‘Brooklyn 9-9’ Is This Generation’s ‘Office’

Just as Steve Carell succeeded in bringing aughts humor to the workplace, Andy Samberg captures the spirit of the times in his cop comedy.

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Just as Steve Carell succeeded in bringing aughts humor to the workplace, Andy Samberg captures the spirit of the times in his cop comedy.

When it comes to millennials, nothing brings people together quite like a shared loved for television shows. Scan any Twitter bio or Instagram caption and you’re sure to find a quote from either “The Office” or “Parks and Recreation,” shows that are widely adored by young people everywhere. Though both went off the air years ago, more and more people are still discovering them thanks to streaming. Both shows are a little past their prime, so that begs the question: What’s the next beloved phenomenon?

Most people know and love Andy Samberg from his “Saturday Night Live” and Lonely Island days, but not many are familiar with the television show he now stars in. Poking fun at shows like procedural dramas that take themselves too seriously, “Brooklyn 9-9” is a comedy centered on a police precinct in Brooklyn. Or, just like “The Office” and “Parks and Rec,” another workplace comedy. What gives this one the lasting power just like those?

First, since pure, unbiased facts are always good to start with in today’s society, “Brooklyn 9-9” snagged a 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes . For comparison, “Parks and Recreation” scored a 90 percent and “New Girl” brought in a 93 percent on the site. Unfortunately, “Brooklyn 9-9” only ended this spring with 1.5 million viewers. For the same comparison, “Parks and Rec” ended its fourth season with 3.42 million viewers and “New Girl” with 2.2 million. These ratings for “Brooklyn 9-9” are, in the words of President Trump, sad.

Though the show isn’t hitting a viewing high, settling into the 9-9 every week can ease the most troubled of souls in this increasingly strange world. In ten years, everyone is going to know its name, and here’s why.

1. It has serious behind the scenes talent.

Daniel Goor and Michael Schur, both of who are powerhouse names in the comedy world, created “Brooklyn 9-9.” Goor’s credits include writing for shows like “Parks and Rec” and “The Daily Show,” while Schur created “Parks and Rec,” along with writing for “Saturday Night Live” and “The Office” (those with a discerning eye might recognize him as Mose Schrute). Everybody loves at least one of the shows mentioned, so these guys really cover all the comedy bases and leave their mark on the 9-9.

2. Its supporting ensemble is as diverse as it is dynamic.

For lots of people, Andy Samberg may be the only recognizable face in the cast, but oh, how he shouldn’t be.

If any other cast member has a recognizable face, its Terry Crews as Sergeant Terry Jeffords. Probably most known for his role in the movie “White Chicks,” Crews started his acting career after retiring form the NFL. As Terry Jeffords, however, Crews is a softie. He’s an intimidating, bulky guy, but at the end of the day, he just loves his kids, his yogurt and speaking in third person.

Chelsea Peretti didn’t have many acting credits before she joined the 9-9. In fact, her most noteworthy role had been as a writer for “Parks and Rec,” in addition to her standup career. Peretti brings dry, sardonic sass onBrooklyn 9-9” as the assistant Gina Linetti, with notable lines such as “I grew up with a smoke machine in the apartment, Charles. I like to enter the kitchen in the morning with vivacity,” and “Hm, I would clearly be buried with my phone.” She’s like the April Ludgate antithesis in all the best ways. A tastemaker. A trendsetter. An icon for all millennials.

‘Brooklyn 9-9’ Is This Generation’s ‘Office’
Chelsea Peretti in “Brooklyn 9-9” (Image via Salon)

Stephanie Beatriz, another relative newcomer to the acting spotlight, plays the tough-as-nails and stoic Rosa Diaz. Though Rosa could take down anyone—man, women, indomitable giant—her character arc has allowed viewers to see the soft side between the deadpans. It’s easy to enter into cliché territory when you have the stereotypical tough character with a heart of gold, but Diaz bucks those stereotypes by being more than just motorcycles and leather jackets—bonding with Peralta, secretly loving chick flicks, falling in love, being a female in a role typically reserved for men—she makes you feel cool just by association.

The rest of the cast is just as dynamic, from Andre Braugher as the straight-laced Captain Holt, to Melissa Fumero as the uptight love interest Amy Santiago. Men, women, African Americans, Latinas—minorities bring the punch to this show, and it wouldn’t be the same without them. But at the same time, the show never makes a big deal about the diversity. It’s just normal. And that’s great.

3. It’s pure fun—and those running jokes.

Andy Samberg radiates pure joy into whatever character he plays, from his “SNL” days to “Hot Rod,” and “Brooklyn 9-9” shows him in perhaps the prime of his goof. Jake Peralta is infectiously upbeat, like he can’t believe he gets to wake up and be a cop everyday. He’s basically a kid that watched “Die Hard” every day of his life, then grew up to be like Bruce Willis and cannot get over how cool that is.

And any show worth its salt knows the value of a good reoccurring joke. “The Office” had Michael’s hatred for Toby and the Dundies. “Parks and Rec” had Lil’ Sebastian and Leslie’s love for Joe Biden. “Brooklyn 9-9” has an annual Halloween prank competition and perfectionist Amy trying to be cool in front of Captain Holt. Great shows hook an audience by making them feel like they’re in on the joke, and the 9-9 takes its cue from the great workplace comedies of the past.

4. The show address societal issues, both directly and indirectly.

Since the cast is diverse, “Brooklyn 9-9” has the chance to make a bit of a social commentary at times. Captain Holt is a gay, black, commanding officer who has had to work twice as hard as every other white officer to rise up in the ranks to captain—and never is his sexuality used as a punch line; he has arguably the healthiest relationship in the whole show.

Terry Jeffords, though a sergeant, gets racially profiled by an officer while out in his neighborhood at night. The show devotes a whole episode to his feelings and reaction.

Also, the ladies on this show are tough as hell, and do not take any crap from dudes. Rosa regularly beats everyone up, and Amy is the smartest detective in the precinct. And they’re never pitted against each other or only talking about the men in their lives. They’re real, strong women. Bechdel Test, check.

5. Character arcs galore.

Just like running jokes, audiences feel connected to the show when they see the characters grow. And in the beginning of “Brooklyn 9-9,” the character quirks that we’ve come to know and love did start off as shticks, because the characters weren’t fully formed. There was no real reason for their weird behavior, and that’s off-putting to an audience. But now, in its fourth season, the groove has been found. Sure Jake is just an obnoxious goofball, but its because he loves being a cop. Amy is just a stuck up perfectionist, but it’s because, as a woman, she feels like she always has to prove herself. Terry is a huge, muscular dude, but secretly fragile because he’s scared of getting injured and not being there for his kids. The characters became more than just shticks through the past four seasons; they became real.

“Brooklyn 9-9” has a unique positivity to it; it’s so goofy that it’s hardly able to be reality. But watching it feels like coming home and putting on a warm blanket, settling in safely to the family of the 9-9. Michael Schur and Dan Goor’s fingerprints are all overall this show, and maybe in ten years, everyone’s going to be talking about Jake and Amy or weirdo Gina, just like Jim and Pam or April Ludgate.

Writer Profile

Abbey Slattery

Northwestern College
Writing & Rhetoric

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