show’s cultural/racial representation, the inclusion of sexual minorities refrains from being an awkward attempt to be culturally relevant.
And as if Brooklyn Nine-Nine couldn’t get any more incredible, this work of art deals with the harsh realities of what our country faces today in terms of the justice system. This show is not afraid to use its voice. Jake often finds himself in dilemmas when he is amongst NYPD cops who are corrupt. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy, but police brutality and racial profiling are not handled as a joke. It is truly impressive that this fine line is never crossed. All of the cops in the 99th precinct handle these issues with integrity.
There is an episode that hit close to home for a lot of black families living in the United States; when Sargeant Jeffords goes outside at night to look for his daughter’s toy, he is faced with the combative force of an on-duty white cop who confronts him for being out. While it took them four seasons to finally address this very real issue, it was relieving when the show runners decided to dedicate an entire episode to it.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has allowed us to process and reflect on our own identity and the state of our country. Not only has it allowed us to process, but it did it while making us laugh. Watching this diverse group of people has been inspiring and refreshing. I am thankful for the community it has cultivated, and the way it handles the misfortune of the world around us.