Hillarious, quick witted and focused on much more than police work, Brooklyn 99 has been an unexpected delight on Netflix and I brisked through watching seasons 1-3 in next to no time at all.
It’s hugely successful pairing of Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher are at the heart of the show and really nail their characters of a slightly immature but talented detective and a seemingly uptight captain respectively. Over the seasons, both characters take on serious, personal and downright bizarre cases and forge a respectful relationship, that remains lighthearted and comedic throughout.
The entire cast is diverse and the actors capture their characters in a very genuine way which is always true to character without becoming cliched. It’s possibly the first show since Firefly to really have me believing in the characters and knowing them inside and out so well and so quickly; by about episode 8, I knew every character well enough to predict their intentions and sympathise with their own personal battles. Having POC actors, POC women, an explicit LGBTQ character in a position of power without any of these being obviously ‘shoehorned in’ is one of the show’s/castings great strengths.
Amy, Rosa and Gina are the three brilliant ladies working in the detective department and every one of them is unique, personable and able to hold their own, in terms of story lines as well as with the guys of the department! As for the male detectives, Jake, Terry, Charles and Holt all suit their roles to a tee and have deep, multi-layered personalities that aren’t stereotypically ‘male cop’ which makes a refreshing change.
Another great change to the police procedural format is that Brooklyn 99′s episodes don’t focus on the actual crime or police work per se. It’s all about the characters working in te police/detective’s department and how they approach cases, work and personal lives as well as what happens when these all interact. Cases if solved are always done as secondary to the main plot of the episode, allowing the comedy and personal lives of the characters to strive through. However, even for police procedural fans such as myself, there are plenty of crime references and cases to be solved in each season!
Each season has a loose plot arc, but mainly it’s the reoccuring references and story lines that keep me watching. Everything from Terry being passionate about health, sensitivity and his kids to the drama with Charles’s ex wife and his dog, to Gina and her dance troupe and the brilliance of the Pontiac Bandit. Everything that reoccurs does so because it’s just so fitting and funny.
I should probably mention that the entire show itself is really funny. The cold open’s are brilliantly written, as is the whole show. Lots of current references peppered throughout and pop culture references (especially Die Hard) and quick wit, openly honest gags that few comedy/drama shows are brave enough to script in (high praise for pointing out problems in America’s own justice system, the treatment of women and highlighting LGBTQ issues in the US). I can’t think of a ‘bad’ episode or a season plot arc that I disliked - it’s rare for a show to have such a solid run of continued good form, especially now in it’s fourth season.
I could go into more detail about just how good the show is, but really it’s worth a watch just for Andy Samberg being himself and rolling with everything that goes down and Andre Braugher stealing scenes (and hearts) as possibly the best damn police detective out there. A great comedy and one that I hope will continue for a long time to come.