Bye-Bye 99, for the Second Time
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Over its eight-season run, “Brooklyn 99” has seen some ups and downs. Still, it has never failed to deliver some of the funniest and most endearing stories on television. Following a team of police detectives, the show has faced its fair share of criticism but still bounced back for a strong final season that tackles those critiques without losing its charisma.
“Brooklyn 99” centers around Detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) who works in the NYPD’s 99th precinct. Peralta and his team find themselves under the leadership of the stern Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) and must learn to work together and see past their differences as the seasons progress.
Throughout the show’s run, it has never failed to successfully combine genres, setting itself apart from the majority of both comedies and procedurals by featuring a unique mix of the two, (though it definitely leans towards the former). While most of the episodes feature a specific case, the focus is often more on the character interactions than the mystery of finding the criminal. The competitive nature of the characters and the differences in their personalities create a classic sitcom dynamic with many of the episodes featuring bets, team-ups, and the like, keeping the tone light in spite of more dramatic plot beats. “Brooklyn 99” also has a fantastic array of recurring characters. This talented extended cast never failed to bring a unique dynamic to the show, and some of its stand-out episodes can be credited to amazing guest performances.
Despite the success of “Brooklyn 99,” it was canceled by FOX after the end of its fifth season, leading to an outpour of protest from fans and industry figures alike. Their efforts were successful in proving the popularity of the show, as it was picked up by NBC just a day later. In the last three seasons at NBC, the show has managed to maintain its classic formula while also evolving to include the innovations to storytelling and character writing that a long-running sitcom needs to stay lively and entertaining.
In its last season, “Brooklyn 99” emphasizes the personal lives of the characters more, focusing on their growth as people outside of their jobs. During the first few seasons, most of the characters struggle to maintain a healthy personal life, focusing mainly on their police work. Over the last few seasons, however, the characters have come to have more balance between those two aspects of their lives. Peralta and his now-wife Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) learn how to balance taking care of their baby with work. Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and Holt, on the other hand, have both come to value their personal lives and beliefs over their careers, leading Diaz to quit the force because of her conflicting values and Holt to consider leaving because of his marriage problems. Despite character development being something that spans the entire show, the last season really puts it front-and-center in a new way.
While it’s easy to love a good workplace comedy, it’s hard for many fans to stay on board with the implications of a show about cops in the current age. The issue of police brutality is nothing new, but much of the accountability around it is. During the entire run of the show, the ideas of corruption, dirty cops, and police brutality have been continuously brought up but never as head-on as in the final season. From episode one, every character is included in the discussion without this feeling forced—except when the show wants it to. The different takes on the issue from all of the characters definitely make for a better story, but it is still clear what the main characters’ stances are as a whole, especially through their season-long strain with higher-ups in the force’s bureaucracy. Overall, the season does well to address the problem while still blending in its usual antics.
Season eight of “Brooklyn 99” takes on a more serious approach to the lives of its characters and tackles difficult problems in the world today. Though the discussion of police brutality is difficult, the show does its best to acknowledge and own the tension, addressing the complex issue by taking on a level of moral nuance surprising for a sitcom. At the same time, it manages to balance both the work and personal lives of the main characters in a way that, though different from the rest of the series, works well for the show and makes the characters even more relatable than before. With the success of its last season, “Brooklyn 99”’s memorable run comes to a close in a bittersweet but tasteful way.