youncoolcoolcoolcoolcool! Not noise† After eight glorious seasons – 153 gag-filled 22-minute episodes – Brooklyn Nine-Nine ends tonight. This has happened before. Fox canceled it in 2018, five years after it premiered on the network, but a social media campaign by outraged viewers — supported by high-profile fans like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Guillermo del Toro and Mark Hamill — quickly saw it picked up by NBC for three more. seasons.
This time, the farewell to beloved detectives Jake, Amy, Rosa, Terry, Charles (yes, OK, Hitchcock and Scully too) and to their boss, Captain Raymond Holt, is real, as it deflects with one last double bill of episodes on E4. And it’s probably for the best. It goes out on the cusp it has retained since it began in 2013, and before the radically altered real-life context stumbled across an American show based on the collective belief in the intrinsic goodness of police.
What a joy it has been. Blessed from the start with a smooth cast full of brilliant and generous players, even better together – in any combination – than individually, and from whom it is impossible to pick a best actor, favorite character or even a preferred couple. Andy Samberg’s extraordinary energy as the rambunctious, perpetual half-teen Jake Peralta could have easily turned him into a Jim Carrey-esque figure, drawing attention and throwing the show off balance. Instead, he — and creators Dan Goor and Michael Schur — made him warm and sweet, a symbol of the spirit of the whole.
Melissa Fumero’s Amy Santiago could have been a straightforward nerd, an oppressive force at the police station, and the butt of any cooler character’s jokes. Instead, she was only the target of Gina’s jokes, wasn’t everyone? Her ring binder fetish was a long-running joke, but like all Brooklyn Nine-Nine jokes — arguably the toughest feat in comedy — it grew out of the character and her relationships with the rest of the squad.
The precinct antics might have been set in heightened reality—and thank goodness, because that gave us Gina’s extravagant delights (“a complete overlap of ego and id,” as one of the psychiatrist guests at a Raymond-Kevin party marveled ), Doug Judy and Adrian Pimento, more of whom later – but within that there was never a moment when anyone acted inconsistently or solely in the service of a conspiracy. You could escape into their world and settle in to see what your proxy – and pleasantly functional – family was up to without any fear of being shaken out.
Sergeant Terry (Terry Crews) was the father figure (and, of course, a devoted father to twins Cagney and Lacey) who tried to keep his unruly brood in line and safe. A mountain of a man who, on the inside, was softer than Scully’s belly, Crews carried one of the first storylines to address a “headline” issue: Terry is searching for a twin’s lost toys on the street and is racially profiled by an aggressive and then unrepentant officer. The politics and fallout are further twisted when his Black captain initially discourages Terry from filing a complaint in case it hurts his career. Later series made other forays into discussions of racism, sexism (Amy describes instances of harassment from her then-husband Jake that he could never have imagined), homophobia, motherhood and fatherhood, and gun crime, with varying degrees of success but never derailing the show or descend into common places.
It could easily turn into things like that, in part because of its unique (on mainstream television) diverse cast, present from the get-go. Fumero has spoken of her own disbelief and Stefanie Beatriz (Rosa) that there were two Latina women on the show rather than none — or one symbolic one. Crews and Andre Braugher (Holt), as two black actors, may have felt the same way.
Holt is also gay and married to Kevin (Marc Evan Jackson) – a match made in pedantic heaven, and if I had to pick a favorite recurring character, I’d probably pick this water snack professor. And in season five, Rosa painfully came out to her parents as bisexual. The homophobia and racism Holt had experienced throughout his career were always part of his story, and Rosa negotiating her new identity became an equally organic part of her.
This makes it sound hopelessly serious and dignified. It was not. It’s not. It’s endlessly funny, from its famous and acclaimed cold vents (I could see Dianne Wiest’s forever) through perfect eccentricity built in small steps over the seasons so that you believe in every inch of what is objectively a towering madness, from Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), and from Halloween heists – plotted as perfectly as a farce. It’s full of Holt’s exacting standards (small talk is for strangers and crooks) and perennial wisdom (“Don’t trust any child who chews gum-flavored gum. Don’t trust any adult who chews gum. Never vacation in Banff” ), and guest stars which were never less than sensational.
However, a special mention must go to two of them. Craig Robinson’s purity of vision and purpose as Jake’s nemesis/singing soul mate, career criminal Doug Judy, and Jason Mantzoukas’ dedication to his turn as agent of chaos Adrian Pimento (“No, no, no, I don’t mess with computers, okay? died of dysentery on the Oregon Trail, I thought, no thanks. I’m done with this”) Hope it will be enjoyed and revered as long as streaming platforms exist.
It’s been great. A rare gift – and rarer still as a gift the whole family could enjoy, at least if Pimento wasn’t on screen – that will be missed, no matter how well repeated viewings hold up (and they do – the first five seasons on a Netflix loop) were the only thing standing between me and the pit of despair during two years of pandemic and lockdown). Forgive the sentimentality, Captain Holt, but I love you all. Nine-nine!