'Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Cast & Characters Could Teach Other Shows a Thing or Two About Diversity
It's no secret that the pop cultural landscape could use a little more variety, especially where meaty diverse characters are concerned. If your summer felt a little dull in the TV department, have no fear because FOX's Brooklyn Nine-Nine is returning for a second season on Sept. 28. The show unfortunately did not follow up its January Golden Globes win with an Emmy, but that doesn't mean it's not worthy of your attention. While you may have had fun hate watching various reality shows this summer, you probably also noticed summer television fare, or most television fare even, is woefully lacking in diversity.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine's charm is that it's a creeper hit in many respects. It's tightly written, expertly performed, and doesn't insist upon itself when it comes to the diversity of its cast and characters. What does that mean? First of all, despite the abundance of strong women, characters of color, and a prominent gay character, the show doesn't bill itself by saying "Hey, look at our big gay lady cop extravaganza." Instead, over the course of a season, it's allowed us to fall in love with characters like Santiago and Diaz, the two badass female detectives that work in the show's fictional 99th precinct.
In the clip above, actress Stephanie Beatriz mentions how excited she was to walk onto set and be greeted by women who are now her closest friends. Not only that, but she was also greeted by another Latina actress, Melissa Fumero, both in roles that had nothing to do with them being Latinas or ladies with lady problems. It's interesting to hear Beatriz say that; clearly it's a rarity in Hollywood for two actresses of color to be on a project together unless it's specifically about their race. Their characters' names aren't white-washed and the show isn't about their ethnicity. The pitch here isn't "two Latina detectives go fight crime," it's "here's a great, funny show we made, check it out."
The funny ladies on the show aren't the only part to rejoice about. Captain Holt is a gay black police captain, perfectly portrayed by Andre Braugher in a way that is not stereotypical, offensive, or played for laughs. Further, the show somehow manages to have Holt reference his struggles coming up in the police force with his race and orientation, without using those experiences for cheap emotional points or offensive gags. The delightful Terry Crews rounds out the cast as a big, burly-looking tough guy who happens to be painfully sensitive.
It's refreshing to see a show that is only concerned with creating the best characters and nothing more, in the purest sense. Hopefully Brooklyn Nine-Nine will become the rule, not the exception, of diversity on television. Maybe with the show's success, quality scripts that reflect the reality of the world around us will become the norm, especially for shows set in New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world (seriously, Girls, I love you, but quit playing games with my heart.)
And let's not forget that people need to keep writing shows for funny women, because I never want to live in a world without Chelsea Peretti.