Brooklyn Nine Nine was one of the most popular shows of 2018, and deservedly so as it gave us some wonderful characters with contrasting personalities and complex relationships, along with five seasons of intriguing storylines and absolute madness. While we fell in love with Jake Peralta’s misplaced enthusiasm and adorable mannerisms, we couldn’t help but admire the no-nonsense Captain Holt and the silly but fiercely loyal Charles Boyle. Although there are many reasons to love this wholesome show, one of the most important ones is the way in which Brooklyn Nine Nine deals with sensitive social issues that plague our society.
As we patiently wait for Brooklyn Nine Nine season 6, here’s a list of some episodes which deal with taboo topics effortlessly and make us fall more in love with the show.
Episode: The Tagger (Season 1, Episode 2)
Taboo Topic: Misuse of power by people in positions of authority
When NYPD detective Jake Peralta is assigned a fairly simple vandalism case, he is beyond annoyed to have the new captain tail his every move. However, soon enough, things take a turn for the worse when Jake realizes that his unfazed perp is the son of the deputy police commissioner. The episode highlights how people in authority misuse power to serve their selfish interests. The boy, who is later found to be guilty of several charges, walks away scot-free every time because of the influence that his father enjoys.
Episode: Old School (Season 1, Episode 8)
Taboo Topic: Homophobia
Jake Peralta is over the moon when he finds out that his childhood hero, crime reporter Jimmy Brogan, wants to do a story on him. Jimmy Brogan is dismissive of anything new or progressive and constantly keeps reminiscing about the 70s - a period when sexism, homophobia and racism were rife, as pointed out by Captain Holt himself. In order to get into his idol’s good books, Jake lets several of his offensive comments slide. However, despite making excuses for his behaviour throughout the episode, Jake can’t take it anymore when Brogan decides to refers to the openly gay Captain Holt as ‘that homo’. The episode is a reflection of how homophobia continues to affect people’s opportunities in the workplace and many still believe that it’s acceptable to make homophobic comments in private.
Episode: Moo Moo (Season 4, Episode 16)
Taboo Topic: Racial profiling
There were so many things that were portrayed accurately in this episode: from Terry being stopped by a cop while strolling in his neighbourhood to the cop seeing him as a threat despite him being unarmed to Terry’s daughters wondering why their father was arrested and what it meant to be black. It was heart-wrenching to watch Terry going from frustrated to angry to terrified on being confronted by the cop. What is even more infuriating is that the cop is apologetic for arresting a cop and not for harassing a black man and he continues to defend himself by saying that someone ‘who looked like’ Terry did not look like they belonged in a good neighbourhood.
After some initial hesitation out of fear that filing an official complaint may ruin Terry’s career, Captain Holt decides to help Terry as he comes to the realization that he had worked hard and climbed through the ranks in order to ensure that others did not have to go through the same kind of discrimination that he did.
Episode: Game Night (Season 5, Episode 10)
Taboo Topic: Coming out of the closet
After giving us an openly gay, black detective, Brooklyn Nine Nine blessed us with a bisexual detective who was struggling to come out to her parents. Rosa Diaz asks Jake Peralta to help her come out as bisexual to her parents, but things do not go as planned when Rosa’s parents seem relieved upon thinking that she was Jake’s mistress as they were afraid that she was interested in women - which in their opinion was much worse. Despite her parents, initially, refusing to accept her truth, the episode has a rather sweet ending as her father comes over and promises to try and understand her situation while Rosa tearfully explains to him how who she loved did not change her as a person. She was still the same person - she was still his daughter.
Episode: Gray Star Mutual (Season 5, Episode 18)
Taboo Topic: Women being subjected to more rigid standards than men at the workplace
From the very beginning, Amy Santiago’s defining characteristics were her ambition, determination and drive to work hard, so, it was only a matter of time before she surpassed her peers and became a sergeant from a detective. This episode brings to light how women have to work harder than men in order to be taken seriously by their colleagues and subordinates. When Rosa finds Amy looking at wedding dresses, she immediately denies it and refuses to talk about it. Upon being questioned, Amy reveals how being a female sergeant, she has to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to gain people’s respect, and looking at ‘girly dresses’ would not help her reputation. However, when despite being in a wedding dress, Amy was able to chase after and catch a perp, Rosa encourages Amy to be true to herself and not let other people’s opinions affect her choices as Amy had proven time and again that she was more than deserving of her position.
Along with these great storylines, what sets Brooklyn Nine Nine apart from other sitcoms is how the show manages to be funny without being offensive. So, if you haven’t seen it already, grab a bowl of popcorn and get ready for a binge-watching session because once you start watching this gem of a show, there’s no stopping!
By Tanisha Dasgupta