The cracking fantasy of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' - MrLiambi's blog

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Friday, 13 August 2021

The cracking fantasy of 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'

Rosa (Stephanie Beatrix) and Jake (Andy Samberg) in Season 8 of

Brooklyn Nine-Nine's final season faces an impossible task.

The beloved NBC series returned Thursday night to a world very different from what it left behind in April of 2020. Coronavirus lockdowns had just begun in the United States and the world waited in vain to return to a "normal" that will never exist again. And just over a month later, the streets rose up after the police murder of George Floyd.

In the rapid flood of education, unlearning, social justice and activism that followed, it became clear that Brooklyn Nine-Nine and other TV shows about cops would never be looked at in the same way. Many Americans are well-acquainted with police corruption and brutality, but many more had the luxury of living in ignorance for years, a comfort fueled by films and series that glorify armed officers.

For seven seasons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine presented an ideal; the best of policing and of this country. Here was a diverse, empathetic workplace family who never let race, sexuality, or whatever Boyle's deal is get in the way of fierce bonds and fun-filled heists. A 2015 study found that crime drama audiences have more favorable opinions of police efficacy and integrity; to the same end, watching cops be silly and warm humanizes them in a way that many Americans never witness.

It muddies things that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is also one of the most prolific comedies of the era. It debuted in 2013 to critical acclaim and enough popularity that sustained it through Season 8, even found the show a new home at NBC after internet uproar. The show thoughtfully tackled race, gender, and sexuality, often without having to say anything explicitly. The few times it did were all-timers; one standout episode about racism in policing sees Terry (Terry Crews) accosted while off-duty by a white officer.

But look back on an episode like that one (Season 4's "Moo Moo") and you'll see how odd it reads today. Terry and Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) speak seriously about the realities of being black and queer in policing, while Jake (Andy Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) are tasked with explaining racism to Terry's children, but even then what happened to Terry is framed as an anomaly. "Bad cops" were the exception, a disease to be rooted out. In Season 8, "the good ones" (episode 1's chilling title) are the rarity, and the Nine-Nine, after holding its own for so long, must either rewrite the system or abandon it altogether.

Jake wants to prove to Rosa that there are still good cops in the Season 8 premiere of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine."
Jake wants to prove to Rosa that there are still good cops in the Season 8 premiere of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." Credit: NBC

Season 8's opening episode is one of the show's weakest. A rushed cold open blows through the coronavirus pandemic to an unspecified time in the future when first responders are vaccinated and no one wears masks indoors. It's incidental to the show at large but disorienting to any viewer by virtue of having lived through the year we've had (not to mention shows like Superstore handling the pandemic so expertly).

It leaves out a lot of possible stories, but perhaps ones that showrunner Dan Goor may no longer have found appropriate. A look back on the early months of COVID with uniformed officers positioned as heroes would look tone-deaf in August 2021, to say the least. At the end of Season 7, Goor spoke with Mashable about how Brooklyn Nine-Nine could address coronavirus, knowing that its characters were considered essential and would face the pandemic in one of the cities hit hardest by it. None of that makes it into the beginning Season 8, though it could always come through in flashbacks.

Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) has quit the police force to work as a private detective and help victims of police violence and misconduct, an explanation provided with painful exposition by Holt. This opens up a lot of possibilities with following Rosa and her cases or even her journey since she quit, but episode one stays true to the show's established form. In fact, all five of the episodes screened for critics seem desperate to prove that the Nine-Nine is as tight-knit and charming as always, but it feels more like propaganda than persuasion. Episode 1 introduces more than one high-powered individual within the police department who would rather protect officers and turn a blind eye than enact true justice, and even when it's played for laughs it hurts.

John C. McGinley joins "Brooklyn NIne-Nine" as police union chief Frank O'Sullivan.
John C. McGinley joins "Brooklyn NIne-Nine" as police union chief Frank O'Sullivan. Credit: NBC

And yet â€" the early episodes also carry a subtle thread of subversion. With Rosa off the force and open about her reasoning, the others have no choice but to reassess their role within the NYPD. Holt is preoccupied with his marital issues, and Amy and Jake by work-life balance with a new child, but they can only go so long putting off what must be done. Episode three will put Amy up for a chance to reform the NYPD, and episode five brings back Doug Judy (Craig Robinson) for a bittersweet last hurrah.

For show that has always been enviably confident in its comedic tone, the start of Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 8 falters, but not without showing its potential. The team behind this show is keenly aware of its awkward position in culture at the moment, and next steps from there will be anything but confident. Think about a character like Jake, who matured off-screen from a cocky white cishet John McClane wannabe into the loving friend and father we see today. That's not something that can be undone in a single episode.

Just as this country's systemic racism and flawed power structures aren't going to be dismantled overnight, neither will the media that reflect it. Season 8 may not turn out to be the show's finest, funniest, or even most-watched, but it could be the most important. A wobbly start can still stick the landing, and if this show does it, there's hope for many more.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. on NBC.



Source : http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/hLi9CBPx2Go/brooklyn-nine-nine-season-8-opening

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