Tonight, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has an extremely important episode about racial profiling. I encourage everyone to tune in and learn and to give this issue the attention that it needs. Ratings show that we care about this and want to be informed.
You can watch live on Fox.com, and I believe Hulu also helps ratings. It airs at 8pm est and it is important. For more information on why, here is a small chunk of what I wrote about B99/the episode for a final paper in one of my political science classes:
One question that the show runners of Brooklyn Nine-Nine struggled to answer for a long time was whether or not it would be appropriate to have an episode which discussed the racial profiling that is currently the talk of the nation. As a show with two black men playing the most prominent positions of power within a police precinct, many people have been wondering about the dichotomy that this presents. Brooklyn Nine-Nine shows a romantic notion of a police precinct in which all white male characters are aware of their privilege and, if they are not, their co-workers are quick to call them out on it. Yet this is not the case in all police precincts— something that the writers of Brooklyn Nine-Nine have struggled with throughout the four seasons of the show due to the fact that “our heroes are the police, [and] it’s difficult to talk about the police in an abstract way,” said executive producer Dan Goor in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
The idea for the episode came about because of the unrest in the nation, and the writers pitched different ideas back-and-forth for quite a long time, but ultimately went with a situation that paralleled one which Terry Crews had been in. Crews is a former NFL player who had once been subjected to a stop-and-frisk, just as he is in this upcoming episode. In the context of the show, however, the character struggles with whether or not he should file a formal complaint that could jeopardize his career. “To a certain extent, it’s the question of: Am I blue or am I black?” Goor commented to Entertainment Weekly. The characters on the show all have to face the world of cops outside of their comfortable precinct, a conundrum that the actors and writers on the show felt that they had to tackle so that “Brooklyn Nine-Nine didn’t become a cartoon,” in the words of Terry Crews. He also points out, however, that this is just one of the reasons— and relevance in society, and making change, is another.
In the upcoming episode, Detective Jake Peralta, a white male, points out that he has done plenty of suspicious things on the street and had never been stopped by the police for it. Terry had merely been looking for his daughter’s blanket, while a flashback shows Jake sneaking in through a window wearing a Jason mask and getting away with it. (…) “As far as the show goes, it felt like there was an opportunity to make a statement. I think it’s definitely an issue that is really important [and] has been around for some time,” said writer Philip Jackson. The conscious decision to make that statement instead of shoving it under the rug is where the significance lies in this episode of television.
In 2017, black lives matter more than “all lives matter” because the lives of black American citizens are in genuine danger from the police. White citizens do not suffer from the same fears, period. This is something that frequently both stuns the country into silence and ignites it into action. Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland could all still be alive today were it not for racial profiling— which the Brooklyn Nine-Nine writers know very well. Thus, the creators have given this episode to the total control of the black community of people who work on the show. It was written by a black writer; the black actors on the show had a say in the way their characters reacted to the situation; the A-plot was taken away from the main character for the first time in all four seasons and sixteen episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Those telling these stories make it clear whose story they are telling, being careful to elevate the narrative of the black creative members of the team without stomping on or overpowering their voices.
Perhaps the most telling piece of that narrative is found within a clip of the episode that has just been released on youtube. Sergeant Terry Jeffords and Captain Raymond Holt sit in the private home of the captain and discuss whether or not Terry should report the stop and frisk to his superiors. When Captain Holt points out that Terry is “a great cop. You could become a chief or higher,” Terry’s response is simple, yet effective: “How long will it take to make change that way?”