Given the current political climate, it feels impossible to envision a world in which we go back to enjoying Jake Peralta’s antics on Brooklyn 99. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a police comedy existing at all.
As police TV shows try to grapple with how to continue in the wake of 2020’s racial reckoning, Brooklyn 99 has already made their intentions to tackle police brutality clear.
Star Terry Crews previously revealed that the writers have already scrapped the four episodes they had written and plan to start over.
This was recently confirmed by both star Andre Braugher and creator Dan Goor, who said he just wants “to make sure we get it right.”
But as Braugher discussed the future of the show, it became clear that he wasn’t so sure they could pull it off. In an interview with Variety, he said,
“Brooklyn 99 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.”
That’s all well and good for season 8 but what about season 9? Season 10? Will they just do a single storyline in season 8 and then move on?
Brooklyn 99 did have an episode in season 4 that tackled racial profiling but that was a single episode. And having an episode here or there that tackle these systemic issues isn’t going to change the entire dynamic of the show.
The series has faced particularly harsh criticism over the years for idealizing the police and presenting what is essentially a non-racist, non-sexist police squad — aka a “fantasy” world, as star Stephanie Beatriz called it a few years ago.
But Brooklyn 99 certainly isn’t the only show to promote copaganda. It’s an entire genre that’s existed for decades.
In fact, it’s a genre that Braugher built his career on. He even admitted that he himself had “fallen prey” to copaganda. He explained,
“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.”
All in all, it sounds like the cast and crew of Brooklyn 99 has their hearts in the right place, but whether that will actually be enough… I’m skeptical. It’s hard to imagine a TV comedy tackling police brutality on a regular basis without fundamentally changing the series altogether.
In the meantime, the writing staff is hard at work, trying to make episodes that will tackle the rampant violence within the police force. As Andy Samberg explained, they’ll have to figure out how to make a show “that we all feel morally okay about.”
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