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Adams' Analysis - The Wonder of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Cut Down In Its Prime

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“And now, a message of hope.

Everything is garbage.

You find something you care about, and it's taken from you. Your colleagues, your dream job, your mango yoghurt. Never love anything. That's the lesson.”

We can now add Brooklyn Nine-Nine, killed in the line of duty, to that list. That duty? Providing some of the best entertainment available on television in 2018.

Like the best comedies, its premise is simple: a story about the hijinks of a police precinct in New York, with the complete repertoire of players. A goofy, charming lead; his over-the-top best friend; a neurotic colleague; a restrained, brutal badass; a tank of a man; the stoic, emotionless comic genius; the mischievous sidekick.

But if you’re looking at that list and disagreeing with such limited, somewhat reductive descriptions — you’re correct.

These characters, as they appear now, don’t fit into categories so simply. Certainly, they exist within a basic role, but they have since grown all aspects of their personality. So when Captain Holt explains, completely deadpan, that Twitter need not have expanded its character limit because “140 characters is far more than anyone needs to make a point,” it can be just as funny as when he breaks from his shell and screams “BONE.”

It keeps things simple. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has no reason to overcomplicate its storylines or its characters; what Dan Goor and his team of talented writers have done, particularly in the show’s past two seasons, is truly impressive. Comedies succeed when its characters drive everything and that is the case so strongly with Brooklyn Nine-Nine that the cases tackled often fade into obscurity, because the plot doesn’t matter. You’re more likely to remember Jake correcting Amy’s grammar than the episode’s NYPD plot.

This show works so well because it understands its characters, it knows precisely how they’d react in any given situation and manages to use that to comedic advantage. Jake freaking out when he goes to Fox Plaza. Amy’s joyful expression whenever she gets to do something nerdy and organised. Terry’s anger at the wheels with his dollhouse. Gina having a Holt soundboard app. Hitchcock knowing how Snapchat works. All of them fit into what you’d expect, but they’re all wonderful in their own right.

What has been especially great in the last two seasons is the show’s commitment to tackling wider issues, covering racism, sexism, prison, bisexuality, marriage, to name but a few. In doing this, the series has displayed just how much it understands the world, the various divisions that happen and are still happening across it on a daily basis, and does its utmost to shed light on those issues with a perfect blend of humour and sincerity.

In dealing with institutional racism — the first major issue the series devoted an entire episode to — Brooklyn Nine-Nine made full use of its platform, in every sense. This was an opportunity to provide social commentary on something that required social commentary, and it played out as the best episode to that point. Recent years have seen an influx of comedies that act more like dramas, and here was it working once again. Did it change anything? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean it was worth saying.

This season, its fifth and ultimately final year, has had praise heaped onto it for its depiction of Rosa Diaz, the stern-faced, aggressive, beyond-black-belt-in-everything detective who came out as bisexual to her friends and family just before Christmas. Her deep-seated kind-natured side was a major role in this, but that wasn’t hugely important. What mattered the most here was that Rosa, for all her confidence and shielded emotions, was understandably reluctant to come out to anyone. And when she did, it affected her. Her parents’ insistence that she was going through “a phase” was heart-breaking, for her and — through her — the viewers. Even the firmest of individuals cannot handle everything without fighting a battle, both internally and externally.

This was a moment that spoke directly to those in the LGBT community, a moment that reminded them that between all of the horrors and disappointments and mistreatments of this world, there is still positivity to be found. It helped, too, that actress Stephanie Beatriz revealed her bisexuality a year previous. In an instant, Beatriz and Rosa became an inspiration for those struggling against oppression and discrimination, just as Raymond Holt had from the series’ early days, just as Terry Jeffords (and Holt) had for those in the African-American community.

The series understands these people, just as it understands all people. Its nine-strong cast, every single one invaluable in their own way, manage to cover just about every person, every personality who would watch. There’s something for anyone, no matter if you appreciate the acknowledgement of the aforementioned mistreated communities, or if you — like me — get a kick out of something completely nerdy, like its seemingly heightened awareness of other television shows in the last year. I promise you, Jake, I will also check out some shows on Epix soon.

Through everything, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has stayed true to its objective: making people laugh. Even this week, with Rosa absent in the middle of a shooting for most of the episode, there was still plenty of comedy to be had. Amid its approach to serious, real-life issues, it was determined to make people laugh, damn it. It’s why the cold opens, of which there are so many you could watch on repeat all day and still find them hilarious, are so memorable, why the recurring jokes and the callbacks and the weird and wacky humour and the straight-faced comedy and the sophisticated jokes all resonate so much. The political, social, and socio-economic climates suck, so let’s watch two characters poke each other’s mumps instead.

What’s conflicting is that this cancellation isn’t too surprising. Last season, the ratings had been low enough that had Jake’s restrained panic in the courtroom been the final ever shot of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, it would have been utterly horrifying but also not out of the blue. From a general perspective, the same can be said of season five, although it has been clear since “HalloVeen”, the fifth and final Halloween-themed episode, that Goor planned this season as if it could be the last. As the pieces have fallen into place — starting with Jake and Amy’s engagement with their wedding set for the finale, to Rosa’s bisexuality, to Gina having her baby, to Amy passing the sergeant’s exam, to Holt being up for (and almost certainly getting) the commissioner job — it has been increasingly clear that if the series is to end, it will end not on a cliffhanger but with the most satisfying conclusion possible.

In his heart, Goor would have been desperately hoping for another season, just like the rest of us. But there’s a love and admiration for these characters, and it would be unfair to everyone — cast, crew, and viewers — to do them a disservice. And so, out of that comes the final season, written like a final season worthy of bragging rights as the ultimate final season.

Judgement on the show’s swansong should be withheld until a week on Sunday when everything comes to an end. But I’m confident it will be extravagant, emotional, and, above all, fitting. This season — this show — has so often been all of those things. Why change now?

It’s easy to be angry at FOX’s decision — particularly if they choose to revive Last Man Standing, a comedy which almost certainly wouldn’t go near Brooklyn Nine-Nine's sensitive topics with a barge pole. It’s easy to be sad, to be a weeping wreck curled up in the corner of the room wishing you were seven years old so you wouldn’t be judged if you had a cuddly toy for comfort.

It’s also okay to have these feelings.

But television shows, like all things, must come to an end. And for all that we can lament its cancellation, cut down in its prime, we must also applaud, and cheer, and speak uncontrollably and passionately about how truly wonderful Brooklyn Nine-Nine was and is. The show will not go on but its legacy and the impact it had on people can, and it must.

Anyways, I'm gonna go cry in the bathroom.

Peace out, homies.

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