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In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. And God said, “Let there be love!” And there appeared before him a vast spread of playing cards. And God said to the archangel Azrael, “What is this?” And Azrael replied, “Your greatness, this is the game of Memory.” And God said to the angel, “How do we play?” And the angel explained the rules of Memory. And God turned over the first card and saw Adam. And he turned over another card and saw Eve, and they were a match. And God was pleased.
Then God said to Azrael, “How many cards are there?” and the angel replied, “As many people as ever will live on Earth.” And God said, “How many is that?” And the angel told him “It is Aleph Null.” And God said, “That is a large number.” And the archangel Azrael said, “Infinity is not a number.” And…
It’s so important that these gems show up on the episode centered around yet another heterosexual wedding aired on this show (is this the 3rd? 4th? Unclear.) Interesting that Charles and Genevieve are not married, even though they’ve been together for three seasons now and are co parents. Is this another subtle spit in the face of society’s hetero-normative ideas?
First gem: Captain Holt officiating.
“You’re married. You may kiss the bride.”
He does not say “husband and wife.” And I’m sure that’s important to Amy, and probably Jake as well. But mostly, I’m sure it comes from Captain himself who would never have agreed to hear “I pronounce you husband and husband.”
Second gem: Actual bi-visibility
“You never know when you’re gonna find your dream person.”
“Anyone on the street could be them.”
“All right, it feels like you googled how to talk to your bisexual friends.”
Go Serge! Doing research after someone comes out to you is nothing to be ashamed of, and you should all do it! Although I feel like watching this show might be enough.
Notice how Gina Rodriguez approaches in the car, and there’s some hinting on Terry’s part, and Rosa seems into it, but can we all stop to appreciate the fact that a complete stranger walked on screen and we didn’t all immediately assume she’s straight? And then once you think about it, is she a lesbian? Who knows? BI-FIVE EVERYBODY! WE GOT SOME REAL VISIBILITY! Yes, I wrote that in all caps so you would yell in your head, that’s how exciting this is.
Leadership is not just about establishing dominance, giving guidance, going first…to the Captain of the Nine-Nine, it’s about being willing to take a bullet for a cause you believe in. Captain Holt takes multiple bullets (some hypothetical, some metaphorical, and the rest just not technically bullets) during his career as Commanding Officer of New York’s Funniest.
But his leadership has many layers, it’s not all taking bullets. It’s about being a role model and a team player. It’s about setting the rules and earning the team’s respect by descending to their level when it’s appropriate. It’s the way he correctly estimates each member of the squad, the sergeant, and Gina, to maximize their potential and play to their strengths. He brings Terry to the gun range to get him re-certified because he believes the sergeant is ready to return to the field. I’ve dedicated an entire post to Holt and Gina. He mentors Amy and appreciates her so much. Holt-Peralta also deserves its own post, as does Holt-Diaz.
On principle he is hesitant to let the squad come to his aid, not because he is proud (#gaypride?) but because he doesn’t want to put them in danger. As he sees it, it’s his job to risk his safety for them, and not the other way around. Examples of this can be found in season 1 Christmas episode and the saga with Jimmy Figgis in Florida opening season 4.
He stands up in defense of any member of his squad whether it is their safety, their career, or their feelings that might be hurt. For example, he scolds the detectives for avoiding Boyle after his injury (s1e12) defends Jake when he’s being threatened by the Commissioner (s1e2).
Now, let’s talk bullets.
Holt makes some major sacrifices, which sometimes work out fine because this is a comedy, but involved sincere risk of giving up on his dream and sabotaging his career altogether. The most obvious one is the deal with Seamus Murphy (season 5 episode 2) which could have cost the captain his career and possibly more. At the moment of decision, the captain took the deal even though it almost certainly meant giving up his chance to be police commissioner. That turned out okay, but he did know that at the time and he did it anyway, for Jake and Rosa.
Not to be taken lightly either is his speech in the running for commissioner (s5e14). The committee could have told him to go to hell and dropped him from the race. Again, that’s not how it turned out for him. But that is most certainly what would have happened if he had pulled that same move ten years earlier. Captain Crawford was not even one of his people, rather, she is a political opponent of his. But his mic-drop speech about being denied opportunity because of who he was is such a powerful statement, and so much more because of the position he is in.
He has risen through the ranks because he wanted to be in a place to make a difference, that’s what he tells Terry when they submit the complaint about the cop who stopped Terry for being black (s4e16). He recognizes that he has power, and he uses his power to do good. To make change. It’s really no wonder Cheddar is so well trained, I mean, look who his dad is.
Law & Order SVU season 17 episode 5: Synopsis: “An unarmed black man is shot during the pursuit of a suspect, raising racial tensions; Barba must indict the three officers involved — who claim they followed procedure.” The squad are chasing a seriously dangerous perp, three policemen corner him and shoot – but it turns out afterwards that it was the wrong guy. The victim dies 😦 and the police department is in trouble. As it does, SVU goes into details of number of bullets fired, they hold an indictment and question all the officers involved and hold an internal investigation. It’s satisfying to watch justice being done, even though the episode ends before the full trial, so you don’t know what ends up happening to those specific cops (and I haven’t checked if that’s revealed in the following episodes.)
Brookly Nine Nine season 4 episode 16: Sgt Terry Jeffords, one of the main characters on the show, is stopped in his neighborhood while out looking for his daughter’s blanky. The cop eventually lets him go when Terry says he’s also a policeman. Terry decides to try to handle it in a friendly way, and at first he meets the other cop in a coffee shop to talk. The cop is sorry he stopped him because Terry is also a cop, but he shows no remorse about the way he acted and says he’s “not going to apologize for doing his job.” Terry’s not satisfied, and decides to file an official complaint. At first the Captain advises against it, saying there could be backlash, but by the end of the episode the Captain changes his mind. Captain Holt is a gay black man, and says the reason he rose through the system was in order to be in a position to make change – so he supports Terry filing the complaint, repercussions be damned. Captain Holt says as a result, the other cop will probably think twice about making another bad stop.
Both shows make a point of giving airtime to stories like this, and raising awareness is important, but it’s not enough. They both emphasize the feeling of injustice that accompanies the multitudes of cases all across the US and the world – people are just getting away with it.
I think Brooklyn 99’s message was stronger, even though no one died. In this story, the victim was a main character to which the audience has developed an attachment over four seasons. It was that much more shocking that anyone could possibly look at Terry and see just a black man, because we know so much about him. The guy built a princess castle on screen in season one. He’s a dad. He’s a great guy. But this cop didn’t know him – so it was really disturbing to see him escalating so quickly with “hands on your head – don’t move – keep your voice down -” etc while holding a gun. On the other hand, we’re pretty used to seeing lots of flying bullets on SVU, it’s the kind of thing they do a lot. The victim on SVU was an anonymous teenager who didn’t say anything during his minute on screen. It’s hard to empathize with the cops that were involved in the shooting, but they do make a big deal to show how upset they are and how worried that the city is “going to hang them” which seems an inappropriate exaggeration in light of an innocent man’s death at their hands.
Additionally, the Captain’s decision to back Terry’s complaint is meaningful, and (although fictional) shows something that can be done to effect change within the system. It shows people willing to risk their career to make the streets safer for black people. As satisfying as it is to watch ADA Barba question the cops on the stand, at no point is SVU discussing change – they are just representing reality, which is okay, that’s what they do. But it’s another reason why I think B99 wins this round.
The journalist’s visit to the Nine-nine is a point-by-point unpacking of the components of toxic masculinity. This is the first of many episodes along the theme of “Don’t meet your heroes” which I’ll discuss in a separate post.
Brogan is disappointed that there are no “good cops” left, but fans of the show are loving it.
So, according to Brogan, what are “good cops”?
Violent. “I once saw Gaminsky choke a hippie to death with his own pony tail.” He glorifies illegal use of force. They endanger themselves and others unnecessarily and brag about the violence inflicted upon them.
Grotesque.“Where’s the can? I gotta unload.” “Maybe you should learn to handle your brown.”
Not interested in being smart. “We used to call guys that bragged about sitting around all day, ‘hair bags.’” This particular dig is referring to the use of computer science in police work.Consume alcohol frivolously. It’s not “manly” to be a nerd. (Oddly, though, it’s not girly either in the real world – huh. It just occurred to me that maybe being into computer science isn’t actually related to gender. Sarcastic? Me???)
Reckless and careless. “Put your head through the door.”
Don’t care about their job. “Being too hungover to chase a perp? That’s a classic old school move.”
Don’t ‘feel’. “I kind of feel like you’re being unfair.” “Feel like? Listen to her, ‘Suzanne Somers’ over here. Talk like a man.” Emotions are for women, then?
Homophobic. “You don’t have to stick up for that homo.” The ultimate threat to toxic masculinity is, of course, being attracted to men. Which makes this moment ever more epic
***Contains a single spoiler on the question of whether Charles and Rosa end up together so if you care about that, skip. Also (if you live under a rock) spoiler for something about Rosa that is only revealed in season 5***
Charles knows Rosa so well. He helps Marcus plan the perfect birthday surprise, and he rules the maid-of-honor party competition. But it wasn’t always like this.
At the beginning of the show, Charles doesn’t understand Rosa at all. He fantasizes about her, and says he is “in love” with her, but is he really? I don’t think he is. I think he’s into her, he thinks she’s hot (who can blame him for that one?) but frankly I think he dislikes many elements of her personality as they reveal themselves.
Rosa: “I hate small talk, let’s drink in silence.”
But does he really mean that?
When Rosa says something dark, he comments “I can not figure you out.” Really, Boyle? We’ve only been watching this show for two hours and we already get that Rosa says dark things with no emotional expression.
The best thing about Charles courting Rosa is how quickly he gives up. I’m not kidding. He asks her out maybe 3-4 times. Rosa says no, and even the few times she agrees she makes it clear it’s not a date. She never at any point leads him on or implies she might like him back. She never likes him back. Eventually, with some solid relationship advice from friends, Charles consciously decides to move on – he wouldn’t have been receptive to Vivian’s advances if he had chosen to continue to pine for Rosa. In fact, the moment when this happens appears visually in the episode at Captain Holt’s birthday party, when she asks “How are you single? There’s no special someone in your life?” and he hesitates, eyeing Rosa in the corner, and then turns back to Vivian and replies, “No.” Good work, Charles!
Also, as soon as Charles moves on, the awkwardness lingers only for a few episodes, and by the end of the first season, Charles and Rosa are actual friends.
This is another reason why the moment when Rosa comes out to Charles is so beautiful. This moment between Charles and Rosa is incredibly intimate, with zero sexual connotations or even joking innuendo, which is perfect. It just shows how much Charles gets her, how sensitive he is to her vulnerability in that moment, but also explains why Rosa trusts him enough to open up about this deeply personal issue, which is something Rosa never does.
God, I love Boyle. < smiley face with heart eyes >
Just to be clear, the reason it is so important that Charles does not continue to pursue Rosa despite her rejection of him is because the opposite is the basis of rape culture. Classic romances constantly repeat the trope of a male persisting and pursuing a female despite the fact that she said no, and encourage the idea that this behavior is somehow romantic, shows courage and strength and confidence and other sexy qualities, when in fact it should be seen for what it is – stalking and harassment. So kudos, nine-nine, for portraying a reasonable response to rejection. More please.