Friday, September 17, 2021

Bye-Bye Brooklyn 99

Sometime before COVID, Jamie was watching that comedy cop show on Hulu that I think was on Fox.  I knew about it, and found it curious that it co-starred Andre Braugher, who I'd seen in several things, but had thought was a fine dramatic actor from his Homicide: Life on the Streets days (a show I did not watch religiously, but would tune into specifically for Braugher).  I liked Andy Samberg well enough, but I was mostly not checking out Fox sitcoms at the time.  

Well, as often happens when - in pre-COVID times, when I wasn't here all the time - Jamie was watching episodes on her own.  And she'd watch them if I was around and doing other things, and I'd I listen enough that I eventually I would stopped what ever else I was doing and watch a couple of episodes.  Anyway - I was into it.  

I planned to catch up after she went to bed, starting over myself on Hulu, but she offered to re-watch the show with me from the beginning, which is always a sign it's an okay show.

I dunno.  Comedy is subjective.  I can't sell you on a joke or a flavor of humor, but there was no one on the cast who bugged me or I found didn't contribute to the whole, and, on the whole, I found the show hysterical.  

Sure, like a lot of shows, it kind of became about itself, and in comedy terms, that means going to a familiar well too much instead of surprising you, which is usually the best laugh, anyway.  But it did manage some character arcs in there if you were watching regularly, for all the main characters.  Well, maybe not Hitchcock and Scully.  

There were amazing cameos and guest roles.  Vanessa Bayer leaps immediately to mind.  But she was one of a few dozen that appeared and got to be wildly silly.  And, of course, there were recurring segments, from the Halloween Heist to the annual return of Craig Robinson as Doug Judy.  Or, of course, Tim Meadows as... you know, you just watch the show some time.

A workplace comedy, the diversity of the characters didn't go unspoken or uncommented upon, but never felt tokenish as the characters were specific, hilarious and so well realized (well, Terry Crews essentially played himself for 8 seasons, but who's counting?).  Really, the show said a lot through what it didn't say, make fun of or comment upon - partially because by the time it hit the air, it was deeply reflective of workspaces most of us inhabit.  TV had kind of grown up.  Maybe halfway through season 1 it did strike me that a show would simply have two Latinas because neither character lived in stereotypes or sitcom oversimplification - and ten years ago, you'd get exactly one Latina detective.  The marriage of Captain Holt and Kevin (plus their dog, Cheddar) was played for laughs only because of how cartoonishly uber-square the stable, parental figures on the show were shown to be (honestly, Kevin's eye rolling and snobbishness was a favorite bit for me).  

If Seinfeld or (choke) Friends showed a certain sensibility that's a time capsule of the conversations of the 1990's, Brooklyn-99's real legacy may well be how it reflects this era and how people can be with each other.  I'm not against acerbic humor, but I also welcome the pre-Ted Lasso model of kindness and working to support your friends (especially workplace people) that Brooklyn-99 made its hallmark.  It also returned to the air for it's final season as a show about cops in a post George Floyd world, and it didn't avoid the topic.  

But, it also never went full "a very special episode", even when characters had serious beats.  

Anyway, I'll miss it.  But, hey, we got eight seasons of a good show, and I think they hung it up before it went stale.  Yeah, I'll likely follow the actors from this as they go off and do new things.


Simon MacDonald said...

I look forward to the time in which season 8 shows up on Netflix. My daughter and I really love this show.

I know you said, Hitchcock and Scully didn't get character arcs but I do love the episode from season 6 where they flashback to the 80's where they are actually good cops. I feel like we are only seeing the end of their arc where they have already done all the stuff that Jake and crew are getting up to and they are just tired. Just waiting for retirement at this point and who among us hasn't worked with folks like that?

The League said...

Oh, yeah! That flashback was terrific and background was great. I don't personally consider it an "arc" - as in you watch them grow from one thing over another over the course of the show, but it was some great characterization. And, yes... I have definitely worked with quite a few Hitchcocks and Scullys, in their own way.

Simon MacDonald said...

Me too. There are a lot of folks out there that don't want to learn anything new. That's a real issue when you are working in high tech and the person doesn't want to let go of Visual Basic.