Few shows manage to sustain a hilariously consistent tone throughout their entire run. Even fewer manage to run for five years without having ups and downs in their writing.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine isn’t one of those shows.
There’s an amazing quality to this show that’s worthy of celebration: it manages to surprise the audience with a tremendous familiarity that’s both comforting and interesting. And incredibly, uncannily funny. Five seasons in, when the audience could’ve been tired of the same story-lines and the same characters, when repetition could’ve been its worst enemy, Brooklyn manages to avoid every possible issue by keeping story-lines fresh and exciting.
It’s been five years, give or take, and they manage to make us laugh as much as we laughed in the Pilot.
Last night’s episode was the perfect synthesis of what this show is constantly trying to prove: that its got more stories to tell, that it can keep on going with the same hilarity as it always has, that it remains one of television’s most important and award-worthy shows.
Weeks away from their wedding, Jake and Amy embark on their separate bachelor/ette parties with the exciting promise that they will be legendary nights to be remembered forever. But, as it always happens, their nights don’t end up being quite as great as they had imagined.
The best thing about this episode, however, isn’t seeing these characters in this predicament. It is seeing them together, and watching them be a part of something that celebrates friendship, trust, and camaraderie in the best possible way.
THE BACH BOYS
There are so many great things about this team that it’s hard to figure out where to begin. But the promise of seeing Holt being an active part of a bachelor party already was the best premise ever for hilarity to ensue. Because, if we thought Captain Raymond Holt was going to be cold and distant and clad in his usual no-nonsense attitude, boy were we wrong. This episode not only proved that Raymond —as he asks to be called in this episode, to much of Jake’s delight— has some robot-like equivalent to a wild side, but that he is as funny while intoxicated as he is when he’s seriously managing our favorite precinct.
To be honest, at first glance, it’s hard to tell the difference, but drunk Raymond is a hoot to have around. His excitement to be a part of Jake’s bachelor party is enchanting, heart-melting, aw-eliciting. And Jake’s joy when he realizes Holt’s willingness is so incredibly contagious that we’re practically forced to wear smiles from the cold open. Horndog Raymond is ready to party, and so are we.
And so here’s the parting point for the episode: a bunch of colleagues —friends, rather— about to let loose on a night out to celebrate that Jake will soon be married to the love of his life.
The greatest thing about all of this, about this team up and about the way they react to the situations they find themselves in, is that they’re as relatable and as human as possible. We’ve all been in their position at some point in our lives. Charles has been planning this party for ten years —even before Jake met Amy, however baffled Jake is about that— and they all want to make him happy, so they go along with his excruciatingly long and, let’s be honest, quite unnecessary scavenger hunt that promises to be epic despite how boring and long it sounds. Honestly, just hearing him explaining it makes the audience groan in loathing. But Holt and Terry and Jake go along with it in the beginning, because that’s what friends do. They accept each other’s eccentricities because they love and care for each other.
But this episode goes beyond all that, beyond what Brooklyn Nine-Nine usually explores about friendship and the acceptance it entitles, to talk about and reflect on the importance of honesty and communication in these relationships. Holt, Terry and Jake opt for ditching Charles’s plan to have some fun of their own before rendezvousing with Charles at the end scene of his party —a steak and alcohol full boat— which is what any one of us would’ve done. But they are severely scolded by the show’s narrative because of their actions. Jake misses out on meeting one of his Die Hard idols —although he does get to near the end— and will now seemingly forever be hated by Bruce Willis. But even worse still, he ends up hurting Charles’s feelings.
Because, at the end of the day, the healthiest relationships are those based on mutual trust, respect and honesty. Terry, Holt and Jake learn it the hard way this episode, but end up becoming bigger and better people because of it. It’s just another step in Jake’s character development, but it’s a big step in Charles and Jake’s relationship growth. They are mutually open about their feelings —something so refreshing to see in a male friendship on television and in general— and through it they learn important things about each other.
Charles, in his own way, was being selfish. He wrongly assumed that something that made him happy would also make Jake happy. Meanwhile, Jake simply wanted to have a great time with his best friends and celebrate that he will soon be married. But the culmination of their argument was healthy and mature, sincere and honest in the sweetest way. Sure, their relationship will mutate after Jake gets married, but with this, we’ve all come to understand —the characters themselves included— that their friendship is strong enough to overcome any and all obstacles. Their personal growth and their individual development has allowed them to be different people with different priorities and motivations, and yet still be able to maintain a nurturing friendship.
The episode also proved friendships are a work in process. They constantly have to be taken care of, protected, fought for. Jake and Charles are constantly doing so, and so they get compensated for it. But they will have to work on it as long as they want to remain friends.
Beyond that, the bachelor side of last night’s episode gave us jokes that are instant classics and will indisputably be among the fandom’s favorites. Raymond actually attempting a “title of your sex tape joke” may have made Jake incredibly giddy, but it made us howl in laughter. Jake’s facial expressions —courtesy of Andy Samberg’s talent— in the scene where they were trying to fool Charles into thinking they hadn’t thrown their own version of the bachelor party where they called each other the Steak Studs were among his best. And Charles’s photo slideshow in the background itself deserves an Emmy.
Honestly, it was adorable and hilarious.
GIRLS GONE MODERATE
The women’s own party had nothing to envy the men’s, however, because honestly, if you thought a party with Gina and Rosa wasn’t going to be funnier and funner than one with Holt and Terry, have you even been watching the show? Amy’s best friend Kylie is always a great addition to storylines —her debut in “Chasing Amy” was very welcome— and their mutual geekiness and type A personalities let their own form of a bachelorette party take center stage in a comedy gold scenario.
But this girl-only night —featuring Hitchcock and Scully— did something more than prove that women can be hilarious by themselves. It proved, for the second week in a row, that women can and will be incredibly supportive of each other. It proved that they have each other’s backs, that they will not be pinned against each other and they do not have to compete with each other.
It also proved that women are allowed to have their own sexual and romantic life without anyone criticizing them for it.
When the episode’s press release hit our screens, a lot of fans were initially critical of Amy’s apparent one night stand with a guy from her wedding band. Honestly, it wasn’t the fandom’s proudest moment. But this episode’s storyline, while being centered on how ‘wild’ these women had been in their lives, demonstrated that every single lifestyle is perfectly valid and acceptable. Sure, Rosa and Gina were initially critical about Amy’s perhaps overly mundane, boring, and moderate life choices, but by the end of the episode, they were incredibly receptive and supportive of her. So Amy’s never changed lanes without signaling. And? So what if she’s never had a one night stand? So what if she reads the terms and conditions? We all see how Jake screwed up by booking the wedding band without reading the terms and conditions.
So who is the dumb one now, huh?
The point is that Amy’s lifestyle ends up being celebrated by the ladies. Rosa offers to change drinking games not because Amy is boring, but because her particular choices are different from hers or Gina’s or Kylie’s, and so they will have to get her drunk a different way.
But despite Amy’s slight change in demeanor throughout the episode, she is never scolded for being who she is. Sure, she becomes bolder and braver and a little bit wilder when she has to save her wedding from disaster by burning the contract, but the episode doesn’t try to validate that particular personality as the correct one. The episode embraces her personal wish to be more laid back just as it embraces her high-strung personality. Much in the same way the 99th episode did, it attempts to throw Amy a different way, but ultimately proves to the audience that the reason we love Amy Santiago as much as Jake does —or even more, if that’s even possible— is because of who she is, not because of who anyone else thinks she should be.
Couple this amazingly feminist point of view with Rosa constantly actively voicing how much she supports Amy, and with Gina promising not to make fun of her all night, and you have the recipe for perfection. Or, damn near perfection.
Yes, we enjoyed Amy burning the contract whilst standing on a bar and inviting everyone to shots. And yes, it was hilarious to see her accepting that her one night stand wasn’t actually a one night stand. But even better was seeing her stand up for herself, for who she is and for the choices she’s made.
Plus, her actually saying her night was supposed to be about the women bonding and now “it’s starting to be about some dude” with the utmost disgust and disappointment is forever the greatest feminist mood. Honestly.
Special brownie points to the always extremely amusing Chelsea Peretti for gifting us with an insult-controlling Gina that proved to be just as hysterically funny as regular Gina.
By the end of the episode, we were disappointed only by the fact that we couldn’t see more of these characters in these situations. And yes, okay, maybe we were disappointed because we didn’t get a Jake and Amy kiss in this episode either. But the commentary on friendship —male and female— was worth it, and the episode’s general comedic tone was exceptional.
At this point, the only thing left to do is stand in front of FOX’s executive offices with a copy of each episode and force them to watch them for as long as they have to before they realize that not renewing this show is the greatest mistake they could possible make in their life. A show that manages to sustain more than half an episode with three drunk leads that never once fall into the drunk clichés is a show that has to stay on the air. And a show where four ladies on their own can be as hilarious as the men they share screen with and still provide one of the greatest feminist points of view on sexual and romantic lives not only deserves to be on the air, but it also deserves to be promoted and celebrated twice as much as Brooklyn Nine-Nine is.
So I will not ever give up on trying to get this show renewed for a new season.
Join me, won’t you?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sundays at 8.30/7.30x on FOX.