Who are the people still watching Brooklyn 99 and finding it funny?
It’s mediocre at best and you know it
Brooklyn 99 just got renewed for a seventh season, and God, when will it end.
B99 has the kernel of a good series: there's a diverse range of characters, every episode passes the Bechdel test, there's a dog called Cheddar. At the heart of the show there's some warming testaments to friendship, love, and finding family all around you.
But there's something in the way Brooklyn 99 presents this that doesn't sit right with me. The dialogue is stale, comedy is kind of cringe, it feels like homosexuality and race are used for humour, and all of the interpersonal relationships are just pastiches of earlier, better 2000s shows. Here's everything that makes Brooklyn 99 mediocre at best.
Diversity is used as a tool for humour
Gina Linnetti, the citric-humoured genius behind extremely quotable lines such as the human embodiment of the 100 emoji, is the only funny character. You know this, I know this, your aunt Carol knows this. Aside from Gina, all of the comedy is vapid, unintelligent, and always at the expense of the character's diversity and identities.
Hitchcock and Scully are only funny because they're lazy and fat. From the gate, we're told that Captain Holt's sexuality is a subject of humour. Jake is attracted to Sophia and Amy because, in Boyle's words, "he likes the Latinas". Whether it's poking at sexuality, racial fetishism, or masculinity, Brooklyn 99 just can't quite uncouple itself from the same intersections of discrimination that it seeks to eliminate.
Masculinity is presented as a joke
If we didn't already need anymore evidence why Brooklyn 99 can't present diversity well, there's the weird and problematic depictions of masculinity, too. Terry Crews' eponymous character Terry is only used humorously when a) screaming WHY at Jake after he, I don't know, uses Holt's shower gel as petrol or b) when he's eating small yogurts or despairing over building fairy princess castles.
Watch this clip and tell me the comedy would work if they used any other character. Terry's penchant for yogurt and fairy castles wouldn't be funny if he wasn't a six-foot bodybuilder. His masculinity is essentially turned into a joke. Gender roles are alive and well!!
The same joke, but every episode
Think back to any Brooklyn 99 episode and you'll find the same sharp one-liner, repeated over and over and over. It's simple and accessible but wow, does it feel repetitive. I'm still yet to feel truly thrown off or surprised by the comedy.
Think about it: Jake makes the same title-of-your-sex-tape joke every single episode, Charles always has some weird food obsession, Rosa threatens to kill Hitchcock and Scully, Holt and Kevin have the same argument about maths, every single Halloween episode is the same, the Pontiac Bandit is in love with Rosa, Wuntch and Holt have weird, creepy psychosexual encounters every so often…please just write another joke.
All of the humour is cringe and awkward
This should be unsurprising seeing as the producer and writer Andy Samberg is the same guy who rose to fame singing 'Jizz in My Pants' on YouTube in 2009.
Jake's constant refrain of "title of your sex tape" is just a pastiche of that's what she said. Every time I watch this show I'm reminded of being young and finding sexual innuendos in literally anything, it didn't matter, all I cared about was that it was funny and a bit stupid. Trying to stomach Brooklyn 99's comedy gives me that same feeling when you look back on being young and thinking neon leg-warmers and a side fringe were a good idea.
The writing is unoriginal
Brooklyn 99 portrays Jake and Amy's will-they-won't-they relationship without enough give and take, and with too much reminiscence of off-and-on-again relationships that we've all seen before. Remember Ross and Rachel on Friends? Chuck and Blair on Gossip Girl? J.D. and Elliott on Scrubs? Don't get me started on the similarities between J.D. and Dr Cox and Jake and Holt's relationships.
Undoubtedly, despite the dissonance between Jake and Amy, there is the feel of genuine connection between them, a testament to the sensitive and tenacious acting of Andy Samberg and Melissa Fumero, a feat that won them the Valentine's Day Shipper Award earlier this month. But please, give us something new, some adult characters who connect without acting like they're in Year 8 and don't really like each other.
Are these characters even police officers because honestly they act like 10 year olds
Sitcoms have done better in terms of using work settings for humour and ingraining them into the plot. Parks and Rec did good with finding humour in the bureaucracy of local government, Scrubs made a hospital setting part of the drama and pathos, The Office commemorated the boredom and monotony of working in a dead-end office job.
Whereas Brooklyn 99 is set in a police precinct, and doesn't really do anything else with that, some episodes seeming to forget that the characters are actual police officers, you know, real trained professionals who can arrest you and even shoot you. Are we even going to mention that Brooklyn 99 does nothing to address the problems in the US police force? The characters act like 10-year-olds, and the flippant, even slapstick, humour in the context of a comedy show set in a literal police force just doesn't sit right with me.
Does anyone who watches this actually like it or do they just miss The Office
I know we can't quite let go of some of the brilliance that's graced our screens before: The Office, Parks and Recreation, Community. I'm not the only one who's watched their highlights reel a million times. We miss it. But in terms of single-camera sitcoms, we've done better than this. Brooklyn 99 is a poor substitute, like trying to reattach a severed leg back on with Pritt stick. Let it go.