Despite the silly title, this week’s episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine dealt with a serious issue: the systemic racism still prevalent in our society and how cops play a huge role.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has always been quietly progressive–with it’s diverse ensemble and small jabs at countless social issues–but this is the first time they’ve tackled an issue head on as a main storyline. And they tackled it WELL–especially considering B99 spends most of it’s time cracking jokes…this turned out to be a pretty unfunny hour (in a good way).
It started with Terry wanting to move up the ranks in the NYPD. Holt suggested he apply for a special “liaison” job which included a very long application. So while he filled it out, Jake and Amy picked up his twin daughters, Cagney and Lacey, and brought them home. On the way, they dropped Cagney’s “moo moo” (blanket) out the window, so Terry had to go out and look for it in his neighborhood at night. A cop approached him, weary of a “black man out in this neighborhood at this time of night”. The cop wouldn’t even give Terry a chance to talk before accusing him of being argumentative and restraining him. Finally, the other cop looked Terry up in the system for proof of his identity, but the situation really shook Terry up, understandably.
Of course, Terry tried to be mature and peaceful by inviting this other cop to meet over dinner and discuss the situation. While he hoped it would go well and the man would apologize, he ended up just insinuating that he really is a total racist. The rest of the 99 got pretty mad about this–Rosa even wanted to wreck his car, but Terry felt the best thing to do was just file a complaint. He was surprised and hurt when he found out that Holt didn’t want to file it. While it seemed at first that maybe Holt was just afraid to stir the pot, when Terry pressed him, we learned that Holt just doesn’t want Terry to seem like a whistleblower (of sorts). It’s possible that this could come back and haunt him (…and the societal issues keep racking up). Terry tells Holt that he became a cop because he wanted to be a superhero when he was younger. He wants to do good and make change…and he wouldn’t be making any if he let this guy go without reprimand. Holt finally realized that he’s worked so hard to get to his position so he can help people like Terry, so they filed the report.
In return, Terry missed out on that new job (we don’t know for sure if it was because of the report), but the silver lining was that maybe this cop will think twice before he commits a prejudice act like that again. So Terry learned first hand that this sort of “progress” can come at a cost…but it’s a fight worth fighting.
Hopefully, everyone who watches this episode will see it as a peaceful and smart look into some of the racial injustice so many people are still experiencing. Hopefully, people will see it and agree that Terry was treated terribly for no reason. Hopefully, smart TV writing like this will continue to happen and it can incite a change in perspective to all who see it and need it. But I also know some people will watch this and see it as an “attack on cops”; if you do see it that way, please remember that this is a show ABOUT good, brave cops; this week just happened to also feature a cop that wasn’t so good.
Spread kindness, not hate. 🙂
Let’s finish with dialogue between Gina and Jake on racism (when Cagney and Lacey had questions about what was going on with their dad):
Gina: Oh come on, Jake. Just explain the deep rooted institutionalized racism that remains pervasive in our country to this day.
Jake: Gina, they’re children.
Gina: So put it in a sooong, Jake! Watch this raaaacism, raaacism, raaaciiismm.
*okay you need to go watch it obviously typing out the dialogue doesn’t do it justice*