As Brooklyn Nine-Nine enters its eighth and final season, skeptics are wondering how the series will proceed given last summer’s endless police brutality. Among the skeptics? Brooklyn Nine-Nine star himself Andre Braugher.
Speaking with Variety, Andre wondered whether the police comedy could truly tackle such nuanced topics, especially after the brutal murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police. He explained,
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine has to commit itself, as a comedy, to telling the story of how these things happen, and what’s possible to deal with them. I don’t have any easy answers, nor do I have a window into the mind bank of this writing staff. Can you tell the same story? Can anyone in America maintain any kind of innocence about what police departments are capable of?”
“Can a comedy sustain the things that we’re trying to talk about? I don’t know. It could be a really groundbreaking season that we’re all going to be very, very proud of, or we’re going to fall flat on our face.”
Brooklyn Nine-Nine certainly has a near-impossible task ahead of them. Although the show addressed police brutality in a season 4 episode titled “Moo Moo,” the majority of the series revolves around an idealized police precinct. It’s one of the few things they’ve continually received flack about over the years.
Co-creator Dan Goor has already confirmed that season 8 will feature a storyline about police brutality. The writers also reported scrapped the first four episodes after George Floyd’s death — which is immediately evident in the season premiere.
What’s not evident, however, is just how much of season 8 will be dedicated to tackling the issues and how many episodes will go back to so-called “normal.” Andre himself didn’t even seem to have a clear idea of the direction of the show. He said,
“I have no idea what Season 8 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine is going to be because everything’s changed.”
Of course, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is just a small part of a much larger problem. Copaganda has been engrained in our culture for decades, with countless shows putting cops on a pedestal, showing them as “heroes” of the community.
It’s something that Andre has “fallen prey” to himself. His career was essentially launched based on his portrayal of Detective Frank Pembleton in Homicide: Life on the Street for six seasons in the 90s. He later took on a role as a cop in Hack for two seasons and again as a detective for five Kojack TV movies.
“I look up after all these decades of playing these characters, and I say to myself, it’s been so pervasive that I’ve been inside this storytelling, and I, too, have fallen prey to the mythology that’s been built up.”
“It’s almost like the air you breathe or the water that you swim in. It’s hard to see. But because there are so many cop shows on television, that’s where the public gets its information about the state of policing. Cops breaking the law to quote, ‘defend the law,’ is a real terrible slippery slope. It has given license to the breaking of law everywhere, justified it, and excused it.”
The number of cop shows is truly endless when you consider the popularity of shows like Law & Order (and all of its spinoffs), Southland, Criminal Minds, The Closer, The Shield, NCIS, NYPD Blue, Without a Trace, CSI, and countless others.
But unlike those other shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is at least trying to tackle police corruption and brutality. But will it actually succeed? Only time will tell.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs on NBC on Thursdays.