A short, bulleted essay about the effect of media on our thoughts and why Brooklyn 99 is a Very Important Show
Howdy folks. As you all are probably aware of by now, I started watching Brooklyn Nine Nine and it sort of … all spiraled downhill from there. No, kidding, that was a joke to break the tension. But yeah, I started watching and couldn’t stop. And, in trying to figure out why, I noticed something.
It didn’t chafe me. It didn’t set off alarm bells in my head.
Too often, I’ll start a movie or book or show that will be entertaining, enjoyable even - but then, there’s always a line, or scene, or character, or moment that has me doing a double take. That has me cringing internally. Something that’s wrong, something that’s off, something that I don’t think is necessary. It bothers me, it irks me, and it discolours the entertainment experience I’m having. And yet, every time, I push that feeling away because I’ve resigned myself to the fact that these things will appear in the media I consume, and I might as well take what I can get, because it’s either that little irk or a blatant, in-my-face smear of disgusting and (for lack of a better word) problematic attitudes.
But it didn’t happen this time. And I was so refreshed.
While the show itself can be pretty goofy, and at times even childish, I much prefer it to any of the other “more adult” media content I’ve consumed. Why? Because it didn’t have those little irks.
Not only did it not have irks - it had the opposite of irks. It had - has - anti-irks. It actually soothes the irks from the other shows.
That was partially in jest. But no, seriously. A while ago, when I’d first started watching, someone sent me an ask that read “aren’t there so many things to love about Brooklyn 99?”
And so, because you all know my love for lists, I decided to make a list.
1) Let’s start with the biggest one: its incredibly diverse cast. We’ve got a cast of seven characters consisting of two black men, one of whom is gay; three women (not counting secondary characters) two of whom are Latina; and two white guys, one of whom is Jewish (Hitchcock and Scully are mostly background, so I’m omitting them from the “main” cast. If their names don’t appear on the little intro, they’re not major characters). Of the seven main characters, four of them are POC. Two of those four are female. But here’s the thing – in each and every case, the audience is aware of the characters’ background without it being a topic that is either a) made the butt/punchline of a joke, b) blatantly mentioned and brought up like it’s something unnatural or strange, or, c) completely ignored. In all of these cases, the race, sexual orientation, ethnicity and culture of each individual character is treated as something normal, natural, and respected. It can be and is part of their motivation as a character, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all of their personality (in the case of Holt, for example, the constant discrimination against him as a black gay police officer is a driving force in his decisions and attitude while not completely encompassing and/or diminishing his complexity as a character in his own right). It is never seen as unimportant, and yet simultaneously it’s made known in a gracefully, bordering-on-subtle way that – and here’s the important thing – normalizes it. This show makes the harmony and love between a precinct full of people from all different backgrounds normal and natural and a good thing.