Show me someone who doesn’t think Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the best thing on TV right now and I’ll show you someone who’s never seen Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Today (18 August) Andy Samberg turns 40. So, what better way to celebrate his four decades on God’s Green with a small homage to his life’s greatest work? Namely, his performance as Detective Jake Peralta.
Let’s take a look at where it all began in a crime-ridden district in Brooklyn:
The narrative follows Detective Jake Peralta, played with exquisite comedic timing as well as the perfect mix of empathy and slapstick by Samberg.
[*Movie trailer voice*] He’s a hot shot cop who won’t be tied down by the rules – or wear a tie – but he respects the badge and gets the job done, cleaning up the mean streets of New York with the best arrest record on his squad.
With a character like this, you might assume Samberg would take centre stage in an ordinary cop show. But Brooklyn Nine-Nine is no ordinary cop show.
Detective Peralta bridges the gap between policing portrayals of the past – think Donnie Brasco and Die Hard – and a more modern charismatic approach to bring us the kind of cop we all wish would arrest us.
Yes, he’s emotionally stifled, impulsive and impractical at times, but he’s always willing to make himself the butt of the abandonment jokes and even goes on an incredible character arc to almost-adulthood while retaining the childlike playfulness which makes Peralta so loveable.
Here’s a little taste of Jake Peralta’s best bits (title of his sex tape):
Brooklyn Nine-Nine swept up at the Golden Globes in 2014 with Samberg taking home Best Actor in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy and the show winning overall Best Television Series in the Musical or Comedy category.
Meanwhile the so-called supporting characters – who are actually just as pivotal to the plot and punchlines as Peralta – are allowed to shine.
Indeed, all the actors involved collected a Screen Actors Guild Award in 2015 for an Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
You only have to look as far as the foil to Detective Jake Peralta, Captain Raymond Holt, to understand why.
Andre Braugher’s multi-award-winning deadpan performance as the first openly gay active police captain in New York City is the perfect rejoinder – as Holt himself would say – to one-dimensional portrayals of the past.
Between Cheddar the dog, his loving relationship with husband, Kevin, and his willingness to sacrifice his own needs for those of his young squad, the details of Holt’s life give lightness and love to an otherwise challenging story of a man overcoming an avalanche of prejudice to succeed on his own terms.
That he often manages to be the funniest character on screen is credit to Braugher.
As ever, the writing is constructed and executed perfectly with light and shade because – as Holt tells long-term antagonist, Madeline Wuntch – the Captain can have it both ways.
Wuntch is indeed best served funny:
Terry Crews’ character, Sergeant Terry Jeffords serves a similar paternal nature which combats often boring portrayals of typical masculinity in other crime comedies.
But unlike Holt, he often takes a backseat to the comedy; a true team player focussed on doing right by his family and friends.
Between occasional pec dances, Terry is the slightly neurotic guy who keeps everything running smoothly in the background, offering perfect cog to the other louder characters’ wheels, and the occasional heart-wrenching look at race relations in America.
Hitchcock and Scully offer light relief when things centre stage get tense, but have managed to garner a cult fandom of their own along the way.
And they invented the pizza cookie, of course:
They allow characters, like Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), space to spread their wings in all manner of aggressive displays of anger and frustration, with guaranteed hilarity.
Diaz’s arc has seen her develop from a cold, calculating character to a cop with wonderful friendships with Jake, Detective Charles Boyle and Detective Amy Santiago, and even Gina Linetti, the outsider of the group who dances – sometimes literally – to her own beat.
Food enthusiast, Charles Boyle is a loyal partner and devotee to Jake, played by Joe Lo Truglio, who even got shot in the backside to save the skins of his squad mates.
Boyle has been hilariously inappropriate, sweetly naive of many social norms, and woefully – physically and verbally – since the open credits, when he hit his head picking up a muffin he dropped, by way of misquoting Bruce McLean in the episode Yippee Kayak, and making up some questionable nicknames.
…And it’s side-splitting. Just watch this:
Last but not least we have Amy Santiago, the competitive but kind detective who won the fifth Halloween Heist as well as Peralta’s heart.
In fact, Melissa Fumero crafted such a well-cultivated character, she won the Outstanding Achievements and Contributions to the Positive Portrayals of Latinos in Media at the HMC Impact Awards in 2015.
Moreover, the whole show – characters included – is perfectly-packaged wholesome humour with representation and diversity at its vey core.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine was repeatedly nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at GLAAD Media Awards – until this year when it won for its representation of the LGBT community, particularly after Diaz came out as bisexual, a much-maligned orientation in the media.
The diversity is impeccably incidental though, neither defining characters or becoming a punchline. The characterisation and writing is simply an accurate representation of the wonderful – and sometimes weird – way humans express individuality.
From the fanatical filing and stationary systems preferred by Amy, to the flea-ridden sofa beloved by Scully and Hitchcock, they’ve all got their quirks.
But they’re not over-written. They’re effortless.
The wacky personality traits of the cast were so subtly funny in season one, they remain believable even as the show goes on and the unthinkable happens – like Captain Holt revealing his penchant for balloon arches and hula-hooping
The real magic is how the characters interplay. Each has their own relationship with the team as a whole and the individuals who make it up.
Even returning characters like The Vulture, Doug Judy and Detective Pimiento never feel shoe-horned into the script.
You can watch Jake and The Pontiac bandit sparring below:
They primarily serve the Good Guy/Bad Guy narrative which speaks to another unique aspect of Brooklyn Nine-Nine: The likeable characters actually like their jobs and – get this – are consistently good at their jobs.
It might not be realistic, but the characters’ respect and love for their work, combined with some wildly impressive displays of integrity through the seasons, makes for pretty aspirational viewing.
When they’re not goofing around:
Countless side-splitting cold openings later – who can forget the line-up bit? NBC have just bagged themselves a hit show beloved by the masses, written by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, the brains behind Parks and Recreation.
After FOX dropped the Nine-Nine after five seasons, outraged fans took to the Internet to fume, and after a few days of trending headlines, NBC confirmed the cast would be back filming season six.
Here’s a sneaky peak from the Brooklyn Nine-Nine table read:
— Brooklyn Nine-Nine (@nbcbrooklyn99) August 8, 2018
This truly is the people’s show, representing all people and making everyone laugh. We love Brooklyn Nine-Nine as much as Terry loves yoghurt.
Dan Goor and Michael Schur are The Ultimate Humans/Geniuses. Don’t @ me or I’m going Full Boyle.
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A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.