“Never go full Boyle.” Any true fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, affectionately referred to as B99 by its appreciators, knows and fears these words.They serve as a warning, an admonishment to Detective Charles Boyle to never give in to his most hilarious, ridiculous urges. These four words also serve as a kind of raison d’etre for the series itself, an in-joke for this single-camera cop comedy that seems to say, “let’s not take ourselves too seriously.”
The series centers on a hilariously immature but bizarrely effective young detective, Jake Peralta, and his co-workers at the titular Brooklyn Nine-Nine police district. The show feels like a modern melting pot of New York at its finest, and this is reflected clearly in its diverse cast. Jake himself is played by Andy Samberg, of Saturday Night Live fame, with a childlike glint in his eye smartly contradicting his innate knack for efficient and effortless police work. Despite his immature antics and the eye rolls they induce in his peers, he flourishes in his position and is able to get the job done between jokes and office pranks. The series is created by Dan Goor and Michael Schur, who were critical in the productions of The Office and Parks & Recreation. Although this show lacks the documentary directorial flourish of those series, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is clearly a cousin to those preceding shows. Jake, then, is this show’s Jim, the well-meaning prankster played by John Krasinski in The Office.
Captain Ray Holt, in stark contrast, is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and deftly portrayed by Andre Braugher, whose work on Homicide: Life on the Street in the 1990’s makes him the unquestionable best choice for the role. His portrayal of Holt as a gay African-American is one rarely found on TV, even in our modern era, and helps to diversify not just the cast of B99, but the entire televisual landscape as well. Despite this, the show wisely sidesteps any political showmanship and allows Holt to exist as a character first, warts and all, and “gay” and “black” second. In a lesser show, his sexuality and race would define his character. In this series, he is simply a hilariously dry Police Captain who just happens to be gay and black. One of the most notable episodes in the series so far is a dinner party where the squad and the viewers are introduced to Holt’s husband, home and pets, with predictably disastrous results.
Amy Santiago, as played by Melissa Fumero, serves as Jake’s partner in crime-busting, and a crucial foil for his character. His awkward, playful banter with her routinely runs the gamut from seemingly putting her down to flirting with her, which lends the pair a complex work relationship wherein any potential romance has been put on hold by her burgeoning relationship with another detective and the undercover mission Jake has set out on at the end of the first season. One of the most humorous dynamics in the series is between Santiago and Captain Holt, whom she desperately seeks to be her mentor in the squad room. Blithely aware of her interest in his mentorship, Captain Holt amuses himself routinely by frequently rebuffing Santiago’s attempts to seek his approval and advice.
Terry Crews, as Detective Sergeant Terry Jeffords, serves as Holt’s right-hand man and a bastion of internal contradictions. As a bodybuilder and devoted family man, he appears at first glance to be every bit a stereotype. Despite this, viewers quickly see the softer side of Terry, who endearingly refers to himself in the third person at times. In one particularly memorable episode, Terry tries with great difficulty to construct a dollhouse for his daughters.
Rosa Diaz, played by Stephanie Beatriz, serves as the tough, hard center of the show, with perhaps a small, squishy inside buried deep down. At times, her default expression appears to be a stony grimace, and a rare smile peeking out can melt a room of her colleagues in surprise and catharsis. If Captain Holt is no nonsense, Diaz can be no fun whatsoever, at times, for her peers. For the viewers, however, seeing Diaz coolly reject Boyle’s attempts to court her or demonstrate her patented explosive, reactionary behavior can provide some of the show’s biggest and most unexpected laughs.
Chelsea Peretti plays Gina Linetti, one crucial piece of the overall cast, and an important link to Jake’s childhood, as the two grew up together. As a result, she has a unique insight into his personality and can get him to open up in a way few others are able to. Despite this, she frequently can be twice as cuttingly harsh as Diaz, with her social media-fueled put-downs and bizarre mannerisms landing her in all manner of unusual situations, from being surrounded by intellectuals eager to understand her seemingly vast ego, to speaking only via emojis. If Diaz is the TNT of the series, Linetti is the match.
No deep-sea dive into the complex array of characters present in the B99 squad room would be complete without Detective Charles Boyle, who careens from character to character and scene to scene with aplomb. Boyle is an unusual fellow to be sure, filled with self-contradictions beyond those of his peers. He is a detective and a foodie. A romantic seemingly beyond sanity, and a recipient of the Medal of Valor. To viewers, he is simply Boyle, a bizarre and charming detective of many talents.
Awards and Second Season
With a second season premiere coming on September 28, 2014, the series is primed to hit the mainstream zeitgeist. The show has an impressive pedigree and is coming off of an awards season in which Andy Samberg took home an Emmy for Best Actor and the series won for Best TV series. The show has been a modest hit with viewers who watch live and those who watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine online, and with a move to Sunday nights, B99 is poised to break out and become an even bigger hit.