Fox trashed it’s Emmy winning sitcom BROOKLYN NINE NINE but before fans could mourn NBC snatched it from the dirt. The time between sunset on May 10 and early morning on May 12 was pretty bonkers for fans of BROOKLYN NINE NINE. Fox dropped the show Thursday of that week. Deadline barely had time to run an article about the show’s prospects before NBC picked it up early Saturday morning.

The reasons behind the show’s new slot are pretty clear: co-creator Mike Schur seems to thrive on NBC (see: PARKS AND RECREATION, THE GOOD PLACE) and the level of outrage fans expressed online at the show’s cancellation was pretty overwhelming. Stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Mark Hamill aired their woes on Twitter, calling further attention to the show. According to Miranda the two of them were actually in a group chat with Sean Astin, Guillermo del Toro, and Seth Meyers, brainstorming on how to save BROOKLYN NINE NINE. 

In hindsight, it’s pickup by NBC was almost a no-brainer. So many fans showed their support online that for the network to pass it up would probably be a mistake. With the love for the show confirmed beyond belief, the hot button question becomes why did Fox let it go?

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A clue to Fox’s reasoning is most certainly in the show’s style. Billed as an ensemble comedy, BROOKLYN NINE NINE follows the hijinks of Brooklyn’s 99th police precinct, focusing primarily on its squad of detectives. Andy Samberg stars as Detective Jake Peralta, a loveable idiot who tends to cut corners but truly believes in his work, and Andre Braugher as the stern captain to keep him in check. Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Stephanie Beatriz, Joe Lo Truglio, and Chelsea Peretti round out the rest of the bullpen.

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This may come as no surprise, but I adore BROOKLYN NINE NINE. The show is funny and heartwarming, which are the main criteria for good television in my book. Similar to PARKS AND RECREATION, the humor here is never malicious or offensive, though it is often at the characters’ expense.

A prime example is a joke Jake makes in response to Terry’s description of his first date with his wife. “We spent the whole time talking about Meatloaf. The singer, not the food.” “Oh, so the weirder of the two things,” Jake replies. Playful, but not unkind.

BROOKLYN NINE NINE "Self Burn"
Another great example of the humor in BROOKLYN NINE NINE

BROOKLYN NINE NINE: Diversity That Goes Above and Beyond

The representation in BROOKLYN NINE NINE is absolutely incredible. Of the main cast four characters are people of color: Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) and Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) are both black (and hold considerable power around the precinct, they are the squad’s superior officers) and detectives Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) are Latina.

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The relatively high number (two) of Latina characters shocked Stephanie Beatriz. She told the Chicago Tribune that after the show cast Melissa Fumero she was positive there wasn’t room for another Latina woman.

I was so excited for Melissa, but I thought I was screwed. Because growing up and watching shows, I would just never see Latina characters. Everyone was white. If there was Latinas, they were at the margins. Or playing stereotypes.”

The diversity in the cast is nothing to sneeze at. While BROOKLYN NINE NINE has remained largely silent on relevant issues relating to Rosa and Amy’s ethnicity (read: commentary on immigration) the show has more than proved itself capable of taking on thorny problems when it comes to anti-black racism. In season four we see Terry come face to face with racial profiling from another cop. The show handles the issue with comparative grace.

Though it’s commentary on sexism isn’t quite as pointed, BROOKLYN NINE NINE makes a point to put Amy and Rosa in leadership. By season two we see Rosa running her own task force and Amy reach the position of sergeant. Where the show really shines, however, is its LGBTQ+ representation.

LGBTQ+ (Badass) Leads

In its treatment of gay characters and subsequent jabs at homophobia BROOKLYN NINE NINE is unmatched. The show includes two openly LGBTQ+ characters, Rosa and Holt. The fact that these gay and bisexual (yeah, bisexual! Rosa’s bisexual!) characters are black and latina respectively is hugely important. Rarely do we see LGBTQ+ characters at all, and if we do they’re usually — if not always — white.

Rosa and Holt aren’t just nods to diversity, their identities are often central to an episode’s plot. The show does not ignore or trivialize them. Captain Holt tells Jake and Amy that he’s gay in the very first episode. From there it’s clear he’s out in all walks of life. The coming out narrative consumes so many of the LBTQ+ characters in our media.

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This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but rarely do we see an LGBTQ+ character whose main objective is not coming out. Holt avoids that altogether. With him, LGBTQ+ viewers can see one of their own who has moved past coming out. Holt is the rare character gay character who is happily married and secure in his identity.

This is not to say BROOKLYN NINE NINE does not deal with coming out at all. In season five we learn Rosa is bisexual. That it’s so late in the game is almost a good thing: the audience sees her navigate the sticky situation of coming out but also knows she’s more than that. Throughout the four previous seasons, she establishes herself and grows as a character. By the time she comes out her bisexuality is firmly one single aspect of her identity in the minds of the audience. It is not the whole of her personality.

She’s a three-dimensional character who struggles encompass more than her bisexuality.

Blueprints For Allies

BROOKLYN NINE NINE more than delivers on the diversity front, and it also provides an incredible example of allyship. Jake Peralta is a staunch ally of every community the show represents; in his quest support his friends he deals out acceptance like it’s going out of style. Notable acts include helping Rosa come out to her parents, punching his hero in the face because he called Holt a ‘homo,’ and taking care of Terry’s twins so he can confront the cop who profiled him. He’s a character other white and straight people can look towards and model their behavior from.

BROOKLYN NINE NINE Boys will be boys
Stellar ally Jake Peralta punches toxic masculinity in the face

Ratings aside, the show was popular and it’s progressive agenda created a huge community of fans online. NBC chairman Rob Greenblatt spoke for the network when he said “We’re thrilled to have it,” referring to BROOKLYN NINE NINE. “We think it fits into our brand of comedy in many ways better than it ever fit into the Fox brand of comedy.” When we consider some of the other comedies on Fox, and particularly it’s overwhelming support for the works of Seth MacFarlane, it becomes clear that Greenblatt subtly hit the nail on the head.

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This is a truth almost universally acknowledged, but Seth Macfarlane’s FAMILY GUY is crass, offensive, and rude. The jokes often hinge on stereotypes regarding minorities, specifically people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. In episode fourteen of the show’s sixteenth season, a trans character turns to her brother and says “If you were half the man I used to be, you’d stand up and join them.”

This demonstrates a radical lack of understanding regarding trans issues. Transgender women are not men who have become women, and to assert as such is to invalidate a truth of their identity and reinforce a dangerous stereotype.

Paul Asay on PluggedIn takes the condemnation a step further, adding that “most episodes are rife with sexually themed gags (including a recurring pedophilic character who tries to lure teen boys into his house), and many episodes dabble in racism, too.” The show busies itself with aiming its punches towards groups already suffering from the status quo and takes low hits at other groups (like victims of child molestation) along the way.

In case you couldn’t tell, I loathe FAMILY GUY. Its negative attitude leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Asay states the show is for people who “just don’t care anymore.” I am distinctly uninterested in shows that don’t care and exist only to highlight how everything is worthy of low humor. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to feel good in my leisurely activity of watching television. FAMILY GUY drives me so far in the other direction that I feel like I need to brush my teeth after watching an episode.

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Fox (News)

Despite my feelings on the matter, Fox has hosted FAMILY GUY for sixteen years. The network just renewed THE ORVILLE, another of MacFarlane’s projects that critics gutted. The offensive, divisive sort of humor that MacFarlane brings to Fox tracks perfectly with the nonfiction side of that network.

Perhaps it’s unfair to claim that the entire company of Fox has a right-wing political agenda, but that’s definitely true of FoxNews. It’s news programs are the schoolyards where the right pushes their propaganda. MacFarlane’s not so subtle degradation of minorities fits right in with the GOP’s dismissal of these communities.

By contrast, BROOKLYN NINE NINE has so often gone directly against the message of the Fox News pundits. The show is brimming with small comments calling attention to various problems facing the current United States. In THIS EPISODE while commenting on how frighteningly easy it is to buy a gun, Jake Peralta mutters “cool, cool cool cool, our country is broken.”

Similarly, in another episode, the warden of a jail makes a point to acknowledge the difficulties of incarcerated transgender people. No, the show is not offering solutions, but it’s acknowledging problems that Fox news considers unimportant. The comparative way that FAMILY GUY and BROOKLYN NINE NINE deal with trans issues speaks for itself.

The Nine Nine’s New Home

Upon reflection, it’s clear why Fox cut BROOKLYN NINE NINE loose. Its progressive agenda had no place on the same network as FOX AND FRIENDS and HANNITY.

The transition to NBC means its political commentary will be far more at home.

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