By: Alyssa Murphree, March 21, 2017
Like other workplace sitcoms, the Fox show Brooklyn Nine-Nine has everything you would expect from the genre. The office environment, the array of personalities trying to get along on the job, the extraordinary tasks that seemingly arise out of nowhere, and the comedians who make appearances in recurring roles. Even the character tropes have managed to stay consistent throughout the shows, years, and networks. There’s the deadpan boss, the sassy receptionist, the irresponsible one who still manages to get the job done, and the office slacker, among others. Shows that come to mind other than Brooklyn Nine-Nine are the wildly popular Parks and Recreation, The Office, and 30 Rock. When thinking about these shows, one thing that you may have noticed, or will now think about in retrospect, is that the majority of the humor, witty punch lines, and even respect within the workplaces is given to male characters. In the traditional male-dominated workforce, especially in corporate or office settings, men hold more powerful positions, are more respected, and their ideas are given higher priority. This is no shocking revelation. This is a significant reason the modern feminism movement exists. Brooklyn Nine-Nine however, is a special show. They break the mold of the traditional workplace sitcom by granting more than one female character the right to be among the most highly respected individuals in the workplace and with a sense of humor as well.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is set in the 99th Precinct of the New York City Police Department in Brooklyn. The show depicts the work and lives of the team of detectives within the precinct and may include drug busts, high speed chases and undercover detective work with a dash of double dates, Thanksgiving dinner, and office bets and competitions. The show is four seasons strong and has yet to lose its spark. Among the cast are Andy Samberg as the slightly immature detective Jake Peralta, Andre Braugher as the stern Captain Raymond Holt, Joe Lo Truglio as Jake’s best friend Charles Boyle, and Terry Crews as the strong, yet soft Sergeant Terry Jeffords. The female ensemble consists of Melissa Fumero as the hard-working Amy Santiago, Stephanie Beatriz as the dark and mysterious Rosa Diaz, and Chelsea Peretti as the sarcastic office administrator Gina Linetti. While each cast member brings something special to the table, it’s the women of the precinct who shine.
First there’s Amy Santiago, the intelligent, ambitious, and independent detective, who is one of the most successful in the precinct and is often head-to-head with Peralta in number of arrests made. Her aiming to please, “teacher’s pet” demeanor often makes her the butt of jokes among her colleagues, but she always proves herself with the quality of her work and her resilience. She is a highly-respected detective within the NYPD and tackles some of the toughest cases with grace.
Then there’s the woman of mystery, Rosa Diaz. Often compared to April Ludgate of Parks and Recreation, her deadpan, and often dark sense of humor earns her the respect she desires among her colleagues. She has a secret past as a ballerina, but these days you’ll see scaring perps into confessing, picking locks, and diffusing bombs. She takes pride in the fact that her coworkers know very little information about her and sometimes concerns them with her short fuse and apparent lack of empathy. Although she is the badass of the bunch, she does have a soft spot for dogs and is ultimately loyal when it comes to protecting her friends and fellow detectives.
Finally, there’s the lone civilian in the precinct, the administrator Gina Linetti. She is most often making fun of Boyle, chiming in to the detectives’ conversations with witty remarks, or reveling in her own narcissism when her face isn’t buried in her iPhone. Her self-proclaimed “spirit animal” is the wolf, as they are nature’s greatest predator. Her witty humor makes her a favorite among fans and leads to some of the most quotable one-liners of the series. While her job may not be in the forefront of the show, don’t be surprised if she ends up saving the day in the most unexpected way.
While the main character of Brooklyn Nine-Nine may still be a white male (Peralta), the show’s twists on traditional archetypes creates a sitcom so hilarious, that you don’t realize how progressive it truly is. It is implied through the writing that Peralta is a feminist, five out of seven main cast members are POC, one character is gay, and of course, we have the strong leading female ensemble. And while these traits are present throughout the series, they never become punch lines in the show. They simply depict those aspects of the character’s lives and how they have strengthened those individuals. For the leading ladies of the Nine-Nine, that strength is especially evident.