I think one of the things I appreciate most about Brooklyn 99 is that it has an incredibly diverse cast (the NYPD is actually about 50% minorities, so it’s really nice to see a show that reflects that) AND even more importantly, there are at least two of every minority represented, so nobody has to be a token anything or be representative of their entire ‘group’.
Terry and Captain Holt are both black cops in positions of power, but they have very different leadership strategies and very different interests, hobbies, etc, none of which really hinge on them being ‘black’. Terry loves his children, Holt is not really big on kids.
Latinas? The actress who plays Diaz was actually shocked she got the role after she heard Melissa Fumero got Santiago–“I thought, ‘That’s it. The network is not going to allow there to be two Latinas in one show,‘” Beatriz said. “I was so used to, ‘There’s only room for one.'” But there doesn’t have to be only one! Santiago and Diaz are literally polar opposite personalities. Diaz is brash and tough, Santiago is a huge authority-pleaser and plays by the book, etc. I believe they also canonically have different countries of origin which ~surprise surprise~, not all Latinx people come from the same place, so one token won’t cover everything!
Gay characters? Even the main gay couple in the cast (Holt and his husband) are both very different from each other, and his husband isn’t just there as like gay window dressing, he’s fleshed out as having his own interests and contributions to the relationship outside of just being ‘gay.’ He’s more of an academic/intellectual and isn’t interested in the whole cop scene, but loves his husband and still supports his career. Furthermore–both of them have been gay and happy married for years.
Gina Linetti and Jake Peralta? Both Italian. (interestingly enough, both actors are Jewish irl as well)
While not exactly a minority, even the classic workplace sitcom ‘old fat white guy that everybody makes fun of’ isn’t a one-off token either! Scully and Hitchcock, while very similar, STILL have key differences between them pointed out throughout the show.
I could keep going, but the point is that Brooklyn 99 does a fantastic job of avoiding lazy cultural stereotypes and really trying to build characters. And this is a deliberate move by the showrunners: “You don’t reduce people to one thing in the modern age. That’s our No 1 rule of writing.”
Nobody has to be a token. Nobody has to be a stereotype. Racial and ethnic and other backgrounds aren’t punchlines, they’re just part of who people are.
“I started after him...and the clown looked back. I saw Its eyes, and all at once I understood who It was." "Who was it, Don?" Harold Gardner asked softly. "It was Derry," Don Hagarty said. "It was this town.” It, Stephen King