Skip To Content

    It’s OK To Feel Weird Watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” In The “Defund The Police” Era

    “I used to watch tons and tons of cop shows — I watch almost none now.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed how Brooklyn Nine-Nine's final season is tackling the Defund the Police era. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts. You can also find BuzzFeed Daily wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently we talked to Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall about the return of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and the complicated task of making a cop comedy in the era of ACAB. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: Since it started, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been a very beloved comedy about cops, and it seems like nobody really questioned the ethics of a show like that until the death of George Floyd. Did the show try to reckon with the darker sides of policing in its previous seasons? Was there any larger message about cops? Because I definitely know that the character of Jake was positioned as "one of the good ones."

    Still of Rosa and Jake on Brooklyn Nine-Nine with Jake saying "I'm one of the good ones."
    NBC

    Alan Sepinwall: There were some, definitely. They did a very good episode where the Terry Crews character is racially profiled by a white cop, and he and Andre Braugher's character talked about what to do about that. And Andre Braugher, throughout the run of the show, has talked about the challenges of being a Black man in the NYPD, as well as a gay man. So it's not like the show was blind to it, and it did acknowledge what it could, or what it felt it could, up to that point. But certainly it was not ready for public perception of the profession of the show to turn as much as it did.

    BuzzFeed Daily: It almost seems odd that Brooklyn Nine-Nine was and still is very popular among progressives. What do you chalk that up to? Is it just like an ignorance and a blindness that many have had until now?

    Terry Crews on Brooklyn Nine-Nine
    NBC

    AS: It's a big if, but if you can leave the police work aside, it's a very progressive show. It has one of the most racially inclusive casts in television. The characters themselves are all, for the most part, sort of unabashedly liberal. The show deals with social causes throughout, and its depiction of policing is sort of what we would like policing to be for the most part. So it was very easy to understand why it would be taken up by so many progressive viewers. And then, you know, sort of came a point where the blinders came off for all of us.

    BuzzFeed Daily: Looking at the broader landscape, how have other cop shows like S.W.A.T., Law and Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, etc. grappled with how to depict law enforcement in light of such social unrest?

    Still from Law & Order: SVU of Benson and Stabler
    NBC

    AS: It's been a mixed bag. I think some of them have done well. Weirdly, one of the better ones was NCIS: New Orleans, which did a whole bunch of storylines for Scott Bakula started questioning how law enforcement worked. And for their trouble, they got canceled at the end of the season. I think the problem is there are so many of these shows, and being police and the idea that the police are fundamentally heroic is baked into the genre. It's really hard to get around that. You can certainly make a new show that interrogates the value and the meaning of police work at this point. But to sort of try to work that in and retrofit it into these shows that have [been] around for years, or in the case of Law and Order: SVU for decades, I'm just not sure that's possible.

    We also talked about how Jennifer Hudson thinks you might just need to wait a few years for a Cats rewatch.

    Photo of Jennifer Hudson from the waist up in a sparkly purple strapless gown and a purple cape next to a still of her in CATS
    Rodin Eckenroth / FilmMagic / Universal

    She recently told Total Film that while “it’s unfortunate that it was misunderstood,” she thinks “later down the line, people will see it differently.”

    Regardless of the backlash the movie received, Jennifer says she’s still very proud and grateful to have been able to play Grizabella the Glamour Cat.

    In other news, if you needed more proof that Jeopardy should have just listened to its fans and hired LeVar Burton as its host, look no further.

    Photo of Mike Richards on the Jeopardy! set holding a daytime Emmy
    Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 / via Getty Images

    Mike Richards, the Jeopardy executive producer who was recently named Alex Trebek’s official successor, addressed sexist remarks he made in 2013 and 2014 on his since-deleted podcast The Randumb Show.

    The Ringer reported that Richards asked his female assistant and his female cohost if they’d ever taken “booby pictures” and referred to his cohost as a “booth ho” and “booth slut.”

    In an apology, Richards says: “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.”

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com or on Twitter @BuzzFeedDaily.