The final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine came with intense pressure to deliver humor while also reflecting the changed world it inhabits.
That Brooklyn Nine-Nine succeeded is a credit to its showrunners and writing staff. Sitcoms and dramas had one of two choices as a result of the pandemic. They could live in a world where the pandemic doesn’t exist or they could incorporate it into their series. Wisely, they did the latter. Cop drama and comedies have to change across the board. How do you make entertainment that also reflects reality? Following the death of George Floyd, a comedy like Brooklyn Nine-Nine had to change. They had to present a world that reflected reality while also finding a way to bring the humor. The events of last summer really made it hard to find humor in a series about cops. And yet, the writing staff found a way to bring both humor and reflect the reality.
In the eighth season premiere, Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) decides to leave the police force feeling that she can no longer work for the NYPD. The primary reason for this is last year’s tragic death of George Floyd. Diaz ends up becoming a private investigator but never strays too far from the Nine-Nine. Much like fellow NBC series Superstore, you could frequently see both series regulars and background actors wearing masks.
While the pandemic and George Floyd protests shape the season, other things come into play, too. Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) and Kevin Cozner have seen their relationship fall apart. Det. Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) being Peralta means planning his usual hijinks to get them back together. You cannot blame Peralta for trying. It’s one way to bring the humor especially during this season. Another episode sees Peralta, Lt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), and Det. Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) investigating a murder. Boyle’s life will never be the same. This episode also works as a Knives Out spoof.
There are some instances where they find ways to incorporate real life into the series. One is when Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) pitches a reform proposal that would better serve both the NYPD and New York residents. This is a strong example of what the police could be rather than how they are otherwise seen. To no surprise, NYPD Union President Frank O’Sullivan (John C. McGinley) is not a fan of this reform proposal and he will go to all lengths to mess with her.
One such example of how policing isn’t working is in the season premiere when a Black woman gets assaulted because she did not want to show the contents in her bag to the police that were questioning her. She goes to Diaz and this is where the Nine-Nine gets involved. Of course, the body cameras were corrupted and so the police got off without fault. Once this was brought up in the episode, there’s a lengthy explanation of everything that happens with the appeals process and how long it takes. Suffice it to say, the two cops get off way too easy. Where is the justice in this?
Another instance saw Det. Peralta suspended following his harassment and intimidation of a suspect. Even though the suspension was only five months, it didn’t feel that long because he was back in the office in no time. This makes you wonder just how many months the season spanned. In terms of Peralta, he also must make some important life decisions. How do you balance working and being a father? He and Amy have a son and this is a driving force of this season’s plot. It all culminates in the series finale in which Peralta deems it The Perfect Goodbye. He’s not the only one leaving because both Captain Holt and Santiago are moving on up.
The series finale could have gone a number of ways. They play up the comedy hijinks that Brooklyn Nine-Nine is known for. Gina (Chelsea Peretti) makes her return in the series finale, too. You really could not have a series finale without her. As the series comes to an end, Lt. Jeffords becomes the new captain of the Nine-Nine. Boyle has to figure out a way to move on without working with best friend Peralta. Of course, Det. Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller) and Det. Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) are both around, too. Brooklyn Nine-Nine may be among the last of its breed but it knew how to reflect a changing world in saying goodbye.
CREATORS: Dan Goor & Michael Schur
CAST: Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Joel McKinnon Miller, Dirk Blocker, and Andre Braugher