If you’ve had the chance to attend university then you’ve probably seen the myth of meritocracy disproved firsthand, but if you haven’t then following Brooklyn 99 is a good crash course replacement. The much-beloved cop-comedy fell into peril last year when it was unceremoniously dropped by the FOX network. Que the hysterical fan base begging on Twitter for its renewal. Five seasons in and we were hooked on this gaggle of oddly dedicated and caring police officers trying to clean up the dirty New York streets and reform the law enforcement institution. It just wasn’t fair. What would happen to the Halloween heist? Terry didn’t even get a chance to win yet.
Luckily, fans were not left into free fall for too long, when less than twenty-four hours later NBC brought Brooklyn 99 in from the cold and gave it a new home with their network. But even with this save at the eleventh hour our fears were far from over. After all we had no idea what this new network wanted to do to this one-of-a-kind sitcom.
Thankfully, season 6 proves that the 99 is as strong as ever, if only a little changed. Having finished season 5 with a cliffhanger, which made their almost-cancellation extra tragic, season 6 begins with resolving Holt’s position once and for all. He didn’t get the Commissioner job guys. The old straight white man, in this case John Kelly, won again. However, Captain Holt is made of sterner stuff, and after a minor crisis in which he accidentally crashes Jake and Amy’s honeymoon and threatens to quit police work altogether, he picks himself up and gets right back to it. Only now that his dreams of promotion have been dashed, he realizes there is nothing holding him back anymore from speaking up about the problematic aspects of law enforcement and demanding better accountability and change within the system.
Holt’s declaration is a good summation of how Brooklyn 99 has grown with this new season, as this theme of confronting injustice head-on echoes through many of the remaining episodes. In the episode titled, “He said, she said” the detectives must respond to a sexual assault case wherein the victim is routinely debased by her company and has no real options, but still continues to seek justice. We saw Jake and Rosa struggle between the sometimes disappointing dead-end results of police work and their inherent need to provide a victim’s family with answers to ease their pain. We even got Kevin in on it this season, with Holt and Jake trying to solve a burglary on his campus leading an unexpected but very welcome criticism of the elitist nature of such ivy league institutions.
This subversive call to action comes to a head with the second last episode “Sicko” in which the crew discovered that Commissioner John Kelly has been secretly wiretapping civilian phones to find leads to feed to his app, HotClues, a strategy that in addition to being creepy and wildly unethical is also an outright violation of the constitutional right to privacy. Yet, even for our rag-tag bunch, how does someone take down the Commissioner of the entire New York City Police Department?
As the season 6 finale “Suicide Squad” shows, it turns out you do so by assembling your own team of villains, which unlike the movie of the same name, is actually a funny and watchable episode. Holt and the 99 teaming up with Wunch, CJ, and the Vulture, is just as entertaining as it sounds and successfully leads to Commissioner Kelly’s downfall. Though unsurprisingly, Kelly gets away with more than he deserves by taking a private-sector job that pays much more, Wunch is his temporary replacement, and Holt must do a stint as a traffic cop to keep Terry at the 99 office. This may not be a picture perfect ending but, as we’ve discussed, Brooklyn 99 really nails the whole meritocracy is a lie idea. One of the many reasons we love this show.
However, critics were quick to complain that this season of Brooklyn 99 was far too political, read honest about uncomfortable social realities. The takeaway is that after this cancellation it seems like Brooklyn 99 is putting all their cards down on the table and not holding back anymore. From the start, this series has always balanced comedic workplace situations between the harsh realities of police work, and in season 6 this expanded into a place many fans have been waiting for by dealing with these serious issues with honesty, sensitivity, and even a bit of humor. After all, we might not be cops, but we know it’s not about sitting around and planning heists with your coworkers all day long.
Speaking of, since season 6 premiered mid-season on NBC we were left to wonder how they would manage to do their classic Halloween episode with the off timing. Of course they got creative and explained that the heist had been deferred this year due to an emergency, leaving the heist to fall on Cinco de Mayo instead. Which even if this was done due to scheduling conflicts, it still kept one of our favorite 99 plots fresh and exciting.
That being said, it should be clear that season 6 of Brooklyn 99 isn’t exactly flawless. There were multiple plots that seemed either incredibly predictable or just bizarre. Rosa’s love life was a recurring topic that really didn’t lead to anything serious or new. The transcendent Gina Linetti left early on in the season, with a follow up episode revealing that she did not keep up communication with the 99 team, not even Jake who has been her friend since childhood. Not to mention the confusing matter of Amy and Jake realizing that they somehow haven’t discussed whether or not to have children. But between the progressive theme of this season and the top-notch acting we’ve come to expect, we can deal with these half-baked stories. Mostly, because we know that bones of this treasured comedy have remained the same.
As season 6 made blatantly clear this is still a show about good people working together in an endlessly difficult field trying to do their best by the people they serve. Sometimes they get the results they deserve and sometimes they really do not. Regardless, they will continue to face each situation as a team and with as much humor as needed. As a fan, it’s fair to say that Brooklyn 99 deserves so much more praise and attention than it gets, but considering we didn’t think they would even get season 6, we’ll take inspiration from our favorite sitcom heroes and laugh it off while we wait for season 7.