It’s getting increasingly harder to rank the latest Brooklyn Nine-Nine episodes from funniest to least funniest. This second half of season five has been so steadily hilarious, the lines begin to blur when we try and figure out which, exactly, is the funniest episode we’ve seen. And if that’s not a testament to the writers’ strength and to their talent, I don’t know what is.
But even more than that, and at this point I’m practically openly campaigning for a season six renewal with every review, the show keeps demonstrating its strength beyond the laughs. Sure, it’s hardly impossible not to, at the very least, chuckle at some point during the episodes. But the show’s brilliance lies so beyond all of that —it flows into a terrain of politics and, most importantly in “Gray Star Mutual,” feminism.
The eighteenth episode of this season features one of the healthiest women-supporting-women storylines I’ve ever had the fortune to encounter. When she finds out Amy’s new place as Sergeant is making her doubt her excitement about a wedding dress, Rosa forces Amy to give in and try and find the perfect one.
Meanwhile, Jake and Boyle deal with Pimento showing up at the scene of Boyle’s food truck burn down, and Terry and Gina try to get Captain Holt to join Twitter.
And there wasn’t a single storyline that failed to entertain, amuse, and elicit genuine laughter from the audience.
I’M A HUMAN. I’M A HUMAN MALE.
One of the most satisfying things about having a character like Raymond Holt is that his no-nonsense demeanor basically equates him to a robot. Or, if you’d rather avoid the use of the term, a humanoid. Someone who’s mentality is so straight-forward in many senses is a writing gold mine, because confronting him with what we’ve now agreed to be daily life things such as social media platforms is already the juiciest parting point. So, evidently, having Captain Holt join Twitter had to be one of the most hilarious storylines we’ve seen him in.
Watching him struggle with too many characters to make a point, and even funnier still, watching him come up with a handle could’ve seemed over-the-top and hard to believe. Except it’s Holt. Of course he would always find the most practical solution to the question. Of course he wouldn’t understand the unsaid rules and the way social media works.
The jokes practically write themselves.
And pairing him up with the Twitter expert we already know Gina to be further highlights his utter innocent incompetence. Any Gina and Holt partnership is golden, as I’ve mentioned in previous episodes. But add Terry, who is just about the most patient person alive, to the mix and the episode is set out to be well on its way to becoming an iconic one.
So Cheddar ended up having an Instagram account with thousands of followers, and Holt demonstrated that the NYPD still values competence more than it values emoji use.
Oh, and if you check Twitter, you can find Holt’s one tweet account somewhere. If you can type in his handle correctly, that is.
But, because the writers are clever, they allowed this storyline to do more than just demonstrate how Holt is anything but technology savvy. They tied it in nicely with Holt’s race towards a Commissioner job, reminding us that his season arc will ultimately culminate in his acceptance —or not— as new NYPD Commissioner. And just like Amy’s new job as a Sergeant, if he does make it, it will raise a lot of questions as to what his involvement is going to be like in season six. If the show does indeed get a season six.
Which it absolutely should.
YOU WANNA CALL THE COPS? I AM THE COPS.
But if last week I was complaining about a rather less-strong Jake and Charles storyline in Nutriboom, the writers seem to have answered my prayers with last night’s episode. Because alas, this was the bromance kind of episode we deserve from Jake and Charles sharing a storyline. Both of them tracking down who burned down Boyle’s annoying food truck with the help of one Adrien Pimento had everything.
(If you read this in Stefon’s voice, give yourself extra credit.)
Starting from the food truck version of Mad Max, it had the classic Jake and Charles elements we were a little starved from. A crazy case, an even crazier guest star, and authentic, classic brotp banter from one of the show’s most comical duos. Seriously, Samberg and Lo Truglio together are comedy gold.
Plus, Andy Samberg’s facial expressions were practically 90% of his role in this episode. They were so on point, so oddly specific to the strange situation he was undoubtedly living each and every minute of this episode, that they were funnier than the way he delivered lines —and that was incredibly funny. But Jake’s overall uncomfortableness watching Charles handle the crazy food truck world, or while having to deal with Pimento’s eccentric and insane actions showed us not only how much our favorite detective has matured over the years, but also how incredibly serious and professional he can be despite his often laid back and even immature attitude at times.
Real, honest kudos to Joe Lo Truglio for again portraying so well the psychotic Charles we saw back in The Negotiation. There’s a fine line between making a character’s insanity real and making it over-the-top, and he navigates it with an admirable precision. Boyle is over the top, competitive, very scream-y, incredibly enraged. But we believe it. That’s the Charles we know.
But props also go to Jason Mantzoukas, who brought back Pimento’s actual insanity with remarkable ease. We’ve known Pimento to be straight up crazy and demented, deranged, but something about Mantzoukas’s performance always ended up making him somewhat lovable. He could’ve been a lunatic that was hard to relate to and the audience wouldn’t believe, but the writers made him go through some really relatable problems —albeit through his crazy-ass filter— and it ultimately made him a psychologically unstable character, sure, but one that we could almost relate to.
It must be said, though, that his character shines the brightest without a romantic relationship with Rosa. However funny and strange that relationship was —and however oddly right it felt— both characters fully reach their potential when they’re not dependent from each other. The couple made sense on paper and on screen, but an exaggerated character such as Pimento has to live on his own. He has to be something the others try to unsuccessfully calm down and deal with. Ultimately, he’s funnier when he’s not entangled.
Plus, his Jeffersonian “What did I miss?” plot line was excruciatingly funny. And watching Jake and Boyle deal with his constant outbursts —of cathartic joy or anger we don’t know, it’s still hard to tell— was wonderful.
By the way, watching Jake mention the wedding so many times made my heart grow two sizes. Grinch style.
But now for the real joy of this episode. The one reason —if there is only one reason— to watch this episode.
And, more specifically, Amy Santiago being the ultimate badass in a wedding dress.
And Rosa Diaz.
And, more specifically, Rosa Diaz supporting Amy Santiago being the ultimate badass in a wedding dress.
There’s a lot of things Brooklyn Nine-Nine does right. It does racial representation and inclusion right. It does LGBT visibility right. It does healthy relationships and partnerships right.
This episode, as it’s done in many others, it did feminism right.
Rosa and Amy’s partnership, unconventional as it may sound because of their drastically different personas, was something beautifully established way back in the show’s first season, when Rosa promised to have Amy’s back in a precinct full of dudes. One strong and complex Latina woman on the show is already cause to rejoice, but two of them is recipe for perfection.
And two strong and complex Latinas supporting each other and being friends?
Seriously, how is this show not renewed for a sixth season yet?
Because if Gray Star Mutual delivered anything, it was one of the best Rosa and Amy storylines of the show’s run. It was badass in its own way, it was hilarious, it was well-written and well-acted. It was, dare I say it, award deserving.
For too damn long women’s portrayals on television —and other media— have chastised women everywhere for just about anything they do, say or wear. For too damn long they’ve been forced to give up anything ‘girly’ in hopes that they would thus become strong female characters, and they’ve had to give up feelings and emotions and personal desires and ambitions in favor of men or of looking tougher. For too damn long they’ve been deprived of a natural growth, of a natural progression. Of a characterization that is true to women everywhere.
That reign of terror ends with Amy Santiago catching a perp with a wedding dress sash whilst wearing said wedding dress.
Because the brilliant thing about this storyline isn’t even that Amy channels her inner Wonder Woman to magnificently and elegantly take down a bad guy while wearing a wedding dress. The brilliant thing is that Amy is confronted with a Reign Of Terror-like conundrum at the beginning of the episode. She is now a Sergeant —a FEMALE Sergeant— in a precinct still full of men. She has to command respect, she has to command authority. She has to be ‘tough’, whatever that means. She can’t afford to be looking at wedding dresses for her own upcoming wedding.
That’s what other shows would make us believe. A woman who spends her time looking at wedding dresses is too ‘girly’, too ‘elegant’, too ‘princess-like’ to be an NYPD Sergeant. And then they would throw in the faces of women everywhere that the adjectives ‘girly’, ‘elegant’ and even ‘princess-like’ are negative.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, once again, is not here for your misogynist bullshit, my friends.
And the personification of their absolute refusal of this comes not in a man, but in a strong, independent, fierce, scary, emotionally complex Latina woman with a kick-ass name like Rosa Diaz. The one female character who, on the spot, seems like the complete opposite of what the common understanding of ‘girly’ seems to be is the one person allowed to snap Amy back to reality and make her realize that she is absolutely allowed to be looking at wedding dresses. That she is absolutely, 100% allowed to dream and think about what wedding dress she wants to wear. She is the person that demonstrates to Amy and to the rest of the women watching that being strong and tough has nothing to do with what you want to wear.
It has to do with who you are, with what decisions you make, and how much you believe in yourself.
A wedding dress does not limit or constrain Amy’s badassery or her capacity to do police work in any way. Her and Rosa going into a wedding dress shop doesn’t stop them from taking down a criminal.
Everybody say it with me now: a woman’s personal desires do not have to get in the way of her professional potential, capabilities or aspirations!
Amy Santiago proves it. Rosa Diaz proves it. Hell, even Gina Linetti proves it. Every single woman on this beautiful show proves their worth —and is celebrated constantly because of their worth— in such a dynamic way, in such a true way to women everywhere, that it’s hard not to jump up and applaud for ten straight minutes when Amy, still in a wedding dress I cannot stress this enough, has the perp arrested while she confesses to Rosa that she may actually like the sash.
And wedding gown-clad Amy shouting in the precinct the kind of dress she wants, the kind of dress she is more than allowed to wear for her wedding to the love of her life, is the ultimate realization that women are allowed to indulge in what they love, regardless of what that is. Regardless of how much society has tried to make them believe that it’s not adequate, apt, or professional in any way.
But as if all of this wasn’t enough, Gray Star Mutual proved that having two women share screen does not, in any way at all, force them to become rivals or enemies. It proved that women can be friends, that women can support women.
One more time for the people in the back: women can support women!
This episode was this idea in a nutshell. It was the perfect representation of this idea. It was the firm belief that not only can two fierce Latina women rule the screen, but that they can do so together, in a caring and loving friendship of mutual admiration and support.
Thank you for continuously proving that us, women everywhere, deserve to be represented as we are. Thank you for continuously proving our worth, for celebrating us for our imperfections, and demonstrating to the world that we need to be heard.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8.30/7.30c on FOX.