By Talia Kliot
For many students, retreating into the worlds of Netflix is a popular ways to destress after a long day. When we find ourselves in need of a new show to binge watch, there are hundreds of colourful trailers waiting to distract us as we procrastinate our schoolwork. Although I can appreciate a drama from time to time, I live and breathe sitcoms. With this in mind, however, I’ve always been frustrated by the use of jokes that mock minorities. These conflicting realities often leave me feeling flustered. However, my current favourite show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, proves that a successful sitcom can be simultaneously hilarious and respectful. In fact, it has recently been going above and beyond in addressing important and current social issues.
First and foremost, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a diverse representation of both actors and characters. Not only is there diversity in the races and sexual orientations of the actors in real life, but the characters they portray also deal with racism and homophobia that they themselves face in today’s society. For example, the character Rosa Diaz faces the challenge of coming out as bisexual. The show explores the reality of not being accepted by one’s parents after revealing a part of themselves, in a way that is both heartfelt and relatable.
In addition, Raymond Holt (the captain of the precinct) recounts the frustrations he experiences while being a black and openly gay cop in the 60s and the prejudices he still faces as a respected professional. Last season, going hand in hand with the incidents of police brutality against black males, the character Sergeant Terry Jeffords was stopped, assaulted, and handcuffed by a police officer while searching a predominantly white neighbourhood for his daughter’s lost doll. He showed them his badge before the situation escalated and filed a report against the officer who wrongfully assaulted him. The show addresses the presence of racism and homophobia in our reality, while providing insight in regards to dealing with hate.
The recent episode “He Said She Said” is also a stellar example of a timely issue that Brooklyn Nine-Nine sheds light upon. Aired in an era wherein sexual assault allegations are finally beginning to have a little more gravitas, it explores a case in which a successful business woman is sexually assaulted by her co-worker.
While a viewer might assume that pressing charges is the only thing to do in this situation, the episode brings up the dilemma of whether she feels it is worth it to try and obtain the justice she deserves as she may risk losing her job. She ultimately decides to seek justice, propagating a message of hope and strength to viewers with similar experiences.
We also gain another perspective on sexual assault in the workplace when Amy Santiago, a sergeant working on this very case, opens up about her own experiences. She explains that she has been assaulted by higher ranking officers throughout her life, but never dared to speak up in fear that her pretty face and silence were her main causes of success. This is a phenomenon that many women face today, and I heavily salute this television program for attempting to raise awareness on this subject.
The most commendable aspect of the show, however, is the way it manages to comment on these important issues while still remaining true to its comedic genius. While other shows might boast their inclusive casts and thoughtful storylines, many of them still struggle to get their humour across while staying true to the serious nature of the topics being discussed. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has learned to balance when to be sincere and when to be silly, never once crossing the line with a racist, homophobic, or insensitive remark. With that being said, for your next binge-watching session, rather than cringing through jokes in bad taste, give Brooklyn Nine-Nine a shot. You’ll be laughing out loud, I promise.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine series image/ via: fox.com