‘Brooklyn 99’ is one of those sitcoms that, far from getting worse after the third or fourth season, got better with each episode. Each year I further refined the formula… until it was finished.
Was it something of the audiences, like when “Scrubs” ended up in the trash after many dire decisions, including tearing down the hospital and replacing almost all the leads with bodiless characters? A little, yes. Because of tiredness of its stars, like that ‘The Big Bang Theory’ that ended when Jim Parsons said enough to the flesh and blood Sheldon to dedicate himself to the voice-over of ‘Young Sheldon’? It is not clear.
I am afraid that the decision was motivated, mainly, by more dramatic events, which had to do with real life and not with creative or corporate decisions. We will explain this and we will analyze the season, but be careful, cadets, that there are some guts.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd dies at the hands of the Minneapolis police: an agent presses his neck for more than 8 minutes with his knee. As a result of this event, and despite the pandemic, there are numerous protests that take up the slogan Black Lives Matter, denouncing institutional racism and police brutality.
In New York, these protests end in May and June 2020 with various violent and disproportionate police actions, to the point that the popularity of law enforcement falls and falls. Even their budget is cut, already monstrous in itself: to give you an idea, in 2022 their budget has been 10,000 million dollars (the anti-crisis measures of the Government of Spain for 2023 will be… of the same amount and they are for the whole country).
Be that as it may, since May 2020 is not a good time to have a comedy starring New York police officers and the seventh season of ‘Brooklyn 99’ ends in April of that same year. Come on, the gibberish catches them writing the new episodes.
As Terry Crews explained to an American media outlet, the events of that summer led to the fact that four already written episodes of the new season went straight to the trash can, and that production stopped until it was clear how to assimilate reality to its fiction.
Several months late, ‘Brooklyn 99’ premieres its last season in the summer of 2021 and, after ten episodes, says goodbye forever with the worst audience data in its history and a rough season. And that it was canceled by Fox after its fifth season and had landed on NBC.
Real problems, magic solutions
In the first episode of this eighth season, ‘Brooklyn 99’ takes the bull by the horns: Rosa (Stephanie Beatriz) leaves the police as a result of what happened with George Floyd. And Jake (Andy Samberg) tries to prove to his best friend that there are still good cops out there, just like him. However, they end up involved in a case of police brutality.
To express that anger against part of the police establishment and, also, so that it had a less nebulous objective than the body itself, the writers come up with Frank O’Sullivan (John C. McGinley, having a blast), the boss of the most powerful police union in New York. A guy who is an expert in defending officers at all costs, whether or not they are guilty of abuse: the personification of police impunity.
With this framework, and until the last episode, ‘Brooklyn 99’ decides to say goodbye and at the same time contribute their bit: Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and Captain Holt (Andre Braugher) design, throughout the season, a reform from the police to try to improve their performances and reputation, while their peers juggle the line between professionalism and buffoonery.
The 99 in a stopped elevator
After so many years, of having improved the relationships between characters and having extracted gold from its cast, it is hard to believe that the farewell season tastes so bitter. There is still chemistry between the cast, but at the same time they seem uncomfortable, as if they are all trapped and, as much as they love each other, wanting to leave.
The plots no longer make them come together so much except in the final firecracker, a double episode with the obligatory hit of Halloween, and sometimes they seem to come from two very different series. Especially the character of Rosa, a perennial reminder of what is wrong with the police, and at the same time forced to appear in all the chapters with strange excuses because she is part of the main cast.
On the one hand, Jake, Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio) or Terry (Terry Crews) have the cases of the week together with Rosa. At the same time, Amy begins balancing motherhood with work life, like Jake, before concentrating on police reform. Inexplicably, Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) is supposedly out of the country, blurring Scully (Joel McKinnon ) and limiting his interactions to bizarre video calls.
And at the height of the misplaced, Captain Holt, with a subplot that starts from his separation with Kevin ( Mark Evan Jackson ), although we all know that the second best couple in the series will end well , because they are made for each other .
Not a bad episode, but just a couple very good ones
One of the best, and at the same time worst episodes, is ‘The Hunt for Boyles’, a parody of ‘Punales por la espalda’ (‘Knives Out’) that pulls on the worst trope in a sitcom: the one for which a character is eccentric because all his family is The mania for turning something special into a routine, for turning a rare character into a mold for his entire family and, therefore, diluting his rarity and at the same time choking the viewer with it.
I know maybe I’m alone in this, but it’s a relief that there are no more episodes with Doug Judy (Craig Robinson), the most stretched joke in the history of the series. Maybe at first it could be funny to see a scammer kidding Jake, but his lurches are already boring and his last chapter, ‘PB and J’ is a constant groundhog day.
The rest of the episodes remain in line, with the aforementioned roughness, and the final firecracker stands out, of course, the two parts of ‘El ultimo día’. An assault full of surprises and reunions, very funny, although the thesis on which the episode revolves seems a bit out of character for Jake (and that we already saw, in last season, how he wanted to distance himself from his father’s legacy). We know that he wants to be a good father, but also that being a policeman is everything to him and that he would try everything in his power before giving up (for what? He is so defined as a policeman that it is impossible to imagine him in another job).
They have been able to give it a closure and even make a toast without their spirit faltering, but more chapters are missing. These cops really liked each other.
By the way, from its subplot about the demerits of the New York police, we must recognize the value of putting it on the table, but also the warmth of aiming for an overly happy ending, perhaps so as not to go bad with the forces of order. Amy and Holt manage to reform the body, as if it were as simple as repainting a place and changing the napkin rings.
It is not worth making blood about it, since the facelift is implicit in a creator, Michael Schur, determined to find and exploit the kinder face of routine office work (I work in ‘The Office’ in its American version) , the government machine (‘Parks and recreation’), the police and even the afterlife (‘The Good Place’, in which literally a devil becomes a force for good, just for starters).
The art of saying goodbye
The problem with the eighth season of ‘Brooklyn 99’, the real problem… is that it had already been eight seasons. They more than fulfilled the cycle of a sitcom and have managed to avoid some of the pitfalls, such as flanderization (when the peculiarities of a character devour her personality).
For example, Boyle started with more weight in the series, but was relegated as soon as he became more eccentric and, thank goodness, he was erased from all romantic subplots. Or when they erased Gina (Chelsea Perretti), one of those archetypes that are so popular in the United States, that of the permanently annoying and hostile high school, that it was impossible to exaggerate more.
They have also handled the usual drought of plots, since they have always resorted to police cases so that not everything was bogus at the police station and there has been a variety, from kidnappings to murderers, from brawls to dealings. What does not mean that, at this point, everyone’s personal lives were more than amortized and it was not possible to scratch more out there .
In the end, the atrocious facts of real life did nothing more than reaffirm to ‘Brooklyn 99’ that their cycle was over no matter how much they had made comic gold based on the police, like the gag above, and that it was the time to place the chairs on the tables, turn off the music and lights and close the door on the way out, paraphrasing a certain Eternal and Sandman’s sister.
Nor would it have been bad if they made the partridge dizzy for one more season , but they have been able to give it a closure and even make a toast without their spirits faltering. With sorrow, but at the same time joy, we only have to shout one last time: 99!!