EVERYBODY OFF THE GROUND: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Makes Diversity Look Easy

Now that wasn't so hard.

There hasn’t been this kind of disregard for role norms since Whitney Houston’s Cinderella. While some productions may fumble when it comes to casting, Brooklyn Nine-Nine employs a variety of savvy character choices to cover how diverse the show obviously is.  

For example, although a female has been cast for the only office role (criminally cool Chelsea Peretti), she is seen doing everything but office work, not used just for dropping one-liners while dropping off coffee. Although the main character’s bro shtick is what’s in demand right now (Andy Samberg being himself), he still drops very witty jokes and displays actual competency. He also runs out of cool when appropriate, so he doesn’t dominate the other characters and every scene.

Even when an overused trope like having a large black sergeant in charge (Terry Crews killing it again) is included, it still comes off genuine when said tough guy is also a gentle family man with realistic cop phobias. He still gets to be the stereotypical brother that chews out others, but it comes off more like a tough dad than a loud mouth supervisor. Meanwhile, the other minority in charge is the captain (deadeye master Andre Braugher), who delivers such a straight-faced straight man that his obligatory homosexuality isn’t flung around with every little gesture or turn of phrase. His sexuality doesn’t get a chance to be a gimmick for a bad joke that never ends, sparing the actors and the audience.

Really surprising is the inclusion and lack of fetishizing of two latinas. Usually this is when the audience faces an onslaught of tasteless insinuations about ‘spicy’ officers. Thankfully, one of them is a nerdy rule lover (Melissa Fumero is adorable) that vies for authoritative attention and approval, while the other is a believable badass (power posing Stephanie Beatriz) without the tough foreigner routine, pulling off mysterious without the “exotic”.

Finally, it really gets men and women working platonically right. There’s a balance of male to female characters, which makes for many different internal relationships. Although some romantic angles are explored, two of which involved the resident unlucky-in-love schmo (Joe Lo Truglio is uncool and awesome), they all seem to reach logical conclusions instead of becoming forced sexual tension. Women characters too often are regulated to mere relationship props, so it’s refreshing to see the ladies remain untethered to the men around them.

Now that I think about it, I guess it is hard.

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