We didn’t deserve a show as good as Brooklyn Nine-Nine 1 year ago

We didn’t deserve a show as good as Brooklyn Nine-Nine

The show’s cancellation was announced yesterday.

We don’t appreciate sitcoms.

In this supposed ‘Golden age of TV’, the shows that get the acclaim are hour long dramas, about gruff white dudes who do bad things. Shows that unfold “like a novel”. Shows that don’t actually get interesting until half way through the second season.

Sitcoms, on the other hand, I would argue, are what TV is really great at. A group of recurring characters, that you get to know and love, and you get to hang out with them every week, and see them grow over time. And no recent sitcom has had a group of characters as fully rounded as Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

The New York police station sitcom, which was cancelled this week after five seasons, had seven brilliant characters that arrived perfectly fully formed.

That never happens in sitcoms, even in the best examples of the genre. Go back and watch Seinfeld when it was originally called The Seinfeld Chronicles. Go back to the notoriously weak first season of Parks & Recreation – it is basically unwatchable compared to what came after. Ok, so Andy Samberg, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti and Terry Crews had already honed their comedy personas. But Andre Keith Braugher was best known as a dramatic actor, and Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero were virtual unknowns before the show. Yet they hit the ground running from the first scene of the pilot. It's remarkable.

It might have been initially sold as an Andy Samberg vehicle, but every single character could have carried their own show.

The way Rosa Diaz’s rock hard exterior cracks at the most unexpected moments. Gina’s egomania. Terry’s relationship with his kids, and yogurt. Doyle’s bizarre list of out-of-work-hobbies. Amy’s obsessiveness. I’d probably even watch a Scully and Hitchcock spin-off. They are all three dimensional characters, that just happen to be a refreshing mix of genders, ethnicities and sexualities.

My personal favourite though has to be Captain Raymond Holt. Sometimes there’s a sitcom character that has such a simple conceit, that leads to so many hilarious set-ups, that you wonder how on earth it hasn’t been done a million times before. Holt’s literalism and lack of reactions, and Andre Braugher’s brilliant delivery of them, will never not be funny to me. In any other network show, having the police captain be a gay black man would be treated as worthy and probably dull – here, he’s often the funniest part of any given scene he’s in.

And that leads on to another reason why the show will be so missed. It was an apolitical, lightweight comedy about New York police that happened to air in the Black Lives Matter era. But as the show built up its confidence, it faced those issues head-on. In the season four episode ‘The Last Ride’, an off-duty Terry is arrested by a white cop for essentially being a black guy in a posh area, and him and Holt come to blows over the fallout. Then in the latest season, Diaz came out as bisexual. Both these episodes were as equally as hilarious as any edition of the show, and not ‘very special episodes’, and it’s really sad to see think we won’t get any more of this.

But enough sadness. Let's leave it on maybe the show's finest moment.