The NBC sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine is beloved by fans for its diverse cast, but in the wake of protests over police brutality on Black civilians, the show has faced recent criticism that shows like it contribute to "copaganda," i.e., a whitewashing of the often violent ways many forces approach Black civilians in their jurisdictions. It seems Dan Goor and his writers room are listening, because they've reportedly thrown out four episodes of the upcoming eighth season and are revamping the show to address the Black Lives Matter movement. So how will BLM change the 99?
'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' plans to address BLM, but the "how" is still up in the air.
According to actor Terry Crews, who plays Sergeant Terry Jeffords on the show, they had four episodes ready to go before the killing of George Floyd. But in the wake of protests of Floyd's death and many others, "they just threw them in the trash," according to Terry, and plan to start over with a season that addresses the BLM movement head on.
It's unclear what the content of those four episodes were, but the 51-year-old actor told Access Hollywood the consensus was clear that they had to start over. Terry added, "We've had a lot of somber talks about it and deep conversations and through this we hope to bring something that will be truly groundbreaking this year. We have an opportunity here, and we plan to use it in the best way possible.”
The writers certainly have a tough row to hoe, however. As activists across the country fight not merely to reform police but to defund forces or abolish police systems altogether in favor of a restorative justice model, it's likely very difficult to determine the direction a show about an NYPD police precinct should take. Many have criticized that there is no such thing as a good cop because the system cops operate within is predicated on racism.
The show could perhaps portray what it would look like to dismantle a force as large as the NYPD and rebuild it from the ground up, as was done in Camden, N.J. and as has been proposed in Minneapolis. Or, the 99 could go rogue and decide to adopt a different kind of policing that focuses on community involvement, walking a beat, and getting to know the residents on a personal level, as many police reform experts have recommended.
Sure, maybe that all doesn't sound too funny, but it sounds like the writers and cast are running toward this challenge rather than avoiding it. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down production on all fall television, the writers should have plenty of time to figure out the right approach for addressing Black Lives Matter and police brutality. We can't wait to see what they do with the opportunity.
If you are looking for ways to donate your time or money to Black Lives Matter and other antiracist organizations, we have created a list of resources to get you started.