Earlier this year American sitcom, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, made headlines when it was famously cancelled by Fox.
If you hadn’t heard of the show before, you certainly would have last May, as fan uproar meant it was snapped up by NBC less than 48 hours after it’d been dropped.
As many pointed out, even Jesus Christ himself stayed dead for longer than the popular show.
But why were fans so affected by it’s cancellation?
For the unfamiliar, on the outside, Brooklyn Nine-Nine appears to be your standard comedy about police officers with the classic sitcom characters.
There’s the immature but lovable joker who has a bromance with his best friend, the stuck-up woman who we grow to love, the unhinged loose cannon who often talks the most sense, the one who was overweight but is now a fitness addict, the slightly terrifying wildcard, and finally, the token gay character.
Even the official synopsis sounds dull and cliche:
The hilarious heroics of New York’s funniest police precinct continue for a new season, with a brand-new home: NBC.
SNL alum Andy Samberg and Emmy winner Andre Braugher lead this diverse, critically acclaimed ensemble that solves crimes like only they can – with tons of humour and the heart to match.
You can watch the official trailer for the show here:
However, Brooklyn Nine-Nine actually manages to defy every sitcom stereotype, while also doing exactly what a sitcom should do – make you laugh, cry and relate.
As well as being really, really funny, Brooklyn Nine-Nine also tackles serious issues – some considered taboo – in relation to race, gender and sexuality.
These are issues which millions of people around the world have to deal with on a daily basis, all of which are handled in a sensitive but strangely courageous way by the show, which is all about celebrating diversity and being who you are.
I’d argue this is why fans were determined to save the Nine-Nine and also why it’s arguably the most important show of the past decade.
It would be easy to write essays on how Brooklyn Nine-Nine celebrates diversity and identity, especially since it does so in a way no sitcom before has.
The show has one of the most diverse casts seen on television and has been praised for its excellent representation of LGBT characters.
This is not only because it’s written so well, by creators Dan Goor and Michael Schur, but also due to the fact the characters’ sexualities never define them.
Take Captain Ray Holt for example, an openly gay black man in a same-sex interracial marriage who leads the NYPD precinct.
While Holt’s sexuality is addressed in the very first episode, the show never makes a big deal out of it and it’s never used as a punchline at any point.
Holt is gay and black. Not for comedy purposes, but because it’s reflective of American society.
Crucially, when constructing Holt’s character, Goor and Schur didn’t fall into the trap of making him stereotypically camp and feminine with a taste for the eccentric.
Instead, just like plenty of other gay men in the real world.
While his identity is certainly shaped by his sexuality as he speaks about his struggles as a double minority and the prejudice he’s faced, Holt is perhaps better known for his dry sense of humour, stoic face and enduring loyalty to his family, the Nine-Nine.
It really is no wonder he’s so many fans’ favourite character:
To the commanding officer that was so proudly open about his sexuality. To one of the most iconic characters in the show. To someone who is both an inspiration and a friend to the 99. #RaymondHoltDay ✨? pic.twitter.com/5gYdLalEuv
— dorothy ♡ (@heyitsdorothyyy) June 29, 2018
— Emily Brand (@EJBrand) May 10, 2018
my personal favorite is Cap's Ray Holt
his story about being a gay black men in the force is moving and the fact that now he's a CAPTAIN and has a squad that really loves him fills my heart #99ReasonsWeLoveB99 pic.twitter.com/fqdL3Sqtis
— Louisa (@clrsassenach) September 9, 2018
And Holt isn’t the only LGBT leading character on the show. In Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s 99th episode, entitled 99, Detective Rosa Diaz came out as bisexual.
During the episode, tough as nails officer Rosa, played brilliantly by Stephanie Beatriz, announced to the Nine-Nine she’s bisexual.
After dating several men and being engaged to Adrian Pimento previously on the show, Rosa simply states to Charles Boyle: ‘I’m dating a woman, I’m bi’ leaving viewers wanting to jump out of their seats and applaud her courage.
You can watch Rosa telling the rest of the precinct in the emotional clip below:
Some members of the LGBT community feel bisexuality is notoriously misconstrued in the entertainment world, – when it rarely does feature – and it would be difficult to find a realistic representation.
Enter Rosa, a bisexual woman who was initially timid about coming out but, after some encouragement from her friend Boyle, is now open and proud.
Beatriz’s Rosa completely owned it and importantly emphasised her sexuality was not a ‘phase’ or result of nymphomania, as bi-sexuality has been misrepresented as in the past.
Instead, she states she’s known since seventh grade after she found herself thinking both Zack Morris and Lisa Turtle from Saved By The Bell were ‘hot’.
But don’t take my word Rosa’s bisexuality is important, take Beatriz’s, who, just like her character, is an open bisexual woman.
Having come out in 2016, Beatriz helped the writers shape Rosa’s story by sharing her personal experiences.
In an interview with Variety last year, Beatriz explained why she was more than happy to help.
I was so excited about it because as somebody who identifies as bi — queer — I just had nothing like that when I was growing up. The gay characters I can remember were most often stereotypes.
Even a show like Friends you watch back, and you’re like, ‘Ooh, I can’t believe that’s the choice they made.’
And as someone who’s bi, you have absolutely nothing — no representation at all. And to be able to try to do something like that on our show and have a character come out as bi was really important for me.
— Brooklyn Nine-Nine (@nbcbrooklyn99) August 8, 2018
If a kid that’s bi is watching TV and doesn’t really see anyone that identifies as bi or queer that is in a happy, functioning relationship, that has a good job, that lives past a three-episode guest star arc — or maybe the bi character is hypersexualized or possibly a villain, [which] happens a lot — what does that mean for a 12, 13-year-old watching television and consuming media, and thinking, ‘Well who am I then? I guess I’m not this thing because I’m not a villain, I don’t want to be hypersexualized, I want what everybody wants, to live happy and well.’
While progress has been made in accurately representing the LGBT community, many still face discrimination and coming out is still a stressful experience.
Often it can help seeing a television or film character going through the same thing as you and thriving, just like Rosa who’s helped other bisexual people address what they’re experiencing.
Representation of LGBT communities is important and we really do need to see more characters like Rosa on our screens.
Clearly unafraid to tackle sensitive and serious topics, in the episode Moo-Moo the show addressed the issue of racial profiling and triumphed, getting very real about something which is constantly hitting the headlines, predominantly of American newspapers.
There are two black characters who are leads on the show – Holt and Sergeant Terry Jeffords, played by Terry Crews.
Moo-Moo really allows Crews to shine, portraying Terry as he’s stopped by a white police officer while searching his middle class neighbourhood looking for his daughter’s lost blanket.
While Terry tries to explain he lives nearby and hasn’t done anything wrong, the officer reaches for his gun and tells Jeffords to put his hands up before frisking him.
It’s a harsh and shocking moment, but also incredibly sobering as you know this a problem occurring all too often within society.
During the rest of the episode Terry, along with the rest of the Nine-Nine, discuss how best to handle the issue both within the precinct and society.
I feel it’s one of the best episodes in Brooklyn Nine-Nine history so far, if not the best, as it takes part in an urgent conversation which does not feel out of place in the comedic sitcom.
Continuing to nail diversity on the head, Brooklyn Nine-Nine also breaks down female gender stereotypes with it’s leading ladies, two of which are latina.
Rosa, Amy and Gina can all hold their own with the writers allowing them to kick plenty of ass, without their ethnicity ever being mentioned.
Even Gina, who isn’t a cop, gets her fair share of action and also destroys the standard kooky stereotype, being intelligent, honest (she always speaks her mind) and street smart.
Usually in modern-day sitcoms, you’ll get a powerful or head-strong female character, but in Brooklyn Nine-Nine you get three, something which is quite peculiar in itself.
Each of the three is completely different to the other, but they form a strong bond, developing a friendship which doesn’t just involve chatting about their sexual relationships with men.
Being effortlessly diverse and able to address current and serious issues within a half-an-hour comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is unlike any other sitcom. Other television shows can learn a lot from it.
NBC realised this when they picked it up, understanding the importance of the show and what it could be in the future.
We can’t wait to see what adventures Brooklyn’s 99th precinct have next.
All together now, NINE-NINE!
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.